Riding the lightning at the Porter fair

2013-07-24T00:05:00Z Riding the lightning at the Porter fairPhil Wieland phil.wieland@nwi.com, (219) 548-4352 nwitimes.com

WASHINGTON TOWNSHIP | For a while Tuesday I thought the top treat on the midway menu at the Porter County Fair was going to be switched from the deep-fried butter balls to the flash fried basket of Speed riders.

You remember Speed? That's the towering Catapult of Death in the center of the ride midway. Two incredibly long arms with a basket at each end for people to sit while the arms spin forward, then backward, all while the basket tumbles head over heels. It's rumored riders were able to watch Kate birthing baby Cambridge from the top point of the ride.

When I arrived at 1 p.m., the sky was completely overcast and a pleasantly cool breeze brought the first tolerable temperatures of the fair. The breeze was a little brisk at times, which had to make the Catapult of Death even more death-defying, but that wasn't what concerned me.

To the north, the clouds looked dark enough to harbor a serious storm, another regular event at the Porter County Fair. It seems at least one Texas frog-strangler of a storm with tornadic winds hits the fair every year. Nobody really seems to mind. They just appreciate the wind chill.

The cooler weather helped generate a large crowd for so early in the day, and the Speed ride was busily whirling people out of the hats and lunches. As the darkest clouds finally reached the fairgrounds, they seemed to break up and make way for the usual baking sun.

No frogs would be strangled or baskets of folks fried this day, but it might merit a name change for the ride to the Lightning Rod of Death.

I keep waiting for a chance to tour the Indiana Department of Homeland Security RV parked near the fair entrance, but no one ever seems to be around and the door is always shut. Apparently, they are all inside intently monitoring the security of the fair and, I assume, the rest of the state against an assault by ... what? Corn dog terrorists?

(And don't you kid yourself that the terrorists don't want our corn dogs. Without corn dogs, half the fair's booths would be gone and visitors would have to be satisfied with deep-fried butter balls and Oreos.)

A tense cornhole game was underway in the Porter County Sheriff's Department tent, where the department's media spokesman Sgt. Larry LaFlower asked if I was going to write about the demonstration later that day or one of the other demonstrations later in the week.

I couldn't make Tuesday's, so LaFlower said, if I came to the police dog demo, I could put on the arm pad for the dog to attack. I told him I had a better idea. Put the pad on the dog and let me try to bite him.

I think they're going to get back to me on that after checking with the dog's lawyer.

The opinions are those of the writer. He can be reached at phil.wieland@nwi.com or (219) 548-4352.

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