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August 17, 2013

Rides are a family affair at Delaware fair

By Cheryl Petersen Contributing writer
The Daily Star

---- — “This is the 81st year Reithoffer Shows has set up at Delaware County Fair,” said Reithoffer manager Ricky Reithoffer on Friday. “We can rely on this community to keep us in parts, supplies, fuel and clean clothes. But, the best part has been developing lasting relationships.”

Ricky Reithoffer’s great-great-great-grandfather started Reithoffer Shows circa 1896. “He had one carousel,” said the great-great-great grandson. “Today, we are on the road 10 months out of the year and employ 150 people.”

Reithoffer Shows tore down its rides Sunday night in New Jersey, loaded them on trucks and drove to Walton. The rides were rebuilt on Monday. “Before opening, a certified New York State inspector inspects the machines at every stop,” said Reithoffer, “and our employees go through a checklist each morning.”

Transportable generators keep the Dizzy Dragon, Zipper, YoYo, and Tidal Wave going. 

“It’s like a small traveling city,” said Reithoffer. “About five years ago we changed out the incandescent bulbs and installed LED bulbs on the Ferris Wheel. The energy use dropped from 400 amps to 14 amps. So, we keep changing over to LED lighting.”

Every couple of years a new ride is added to the show.

“Grandpa would take us grandkids with him when he went shopping for a ride,” said Reithoffer. “We were the testers.”

The unusual shopping trips with Grandpa honed strong stomachs and common sense.

 “We’d tell Grandpa if the ride was good, boring or a throw-up ride,” said Reithoffer. “Throw-up rides are no good because you won’t get repeat riders. I still test every ride before buying.”

Ricky’s grandfather, Pat Reithoffer, was married to Bette for 62 years before he died in 2007. Bette Reithoffer, 93, said: “The rides are fun. As soon as a new ride was set up, I’d say, ‘Come on, Pat, let’s be the first to ride it,’ and off we’d go together.” 

Does she still ride at her age?

“Oh, sure,” she said.

Saturday rides at the Delaware County Fair are a pay-one-price of $17 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and $18 from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m.

“Reithoffer Shows have always given back to the Walton Fair,” said Fair President Danny Hodges. “They help with improvements and have donated golf carts and have added blacktop for better walking areas.”

Hodges also mentioned some other attractions.

“The Saturday night concert is the dynamic duo, Montgomery Gentry,” he said. “Everyone is welcome to come. Their country music makes country music lovers. They enjoy what they do and are fun to work with.”

Also performing are Aaron Kelly and Lindsey Erin.

“Aaron Kelly rocked the house last year and really knows how to get the crowd pumped up,” Hodges said. “We’re thrilled to have Kelly here again this year. As for Lindsey Erin, the fair board met her months ago in Rochester at the New York State Association of Agricultural Fairs where she showcased her performance.”

The concert begins at 7 p.m.