"The activities cater to the family. Parents can watch their children on the rides, or ride with them," Merriam stressed.
Merriam, Tempe, Ariz., purchased the midway from his father in 1974. "I was the only son and when dad called me to say he was selling the midway, I told him to wait. I wanted to buy the midway," he said.
"I gave up an excellent job as a manager of a computer center at a college to do this. I could be retired now if I had stayed with the college," Merriam added. "But I wouldn't trade this for anything!"
The Merriam Midway has been coming to Paynesville for close to 20 years.
Merriam and his son operate two separate midways. The one in Paynesville has 11 rides. "We can set up and take down the rides rather quickly," he said. "With the smaller rides, we head to towns with limited space." The midway his son operates has larger, more difficult rides to set up, which require more time to set up and take down. His son contracts with towns where they can stay a week at a time.
New this year on the midway is the 4 by 4 and Rio Grande train. The oldest ride on the midway is the tilt-a-whirl, which dates back to 1947, and the merry-go-round, a 1948 model.
"My dad bought the merry-go-round new in 1948. I'm going to retire it at the end of this season and buy a new one. Bob Arbuckle has been operating the merry-go-round 40 years and knows everything there is about it," Merriam said. He added he would never sell the merry-go-round but will retire it to the city park in Tempe, Ariz.
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