Inside the 2016 MN State Fair: Lord of the Rides

Jim Sinclair chooses our favorite thrills, spills, and rides

If you upchuck your Pronto Pup on the Tilt-a-Whirl this year at the Minnesota State Fair, you can complain to Jim Sinclair.

As a deputy general manager, part of his responsibilities includes choosing and overseeing the rides, games, and attractions at the Midway and Kidway. Being able to pick attractions is a unique privilege for the Fair, which became an independent midway in 1995. Instead of working with one contractor, which is more standard, Sinclair can work with different individual operators and owners to meet the needs of fairgoers.

“We generally look for something new and different,” he says. “If someone has a new ride, we feel like it’s our new obligation to provide that for our audience.”

New this year will be Charlie Chopper, a kid’s helicopter ride, and Spider, a returning ride that was popular in the Midway a few years ago.

While rides and attractions are usually finalized around Christmastime the year before the Fair opens, some rides begin the process much earlier. “I’m already talking with a gentleman who’s having a large Ferris wheel delivered late this fall for next year’s Fair,” Sinclair says.

He adds that running the Midway yields rewards when many rides become traditions for fairgoers. “Everybody has a State Fair story,” he says. “We are very fortunate that we have such a loyal guest audience. We don’t take that lightly.”

Read more of our “Inside the 2016 MN State Fair” series:
Sounds of Summer: Nate Dungan selects the Fair’s free-music soundtrack
Wild, Wild Life: Mark Goodrich oversees the four-legged fairgoers
Choosing the New Foods: Dennis Larson makes the calls every year on the Fair’s food line-up
We Love a Parade: Theresa Weinfurtner manages the Fair’s talent contest, parade