State Fair's giant slide celebrates 50 years

The State Fair kicked off Thursday

The 167th edition of the Wisconsin State Fair kicked off Thursday. Nearly a third of that time has been captivated by a giant slide.

"Fifty years is a long time," Stacey Barona, one of the owners of the slide said. "We're in the third generation of kids. We have my two kids helping us and it's super exciting."

Stacey Barona's father created the slide in 1968 after going to a fair convention. He saw a slide there and he and his wife decided they could make a bigger and better one. 

And it took off.

"He did build 42 of them so we thought it would be pretty big," Stacey said. "It was so popular he had to keep building and building and building."

Families barrel down the slide all day during the State Fair. It's become as big a tradition as cream puffs and flavored milk. Even for the governor of Wisconsin.

"Nothing better than kicking off the State Fair on the big slide out there," Gov. Scott Walker said. "The giant slide, a great tradition."

Walker says he's been riding the slide since he was a kid growing up in Delavan. Then, after he and Tonette were married and had children, they would come here with their kids. The slide was always a must-hit experience when at the fair, just like the rest of the families sliding down Thursday. 

"It's tradition," Amanda Ramsfield of Milwaukee said. "We come every year and we always come right to the slide and go down the slide."

"It's fun and fast," Ramsfield's niece Zoey said. "If you go in the morning, it wakes you up when you're really tired."

Zoey was surely awake after traveling down the giant yellow slide twice Thursday morning. As she smiled from ear to ear on her way to get some sort of fair food, those moments are what make the slide so special to the Barona family. 

"I love to see the kids jump up and down and say, I want to do it again," Stacey said. "That's the best part about it."

Stacey has smiled both working the slide and as a parent. Her two daughters have been going down the slide since they were in diapers. One of which started going down before she could barely open her eyes. 

"Since day one I've been a part of it," Isabella Barona said. "My family made sure of that."

Isabella made her first trip down the slide at just five days old. Nestled into a front snuggle pack, her mom took her down; fittingly doing it like a kangaroo would a joey while they were at a fair in Australia. 

Now, three generations working on the slide, it's something Isabella is looking forward to taking over some day. 

"My sister and I plan to be co-partners one day and run the slide for another 50 more years," Isabella said.

 

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