Sam’s Amusements

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By BILL RODGERS / Tribune Chronicle

Visitors to the African-American Achievers Association annual festival will get the chance to try out a rare, vintage amusement park ride.

Bill Sams, owner of Sams Amusements, was busy Thursday morning setting up what he said was a 1922 Herschell-Spillman carousel in Warren’s Courthouse Square. The ride features the original horses.

“It’s all original. We rebuilt it after a fire almost destroyed it,” Sams said.

Sams wasn’t sure of the ride’s history, save that it sat in a barn in Elyria for years before the barn caught fire and damaged it. He got the ride for free from its owner.

Restoring the carousel to its original glory was the matter of three months of repairs and about $20,000, he said.

“The horses got the worst of it. They were really bad,” said Dave Conley, who worked with Sams on the project.

Conley and Sams researched the rides on the Internet for information on what they had. According to the Herschell Carousel Factory Museum Web site, the company dates back to the 1900s and specialized in portable amusement rides for traveling carnivals.

There are some changes to Sams’ carrousel. The floor is metal instead of wood, it uses a stereo instead of the old-time calliope, and some of the horses are fiberglass, but Sams believes his ride could be worth as much as $40,000.

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By TRAVINA COLEMAN – Tahlequah Daily Press

Many in the area took advantage from a break in the rain to enjoy the event.

The aroma of fried everything wafted through the crowds, of carnival goers Friday night: Popcorn, cotton candy, hot dogs, corn dogs, and funnel cakes, with powdered sugar generously sprinkled on them.

But that’s all a part of being at a spring carnival.

There is nothing like eating too much and getting sick on the Tilt-a-Whirl. Or rolling back and forth clutching your stomach in pain in the middle of the night.

Sam’s Amusements, a company that brings a carnival out of Okemah, has set up on the west side of Fourth Street, in the grass lot on the south side of Domino’s.

Short-tugging, excited children were hassling grandparents and older siblings as they made their way down the fairway at an early in the evening.

George Sheldon said most of the carnival goers come out around 6:30 to 7 p.m.

“The heat keeps them away” he said. “Then the sun goes down and you can’t turn around.”

New arrivals to Tahlequah, Roger Acoya and his 7-year-old son, Kunu just moved to the area after living in Los Angeles.

“Just wanted to get out and about,” he said.

Sallie Lepfer was bringing her grandchildren out to play.

Fiona, Rya, and Summer were cluthing their grandma’s hand, pulling her to another game.

“It’s been raining so much, I can’t keep them in anymore,” she said. “I thought why not.”

It’s true, the rains may have subsided momentarily, but carnival-goers with a wealth of humidity with which to deal.

Lepfer said she remembered going to carnivals when she was a child.

“They still have the Tilt-a-Whirl,” she said. “I guess some things don’t change. Even the corn dogs still taste the same.”

Roger Hingen, a carnival worker, said that even adults act like children at carnivals.

“It brings out the fun,” he said. “It’s nice to be a part of that.”

Stacy Halpern said she likes to go to the carnival every time she sees it.

“I just ask my mom to take me,” she said. “And she does.”

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