Ferry County Fair Carousel
Ride a country fair merry-go-round at the Ferry County Fairgrounds and experience the golden age of carousels.
In 1958 a group of local ranchers cosigned a $2000.00 loan to purchase a portable Country Fair style carousel, with 24 hand-carved horses, that they’d located in Tacoma, WA. They carried it back to Republic, WA, in the back of a wheat truck, where it quickly became a favorite attraction at the annual Ferry County Fair.
The traveling carnival merry-go-round was built by the Armitage-Herschell Co. between 1895-1900. According to the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions, “between 2,000 and 3,000 carousels were produced in the U.S. during its “golden age” of wooden carousels” (late 1880s – to early 1930s). Of those, the National Carousel Association’s 2000 Census lists only 208 as still operational in the United States and Canada. There are only two carousels in Eastern Washington State.
Because Armitage-Herschell horses are known for their very simple lines, carousel experts believe two of the carousel horses were carved by Charles W. F. Dare, a noted carousel manufacturer of the 1900s. Dare horses have a distinct style, featuring an arched neck and head, and a martingale breastplate. All of the horses were originally mounted on a track steam machine as indicated by their belly mounts. The machine that now runs the carousel was built by Hatfield Engineering in 1935, when the entire machine was converted to the jumping mechanism that exists today.
Though the carousel received an Art Deco makeover in the 1950’s (including neon lights and metal rounding boards) and a repainting after its arrival in Ferry County, its full restoration didn’t begin until 1993. At that time, a group of concerned citizens approached the county for help in protecting and restoring the aging carousel. Their work with county officials resulted in the county agreeing never to sell the merry-go-round, and the formation of the Merry-Go-Round Friends Committee to oversee carousel fundraising and restoration efforts.
Schedule & Info
The carousel is open to the public each year during the Ferry County Fair. For more information about the carousel, visit the fair’s carousel web page.
FerryCounty.com thanks Nancy Morris, Chair Merry-go-round Friends, for providing much of the historical and restoration information used in this article.
Updated August 10, 2010.