Zuri Berry
Staff Writer

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August 6, 2009
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Neverland Ranch ride coming to fair


The Nevada County Fair will feature a touch of Michael Jackson flair when it opens next week.

The fair will have Balloon Samba, a ride purchased from Michael Jackson's Neverland Ranch, which included his own personal amusement park.

Fairfield-based carnival company Butler Amusements, which contracts with the fair each year, bought the ride in September 2008 when Jackson sold off much of the ranch's amenities to pay off debts.

"I don't know how much each of the rides cost, but the Balloon Samba was about on the high end," said Butler Amusements spokeswoman Andrea Owen.

The ride, which was included in the package of rides when the fair booked with Butler Amusements, has carriages designed to look like hot-air balloons. The Balloon Samba seats 32 children riding beneath six "balloons."

It will be part of the carnival area during Nevada County's five-day fair, which opens Aug. 12.

Butler Amusements bought the ride along with five others from Jackson's Neverland Ranch. One ride is traveling with the Butler Amusements' Oregon-Washington carnival unit, one is operating at Coney Island, one is at the Stanislaus County Fair and the others are being refurbished at Butler's winter quarters in Santa Nella.

The Balloon Samba did not need any repairs when it was purchased, Owen added.

Jackson's amusement park on his sprawling property in Santa Barbara County included a floral clock, numerous statues of children, a zoo and two railroads. Other carnival rides included a Ferris wheel, roller coaster, merry-go-round and bumper cars.

The late pop singer and dancer left the property in 2005 after allegations surfaced of sexual misconduct with children there. The facilities were closed and most of his staff were dismissed in 2006.

This year's fair runs Aug. 12 -16.

For more information, visit NevadaCountyFair.com or call (530) 273-6217.

To contact Staff Writer Zuri Berry, contact zberry@theunion.com or (530) 477-4244.


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The Union Updated Aug 6, 2009 11:04PM Published Aug 6, 2009 10:55PM Copyright 2009 The Union. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.