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Western Washington Fair Rides

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Carousel . Clara Peller . Coaster . Midway Games . Old Mill . Skyride


From 1932 through 2004, Robert was on the fairgrounds all but 2 years. During WWII, his duties included inspecting the grounds.

As the Old Mill (seen in picture) was such a success, Edward and Robert Bollinger built a wooden roller coaster around 1935.

Edward Bollinger wanted more than just portable rides for the Western Washington Fair held in Puyallup, Washington. In 1932 he constructed the Old Mill. A slow-paced tunnel of love ride. Small boats moved with the tunnel on a current powered by a paddle wheel. Inside were scenes for viewing. Men could stop their boat inside for a short time.

Part of the ride's appeal was the last scene of a donkey eating from a manger. As the boat passed, it would trip a lever and the donkey's hind legs flew up. Boat occupants would react and be laughing as they exited the ride. Those seeing the laughter would purchase a ticket to see what others were laughing about. This ride was destroyed along with other buildings in a June 1970 arson fire.

January 2001, a crew from the fair traveled to Oaks Park in Portland, Oregon to retrieve the only surviving Old Mill boat. They plan to restore it for display in their museum of 100 plus years entertaining the community.

On page 68 of "Doin' The Puyallup" (An Illustrated History of the Western Washington Fair Since 1900 that was published in 1991) Edward Bollinger can be seen standing on the right wearing a light gray suit and white hat (the picture is mislabeled).


Edward and Robert Bollinger hired John Miller to design the coaster. Mr Miller said the ride would be better if it were 50 feet longer. After getting permission for the extra feet, Mr Miller was up all night using butcher paper and plywood to re-draw the plans. This update provided the ride Mr Miller envisioned and created a access for delivery trucks under the structure.

The Douglas fir framework was made on the ground then hoisted into position with Model-A Ford fitted with block and tackle. Edward and Robert employed local carpenters and craftsmen under the direction of key employees from The Oaks Amusement Park to build the coaster.

Several pictures were taken using the train positioned in the middle of the high curve (brakes set). One of these pictures was of the Western Washington Fair Board Members.

Clara Peller of Wendy's "Where's The Beef?" fame also had her picture taken on this roller coaster. As she had a breathing problem, it was a little more difficult to get her up to the train. She had a unique way of putting things that made those around her smile while she took all that was asked of her in stride.

A Tacoma man, who spent 18 of his summer vacations working as a general handyman and track inspector, is the only recorded fatality of this coaster.

Below pictures were taken during the 1935 construction



In the early 1960's, representatives from the Fair asked Robert to run the carnival (midway) games at the fair. Despite his reservations (see "Western Washington Fair Midway Issues" dated September 23, 1949), he relunctantly accepted their offer thus became the new owner of the midway games.

With the addition of the games, FunTastic entities were formed. FunTastic Rides was owned by Robert, FunTastic Games was sold by Robert. Both entities were booked at the same play spots thus FunTastic Shows was created to handle booking.
Housed in a round building on the WW Fairgrounds is a 1917 Parker Toboggan Portable Carousel (PTC 43). This is one of five carousels that were mounted on a wagon so they could be easily transported with a traveling show.

Per August 15, 1989 note from Robert to Mr. Morgan of the National Carousel Association, "I feel very honored by your remarks in your last letter and would be happy to assist you in any way at the convention. I know most of the history of merry-go-rounds in the Northwest and of Perron's work."

". . . I gave a Philadelphia Toboggan MFG #43 built in 1917 to the Western Washington Fair. At present, there were only two of them in existence. . . I completely restored it with Pat and Tom Cooper doing the art work. The fair built a fine large building, sprinkled and electrically heated for the machine. It operates on special events and the 17 day fair each year. . . "

Right: Robert is standing beside the horse with his initials painted on the bridle (you can barely see REB in white on the mustard colored bridle)

The PTC 43 carousel with a WurliTzer Band Organ (circa 1916) was owned by Levitt, Brown, & Higgins Shows. In 1923 it was one of two rides available for sale. Both Earl Douglas and Edward Bollinger wanted to purchased the carousel so they drew straws. Edward drew the 'short straw' enabling Earl to purchase the carousel. In 1932, Edward and Robert Bollinger purchased the carousel from Earl Douglas' widow.



Robert donated this goat to the Western Washington Fair.


A third ownership interest in the Skyride was another contribution to the WWF by Robert Bollinger. The Skyride is an overhead ride consisting of enclosed cabins that take riders from one end of the fairgrounds to the other.




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Updated 07/14/2014 |