State Fair: Stratosphere works, return of sideshows, campaigning with crop art

After a two-year hiatus the sideshows are back at the Fair. No disrespect to the sword swallower, escape artist, fire eater, or knife thrower but the most interesting character of the bunch might be the organizer of the "World of Wonders." 83-year-old Ward Hall has been promoting human oddities for 67 years. Also Tuesday: the Stratosphere worked but the River Raft did not, chamber musicians rallied support, crop art became part of the campaign, and somebody swiped the bakery money.

The World of Wonders Palace of Illusions is back at the State Fair midway this year, following a two-year hiatus. The sideshow's organizer, Ward Hall, says disappearing for a couple of years is not such a bad thing because it means folks haven't seen the fire eater, headless woman, escape artist, or sword swallower in these parts for awhile. And Hall should know. The 83-year-old has been promoting human oddities for 67 years.

Tuesday was another busy day at the Fairgrounds. You may have heard that the River Raft stopped working. The Stratosphere, however, reported smooth sailing after leaving riders stranded in their swings on each of the Fair's first two days. A Pioneer Press reporter took a head-cam with him to show us the view from the ride when it's working.

The St. Paul Chamber Orchestra - facing an uncertain future - took its case to the public with a rare performance on a stick.

French Meadow Bakery revealed it was victimized by thieves late Friday.

And MPR shows us how artistic and political expression are melding in the agriculture building.

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Riders stranded again on State Fair swings

The Stratosphere Swing Tower stopped again in mid-air Friday morning. It was the second time in two days for the ride. The 200-foot-tall attraction, making its debut this year at the Minnesota State Fair, also stranded riders Thursday for about 20 minutes. KSTP reports that the same ride also stalled out at the Wisconsin State Fair.

Another ride shut down at State Fair

The River Raft was closed after it had malfunctioned three times Tuesday afternoon and once on Monday. Ride operators told patrons the issue involves an electrical short that is kicking on an automatic shutoff. Last week, the Stratosphere Tower was closed after it stalled several times due maintenance issues.