County fair brings together cultures, generations

The ferris wheel shines bright at the Riley County Fair in CiCo Park on Saturday July 25, 2015. (Emily Starkey | The Collegian)

Typically, a fair means fried food, carnival rides and games. Last week’s Riley County Fair, however, also provided lasting memories for both locals and visitors from around the world.

Ottaway Amusement Co., a company that helped make the Riley County Fair happen, employs from all over the globe. DJ Le Roux, 20, came to the U.S. from South Africa to take a job opportunity with the company.

“There’s a recruitment agency in South Africa that recruits South Africans to come work in America on mobile carnivals,” Le Roux said.

According to Le Roux, the agency uses an application process to find out which carnival is best suited for each candidate. He also said that the job gives a sense exploration and adventure.

“The best part of the job is seeing different places, meeting different people,” Le Roux said. “Every day is an adventure.”

Though there are several cultural differences between his home and ours, Le Roux said that many of his co-workers are also from South Africa.

“It just seems like the possibilities in America are so much easier than in South Africa,” Le Roux said.

It’s these carnival workers that make it possible for the Manhattan community to make memories that last for generations.

“(The last time I came to the fair) was when my own kids were younger,” Sean Fox, of Manhattan, said. “It was probably about 10 years ago. It’s pretty much as I remember it, to be honest.”

Fox said he’s gone from taking his children so many years ago, to sharing the experience with his nieces this year. Fox isn’t the only local to recall the consistency of the fair over the decades, however.

“We’ve lived in Manhattan for 24 years, so (we have come to the fair) just about every year,” Pam Stokes, of Manhattan, said. “Our kids grew up here and now we’ve got granddaughters … it’s pretty much the same.”

Photos from the fair:

My name is Emily Moore and I'm a senior majoring in English and mass communications with a minor in leadership. I love to read, write and edit. During my free time, I enjoy doing crossword puzzles, rock climbing and spending time with my friends.