Even the governor of Minnesota has taken a ride on Ye Old Mill, the oldest ride at the Minnesota State Fair.
"I confess that I caught a few smooches back there. The ride is always too short when you are a teenager," said Governor Mark Dayton with a smile.
Dayton declared opening day of the fair "Ye Old Mill Day" in honor of the attraction's 100th year of operation at the Minnesota State Fair. Governor Dayton got to start the big wheel churning for the 2015 fair run and also got to take the first ride.
Ye Old Mill is a throwback "tunnel of love," offering a quiet and dark boat ride respite that is quite different from the hair-raising scream rides of the Mighty Midway. Kathleen Krailing and her husband came to the attraction for their first time and as a way to commemorate their 43rd wedding anniversary.
"We thought this is the best place to be," says Krailing. "It's 100 years old. We'll celebrate it and celebrate our anniversary."Slice of a family's carnival past
The Keenan family has operated Ye Old Mill since the beginning.
"Originally my great-grandfather was in the vaudeville business, but as talking movies came out, they saw the writing on the wall and got into the carnival business," says Jim Keenan, who is the fourth generation running the Mill.
Keenan works in Golden Valley as a psychologist and the Mill is the only remaining relic of his family's carnival past.
"I think it's a slice of simplicity in a high–tech world. It never changes and I think there's some comfort for people."
Keenan says they don't change much about the ride and when they do update or change a diorama, they get complaints. He does, however, fancy himself something of a cupid. Every year there are a few couples who get engaged on the ride and this year, there is a wedding planned. Once he split up a group to ride in two boats, two people introduced each other, and a bit later, got engaged.
"I had a little bit of cupid in me I guess," says Keenan.
Romance aside, the ride is old-fashioned fun. It costs $3.25 to ride on Ye Old Mill, which is located on the southwest corner of Underwood Street and Carnes Avenue.
Shannon Slatton, firstname.lastname@example.org
on Twitter: @sslatton
August 27, 2015