PALMER — An aftershock is not something that Alaskans may have considered thrilling, that is before the Alaska State Fair opens this weekend. Debuting at the Fair this year will be Golden Wheel Amusements largest roller coaster in Alaska, the “Aftershock.” Made by Interpark in Modena, Italy, this gravitational style coaster stands at 40 feet tall and reaches speeds of up to 35 miles per hour.
“I enjoy it from the ground,” said Golden Wheel co-owner Jacqueline Leavitt. “It’s like nothing else in the state of Alaska and not only in the state of Alaska but when you get up there and you look around and you see the glaciers and the mountains, it’s just thrilling.”
The Fair opens on Friday for the first time in two years after covid forced the first cancelation of the Fair since 1942. With a new weekend-only schedule this year and updated health and safety protocols, the Fair staff are excited to welcome visitors back to the fairgrounds in Palmer. The Fair has averaged approximately 300,000 visitors in years past.
“We’ve had nothing but overwhelmingly positive responses about having the fair. People are excited to reconnect with the family experience, that tradition that they had of coming to the Fair every year. People so missed it last year with the covid and shutting down the Fair, so people are really excited, the vendors are really excited,” said ASF General Manager Jerome Hertel.
Hertel, ASF board members and others were offered a sneak-peak at the Aftershock on Tuesday. The Aftershock has 1,181 feet of track and features drops of 25 feet. The average ride time is one minute and 20 seconds, and tickets to the Aftershock are sold separately from other rides at the Fair.
“I think that people need to come early the lines are going to be long for this,” said Leavitt. “It’s something that we could only do at the Alaska State Fair and we’ve only been able to do it through the support and partnership with the management and the board and they were all really, really supportive and they’ve created a special place for it and it will actually stay here only here at the Fair.”
The Aftershock begins with a long, slow roll up to the top of the tracks with a picturesque view over the other rides at the Fair near the green gate before the backdrop of the Chugach and Talkeetna Mountain ranges and the Knik Glacier. The Aftershock is certain to elicit screams audible by those sitting in Glenn Highway traffic over a hundreds of yards away. Leavitt said that tickets will be limited per day and she expects the excitement of the Aftershock to create a long line at the Fair. Unlike other rides that Golden Wheel Amusements rents out to other festivals around Alaska, residents can only ride the Aftershock at the Alaska State Fair.
“The Alaska State Fair has the largest selection of rides from Golden Wheel. It’s the only time of the year that they set up all their rides and that’s at the Alaska State Fair, and it’s the largest event in the state of Alaska, and we get that claim to fame because we have the largest ride selection, we have the most vendors, we have the most people. It’s the largest celebration in Alaska,” said Hertel. “It was a great thrill, it was exciting. I really enjoyed it and I’m probably going to go on it again.”