One of the Delaware County Fair’s mainstays is celebrating a milestone this year.
Bates Brothers Amusement Co. turns 50 in 2015. The Wintersville-based company was founded by Geary and Eric Bates in 1965 when the ride operators bought their first ride. Eventually the Bateses acquired their former employer, Gambill Amusements. The company calls itself “the largest portable amusement operation in the state of Ohio.”
Spokeswoman Kim Bates Bozich said the company’s involvement with the Delaware County Fair dates back to at least 1984.
“When we first came, we did not open on that first weekend, and our midway was half the size it is now,” Bozich said. “The fair has grown in the number of days, not only in size and attendance.”
Bozich said that in that first year, Bill Lowe was the fair manager, a position he has since returned to.
“Life has come full circle — we’re working with him again,” she said of Lowe. “We have had a fantastic working relationship with the fair board.”
The two units of Bates Brothers Amusement will have worked 29 events in the state from May to October. Bozich said the rides tend to rotate from year to year at the fair. However, favorites like the ferris wheel, merry-go-round, big slide and kiddie rides will appear at every event.
A new ride, the Frog-Hopper, is designed for little kids to be a smaller, slower version of the Super Shot (the ride that drops). Bozich said the Frog-Hopper was well-received earlier this month at the Wayne County Fair before making its Delaware debut.
“It’s a very successful fall county fair,” she said. “Even though it is associated with the Little Brown Jug, it has a viable standing all its own.”
To mark its anniversary, Bates is giving away a customized Disney vacation (a $5,000 value) on Nov. 1. To enter, visit http://batesamusement.com/disney/ on Nov. 1.
Gary Budzak may be reached at 740-413-0904 or on Twitter @GaryBudzak.