The Space Tower, a landmark on the Minnesota State Fairgrounds, has broken down and will remain offline for the duration of the 12-day event, according to State Fair officials.
The Fair opened Aug. 24 and closes on Labor Day, Sept. 4.
A staple of the State Fair since 1965, the tower and its slowly rising and spinning cylindrical rider platform have offered generations of fairgoers a 360-degree view of the Twin Cities and the attractions of the Falcon Heights fairgrounds, and its blinking lights provide a warm goodbye to departing visitors at nightfall.
On Wednesday evening, Fair officials released a limited statement about the breakdown by email: “The Space Tower will not reopen during the 2023 State Fair. The ride requires specialized electronic equipment that will not arrive in time before the close of the fair.”
A marketing official reached shortly before 9:30 p.m. said she had no further details to offer. A police officer answering the phone at State Fair police headquarters said he also had no details to share.
When it was constructed in 1964, parts were manufactured in Germany and shipped to Duluth before bring trucked to the fairgrounds. Many identical Space Towers have been built throughout the world, with a seating capacity of 50 to 60 passengers. Each ride takes some three to five minutes.
Ownership of the attraction has changed hands several times, passing from the original owner after his death to his children, and in 1982 to attorney Errol and Gretchen Kantor and their sons, Joe and Ben.
In the 1980s, a derring-do tightrope walker performed 340 feet above a public viewing area, navigating between the tops of the 4-H Building and the Space Tower, with U.S. Marines stationed below with a safety net. The Fair discontinued the stunt for fear that the aerialist or his pole would fall and injure the spectators below.
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