Midway rides every day at Old Settlers Days


The Orient Express roller coaster

Skinner's Amusements may not have sold roller coaster tickets to the Macks, the Talcotts, or other "old settlers," but they have provided midway rides to slightly newer settlers in Rockton and Roscoe for a long time.

How long? The company was founded in 1910, but Patricia Skinner, granddaughter-in-law of the company's founder, remembers meeting for lunch at the Wagon Wheel with Rockton printer Jim Balsley to sign her first Fall Festival booking with the Roscoe Lions Club. The Wagon Wheel closed in 1989.

This year, just as they have many other years, Skinner's Amusements is bringing multiple carnival rides to Old Settlers Days. Tickets cost $1 each and it takes 2-5 tickets for most rides. However, carnival fanatics of any age can save with a $25 wristband that gives them four hours of unlimited rides, either Thursday 5:00-9:00 p.m. or Saturday 1:00-5:00 p.m.

Skinner's Amusements will also offer specials on Friday and Sunday - details are unspecified at this point.

Carnival wristbands are good only on the day of purchase and for the length of the advertised special. If a parents rides with a small child, both riders need tickets.  Some rides require two riders, for balance. And of course, children must have risen to a certain height to ride certain rides. That's why you should always eat your vegetables.

Skinner's Amusements began when George Skinner, who had been a farmer near Crystal Lake, lost an arm in a machine and had to find another way to support his family. He had seen a steam-powered merry-go-round, says Patricia, and "it sparked his interest. He bought one and his farmer friends helped move it. He would go to sites for two, three weeks."  According to a 2020 story by Mary Weber in CarnivalWarehouse, Patricia met George's grandson Doug Skinner when he was running a Ferris wheel, and she later married him.

Carnival Hours:
Thursday: 5:00-10:00 p.m.
Special: Wristbands – all rides, all ages, 5:00-9:00 p.m. for $25
Ticket sales will begin at 4:00 p.m.

Friday: 5:00-11:00 p.m.
Special: TBA
Ticket sales will begin at 4:45 p.m.

Saturday: 1:00-11:00 p.m.
Special: Wristbands – all rides, all ages, 1:00-5:00 p.m. for $25
Ticket sales begin at 12:30 p.m.

Sunday: 2:00-9:30 p.m.
Special: reduced ticket pricing
Ticket sales will begin at 1:30 p.m.

All the locations they serve are in Illinois: three county fairs and many festivals, many of which have been on their route for over 40 years. All employees receive drug tests and background checks, and all rides are state-inspected several times a year. Says Patricia: "New tags are on each piece." The State of Illinois even used Skinner's practices to help establish state guidelines for equipment set up and tear down. Their season begins May 1 and ends in October with Settlers Days Marengo, a 50 year tradition.

The Skinners remind their riders to please keep the following general safety rules in mind:

  • READ and follow all posted rules, height and age restrictions.
  • EXPLAIN why children should not stand up, unlock or loosen restraints or exit a ride while it is in motion.
  • DON'T pressure friends and children into going on a ride if they are afraid.
  • LISTEN to the ride operator's instructions.
  • USE the safety equipment provided like seat belts, lap bars and shoulder harnesses.
  • KEEP hands, arms, legs, feet and head inside the ride at all times and hold onto the handles provided.
  • STAY seated until the ride comes to a full and complete stop.
  • LOOK for the ride or attraction's current permit to operate sticker issued by the Illinois Department of Labor.
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