Carousel and Museum Open Extended Hours During the 2023 Fair
The carousel and museum are open from 11 to 8 on Monday through Saturday during Fair
Week. Rides are only on the hour and half hour.
Though ordinary summer operating hours for the world- famous Kit Carson County Carousel and the Carousel Museum are 11 a.m.-6 p.m. …the carousel and the Carousel Museum will be open from 11 a.m.-8 p.m. during the Fair (Monday through Saturday) July 24--July 29. The carousel first operated during the Fair of 1928. It ran during the 1929 and 1930 County Fairs and then resumed operation in 1938. Due to the drought and the Great Depression, Kit Carson County did not have a fair from 1931-1937…but America’s favorite Merry-Go-Round had spun merrily around at every fair since…until COVID stopped all operations of Colorado Amusement Rides in 2020. Carousel? Merry-Go-Round? There is NO difference between a Merry-Go-Round and a Carousel (in spite of an old wives’ tale that say one goes one way and one goes another.). But…carousels and Merry-Go-Rounds do go one way in America (counterclockwise) and another direction in England (clockwise).
The carousel and museum will be closed between 3 and 4 each day for cleaning and oiling and there may be a few times during scheduled fair operating hours that the carousel will be closed for a brief period of time due to events or award ceremonies in the park. The carousel will run only on the hour and half hour throughout Fair Week. The rides must still be spaced so as not to overheat the 117-year-old motor…particularly on days when the outside temperature is over 80. When it is 80 degrees outside…it is 87 or higher on the inside of the carousel building and even hotter in the center where the engine and Auchy clutch are located. After over a century of use, the wheel and the rotors on the clutch are wearing and will need resurfaced in the near future. It has been recommended that the number of riders per operation be capped at the estimated weight of 30 adults…but if there are a lot of children on the ride, then the total number can increase. Kit Carson County must also abide by the universal height standard set by the amusement park licensing division of the Colorado Department of Labor (the carousel is licensed as an amusement park ride rather than a carnival ride because it always operates in the same location). This means that in order to ride the carousel alone, a child must be at least 42 inches tall. A child shorter than 42 inches must be accompanied on the ride. The child may ride on an animal alone but a responsible older sibling or adult must accompany him on the ride and either be within reach of the child or standing next to the animal that the child is on. By the time the ride is loaded, safety rules presented, riders checked to make sure that all are on an animal or sitting in a chariot, the ride is run and then its passengers unloaded…the total experience lasts almost 20 minutes. The Kit Carson County Carousel is the only carousel left in the nation that still uses the Auchy clutch to operate. Carousel Association members with assistance from other researchers have now an expanded exhibit for the museum that depicts the uniqueness and smoothness of that clutch. The carousel museum is celebrating its sixteenth season of being open and welcomes visitors throughout the summer…and as the museum is heated (and air conditioned), this enables more bus tours to visit the carousel during the off-season. The museum is a “must-see” and a “must- touch” experience. Learn how a carousel animal is carved. Try the one-note band organ and discover the magic of music a full century before iPod! And…just who did paint those 45 scenery panels?
To help support the “care and feeding” of the animals, a favorite animal contest is being held. Stop by the carousel and vote for one or more…vote once or vote often. Each vote costs a penny, and the winning animal will get the honor of wearing a grand-champion ribbon as he (she?) spins around the 45- foot platform at 12 miles an hour. The Kit Carson County Carousel was built before the jumping (up and down) mechanism was developed, so though the animals do not rise and fall like later carousels…they rotate at almost twice the speed of most merry-go-rounds. Voting starts on Wednesday and continues through Saturday at noon.
Hoofbeats, the carousel gift shop is showcasing the third pottery mug in Series II. In 2019 the first series of the Kit Carson County Carousel Mugs was completed: sixteen years and sixteen outside row animals! Now a second series with a totally different look has begun and the first animal to be featured was the fan favorite…the armored horse. The second one (and a few are still available) was the colorful hippocampus and the 2023 figure gracing this year’s hand thrown mugs is the Rose Pony. Mugs come in different sizes and several colors. The 2023 T-Shirt features the Dog and is available in six very bold colors. For the first time, a very small shirt for the littlest fans can be purchased. Also available is a coloring book illustrated by Taos artist, Valerie Graves…great for kids AND adults. Or you can purchase a rhinestone carousel horse brooch with a magnetic back so the pin can be worn on your favorite sweater without leaving pin holes. Or, take home one or more of four cuddly carousel animals made just for kids (or kids at heart) that love the carousel. These 12-inch -high horses, tigers, lions and giraffes wear a smaller version of the 2023 T-shirt. Stop by the gift shop and ask about the “retired memorabilia” items that may not have been available for years. Sometimes, the Carousel Association is honored with contributions from various estates of figures, mugs, and jewelry that was long-ago “retired”. One of the most impressive items in the Hoofbeats gift shop is the 144- page coffee table book: Philadelphia Toboggan Company Carousel No. 6: The Kit Carson County Carousel. Already a best-seller, the book is available in hardback and each one is shrink-wrapped but sample books are open at the gift shop for you to leaf through and ooh and ah. The book is a perfect gift for anyone who has ever ridden the carousel…pages and pages of images just waiting to make you smile as they bring back rides and memories of years ago. AND to compliment that souvenir book is a less expensive 26 -page photo “booklet” about the carousel. This booklet is the fourth one produced by the Carousel Association during the past four decades. Puzzle lovers will find the newest item in Hoofbeats absolutely irresistible… a 145-piece wooden masterpiece! The full view depiction of the carousel (highlighting the armored horse) is by local photographer Paulette Thompson. The shapes making up the puzzle are fun and unique and include a chariot, each of the outside row animals, a barn, the letters K and C, etc. Unlike your child’s wooden puzzle, this puzzle is super challenging to complete! Supply is limited…so first come first serve. There is also a very limited number of miniature replicas of the angel pony, the armored horse and the hippocampus for sale. Three decades ago, the Carousel Association begin producing each of the outside row animals as twelve- inch high "statues"...cast in resin and then hand-painted. One animal was produced each year. The original sixteen have been long retired but the armored, angel and hippocampus were laterre-molded and beautifully hand-painted in Rhode Island. These are the very last ones ever to be available as the cost of production has become too high.
The Wurlitzer Monster Military Band Organ is often the main draw for some visitors. Old and young riders alike find that the tunes churning from the music rolls which include The Colonel Bogey March, Battle Hymn of the Republic, Take Me Out to The Ball Game, and Under the Double Eagle along with several other great “carousel riding” songs make their carousel ride even more magical. Don’t won’t want to sit astride a horse or a giraffe or a growly lion? Then hop aboard and nestle down in one of the newly restored chariot seats. Those pokey springs have been removed and the vinyl seats and backs are now upholstered in leather. Come to the 2023 Kit Carson County Fair!! Ride your favorite animal for just a quarter. Spend several minutes or several hours at the museum. Museum admission is $1.00 a person with children nine and under free if accompanied by an adult. Then leave Hoofbeats with the perfect memento of your four-minute spin on the most famous carousel in America.
Remember, the carousel and museum are open from 11 to 8 on Monday through Saturday during Fair Week. Rides are only on the hour and half hour.