By Robert Pore, Grand Island Independent
GRAND ISLAND -- When she entered the Nebraska State Fairgrounds Sunday, the first must stop for 15-year-old Johanna Kluck of Bruning was the Sky Tram.
“It was fun,” Johanna said. “I really liked it. You could get a really good view of everything around here. It was pretty cool. You would not have gotten that view without it.”
This was the third straight year Johanna has attended the Nebraska State Fair. But with the help of the Sky Tram, she really got a good look of the fairgrounds this year.
“It is a nice addition to the State Fair,” she said.
“It has been going really good,” said Richard Armstrong, who manages the Sky Tram operation at the Nebraska State Fair for Wade Shows, who owns the Sky Tram concession. “Everybody seems to like it. I haven’t heard any complaints yet. It has been non-stop since we started.”
For Johanna’s mom, Mrya Kluck, it was a challenge riding the Sky Tram because she has a fear of heights. But it didn’t dampen her enthusiasm for trying the ride.
“It was great, but when they stopped, and it would sway, that bothered me a lot,” Kluck said.
Steve Fosselman and his wife, Cathy, along with a friend from Overland, Kan., Teresa Shaughnessy, all enjoyed a ride on the Sky Tram.
“It was a lot of fun,” Fosselman said. “We really enjoyed seeing the tops of the roofs and the tops people’s heads.”
And there were a lot of heads to see — crowds were pouring into the fairgrounds as Sunday’s weather was great for fair fun.
From the aerial view provided by the Sky Tram, Fosselman said it gave him different perspective of the State Fairgounds at Fonner Park.
“We could see all the way over to the parking lot and over to the Thompson Arena,” he said. “My, what a fantastic view.”
“I loved it,” said Cathy Fosselman. “It was refreshing fun and everyone should do it. It is a great addition to the fair. I hope they do it every year.”
For Shaughnessy, the Sky Tram was a “great ride.”
“This is just a wonderful fair,” she said. “I hope everybody takes advantage of this (Sky Tram) and takes a ride.”
The Sky Tram covers the distance of four football fields from 40 feet above the fairgrounds and runs from the Exhibition Building to the southern tip of the Cattle Barn.
The tram will be a permanent installation but will only operate during the 11 days of the State Fair. The rest of the year, tram cables and cars will be stored to keep them in good shape.
The Sky Tram is owned and operated by Wade Shows, which will be the State Fair’s new carnival provider starting with the 2013 event.
Armstrong said Wade Shows operates a number of Sky Trams at state fairs across the country. He said the Sky Tram has become a popular addition to those fairs. And from the reaction of the crowds at the Nebraska State Fair, it is off to a good start as being part of the Nebraska State Fair tradition.
“It’s miles and miles of smiles,” he said.
To celebrate the addition of the Sky Tram, the Nebraska State Fair, which will runs through Sept. 3 at Fonner Park, adopted “High Flying Fun” as the fair’s theme.