High Desert Memories - A Hometown Journal Commemorating Ridgecrest California
Desert Empire Fair
The Desert Empire Fair got its start when I still lived in Ridgecrest. It was always one great big celebration with a parade, a carnival and lots of other attractions to take ones attention. At that time I was in the Burroughs High School marching band and we always had a slot in the parade. Here is a link to a brief history of the fair and a page that describes the efforts to expand through Friends of the Fair.
The pictures in this section are furnished by Robert Holly of Ridgecrest. Taken in 1974.
The Fair has certainly expanded over the years to include a lot more displays, art, animal shows, contests and other features. I would certainly appreciate it if anyone having photos of these events and others down thru the years would send them to me for scanning (Your photos will be returned to you) for inclusion here on this page.
THE DESERT EMPIRE FAIR:
From the little cars that just went around in a circle (thrilling for a six year old), the hammer head,scissors,ferris wheel......I remember going to the fair the first year it was moved to the South side of town, out past Doc Jackson's Animal hospital. Took a girl I had a major crush on named Rhonda. Long brown hair, sky blue eyes, we rode on a "New" ride called the Scrambler about 5 times in a row. Big Mistake! The ground wouldn't stop spinning when we finally got off and Mr. Macho lost his cookies (or was it two chili-hot dogs, a root beer, cotton candy and a hershey's bar?) I was so embarassed!!!! Still remember how supportive of me she was afterward. Her family moved to Fairchild and I lost touch with her after writing several years. What could have been? My first true date was at the fair.
I recall the only thing on the "old"fairgrounds was a few billboards. Went and did figure eights there one time in a '63 Galaxie I had as a senior. Now that was a ride I wish I still owned.Bucket seats, center console,automatic with a 390 engine. Yuck purple, somewhere between brown and pink. Semi fast, comfortable road handler.......
Those rides were nothing compared to the coasters at Magic Mountain, Knott's,Disneyland etc. that they have now. I love going with my stepson [the ultimate thrillseeker]. His mom, Rhonda (what a coincidence) stays firmly planted on the ground most of the time. Totally gnarly, white knuckles, shut-your-eyes and scream bloody murder is "Deja-Vu" at Six Flags. She will not, absolutely refuses to ride. Colossus, the giant wood coaster is as extreme as she'll go.
I digress..and to think that my love for rides all goes back to the "boats" and "cars" at the Desert Empire Fair.
Yes, aside from the Home Depot that's going up R/C has really changed from the town it was when we were younger. I was amazed that they finally built something on the East side of China Lake Blvd. It isn't "just desert" from there to Burroughs anymore. There's the Matarango Museum (moved off the base) and a Mervyn's Shopping center too.
David Hillman (72)
My first date was at the fair. My first boyfriend, in the 7th grade, Scott. His parents took us and dropped us off. I had his big nickel skull ring on a chain around my neck. We went on the Loop-O-Plane and the ring flew up and gave me a black eye...LOL! My sister Billie and I loved the Tilt-O-Whirl. We would ride it til we puked....usually corn dogs and cotton candy....I am laughing now. I hated a ride called the Hammer!
When we go to Six Flags I ride things like the mini mine train and the Texas Shoot Out. All the water rides. I hate the roller coasters. I used to love roller coasters, but now they all have loops and I hate that. Guess I am a big sissy...:D
Pam Parsons (72)
Ah those fairground billboards. The prime spot from which to view the parade. Anyone else remember Monty Montana standing on his horse & spinning his lariat while trying to rope the kids? Some memories are probably better than the reality.
Ron Potter (72)
I do remember Monty Montana, and in addition to that I rode on Roy Rogers horse with him for a short distance in the parade when I was about 4 or 5 years old. I had been eating a popcicle and he did not care that I was dripping with sticky. He rode over to us and asked my mom if it was o.k. and she said yes. He leaned down and took me from my mother's arms and sat me in front of him....hog heaven, I tell you! I drove everyone nuts talking about it for months. I had all kinds of Roy Rogers and Dale Evans gear when I was a kid.
Pam Parsons (72)
One of the neatest rides that the fair ever offered was during the early 60's. For only $5 you could ride in a real Bell helicopter over the city. The 'copter offered no doors on either side but was graced with the huge and easily recognizable bubble canopy that some of us saw in the tv serial "Whirlybirds". The ride itself lasted around 5 or 10 minutes and flew over the housing area ranging from Bud Eyre Chevrolet to the original Mormon Temple on North Norma Street before returning to the fairgrounds. Still to this day that was the neatest ride that I'd ever taken at any fair or carnival. THANKS DAD!
all the best,