Monday, October 21, 2013

Big wheel keep on turning*

For a bird's-eye view

The 200-foot-tall Great Smoky Mountain Wheel is a new attraction that opened this summer in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. 

Glass-sided gondolas
The Smokies wheel is touted for aerial views of the Smoky Mountains from all-glass gondolas that seat up to eight guests.  I prefer to do my viewing of the Smokies from ground level, up close and personal, where I can see, touch, hear, smell and even taste the real Smokies.

Great Smoky Mountain Wheel 

But I did enjoy our drive-by visit to the giant ferris wheel on our way home from a 10-day road trip. My interest was piqued by the wheel’s similarity to the iconic London Eye on the Thames River in that city. The London Eye is 443 feet, more than twice as tall as the Pigeon Forge wheel.

An even smaller wheel crafted from fall vegetation and mountain materials is a mini-version of Pigeon Forge's big wheel. The close up below is cropped from the previous photo.
Cornstalk ferris wheel?

One of the online sites I checked pointed out that the term “ferris wheel” no longer applies to these more technologically advanced, modern “observation wheels.” I grew up loving ferris wheels, roller coasters and all those centrifugal rides that could practically sling your eyeballs out.

Somehow, "observation wheel" sounds more like a school assignment than the carnival fun of riding on the ferris wheel at the annual county fair. Swinging high above the crowds, I savored midway aromas: popcorn, corn dogs, candied apples and cotton candy.

Swept away were the last of the not-unpleasant scents from our visit to the livestock exhibits: the sunshiny smell of hay and the earthy scent of meticulously groomed prize-winning pigs and cows.

The 93rd edition of our county’s fair opened its week-long run yesterday. We haven’t been in decades. The food on the midway isn’t the draw for me. But all those off-midway fund-raising booths selling seafood gumbo, barbecue, fried fish dinners and pies absolutely call to me.

There is even pecan pie on a stick this year. Fairgoers can nibble the sweet treat, crust and all, as they stroll the midway.

The food is prepared by locals who are passionate about their non-profit cause and passionate about their cooking. It’s a winning combination that has folks lining up for tried and true dishes from their favorite cooks and organizations or to sample a new group’s fare.

Maybe its time to talk to Hubby about a trip to the fair this week!

*Hat tip for post title to John Fogerty’s “Proud Mary” lyrics


  1. I really hope yo go! And bring your camera. I love the small autumn wheel. I have heard of the London Eye, and did not think it was used anymore? Just kind of a mascot. The food at your fair sounds SO much better than regular fair fare!!

  2. that gondola wheel is amazing and not something I would ride, but i would like to see it and your photo of it is beautiful. i like the little one much better and that is very creative to do that one.. i don't do rides at all, only the merry go round, but the rest of the fair i would like, count me in on the food part

  3. I too could do the food part with no problem. That wheel would have me whimpering like a baby. I still have nightmares about the wheel at Coney Island when I was kid. It is a shame for I hear the views are wonderful.

  4. They will always be Ferris wheels to me. I would suffer vertigo in the glass kind, however. Makes me woosey to think about it. Dianne

  5. You brought back memories of my teens - swinging with my steady (now my hubby) at the top of the wheel. Not sure about pie on a stick though!

  6. I would dare to ride the observation wheel, and the views would be outstanding. The fair sounds like fun too.

  7. There's a touch of magic about a ferris wheel ride! The opportunity to catch a bird's eye view of everything around, as well as see to the far horizon makes for something very special! I love them and yours looks just wonderful!

  8. That's a wonderful idea. We don't have volunteer organization food booths here at our fair. I'd really love to have pie on a stick. OOOOOOOOOoooo!