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Thursday, Apr 17, 2014
Pasco Tribune

Pasco County Fair brings thrills, flavors to visitors


DADE CITY — It taunts you from its perch on the northernmost boundary of the fairground. You can see its rainbow lights and giant spinning claw from the highway, but it takes some time to build up the nerve to ride Extreme.

Expect a long line. Expect to hear a lot of screaming. It won’t prepare you for the swinging, swirling, gravity-defying ride at the Pasco County Fair. There’s a reason the reporter was the only person older than 20 willing to be propelled 50 feet in the air while spinning faster than a pinwheel.

“It’s definitely something you need to try at least once,” first-time fairgoer Richard Buckles said.

“It’s just more fun,” 17-year-old Samantha Petersen said. “Everything else just goes up and down.”

Petersen was 14 the first time she got up the nerve to ride it. She was thrilled and terrified at the same time. “Everyone was screaming,” she said. “When you’re at the top and look down — oh my God!”

Now she’s a pro. She’ll ride it at least twice a night during the fair.

She has a word of advice for anyone who may have stopped at the food court on the way in — especially those who splurged on the steak tips and mashed potatoes: Wait. Wait at least 30 minutes. Maybe take in a show or watch the racing pigs.

“Let everything settle,” Petersen said.

Same goes for the swinging Pirates ship or the crazy caged Zipper or the Tilt-a-Whirl.

Maybe catch the sunset from the Giant Wheel, soaring 100 feet over the south end of the midway, or swing over the fairgrounds on the Vertigo tower.

“It’s an easy slow ride, but it’s fun,” Lauren Mariano said.

The Vertigo was gentle enough for 6-year-old McKaide Yingling. “It was a little scary, but I kept my eyes open,” he said. His big sis, McKenna, 8, made sure he didn’t look down.

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Twitter @LKinslerTBO