A Hanford native is returning a tradition, now through Oct. 4, to the Caruthers District Fair. Carnival Owner Rick Larson, is bringing back the Derby Races game started by his family.
This will be the final appearance of the game which started at Caruthers in 1970, and appeared until 2009. The game is returning to Caruthers to celebrate 50 years of Larson Amusements, the family-owned carnival which started touring in 1965 at fairs across the state.
According to Larson, many people in Caruthers were never aware the game would not be returning after 2009.
“For three years people wondered where it went,” Larson said. They couldn’t believe it was gone.”
Larson’s father retired in 1964. His parents began running one derby race game the following year. At the age of 10 Larson began to announce the races for his parents’ game.
Since the 1970s Larson Amusements have made metal horses, which have been used as give away prizes for winners of the races. They continue to make the horses as special collector items.
Larson Amusements food wagon owner, Phil Cameron, feels this rare chance to trade the horses will help attract many locals to the fair.
“This event will be fun for horse traders because it gives them a chance to trade in person, the way it was done years ago,” Cameron said.
Larson went on to start American Travelling Shows, a touring Calif. Carnival which is now owned by his son. He and his sister, Debra, are the only two remaining members of the family who helped to start Larson Amusements. His sister continues to help him with his work.
Larson now spends his time building different carnival attractions. Among them is a “Jurassic Park,” type dinosaur ride which will also make an appearance in Caruthers, and according to Larson, is the only one of its kind in the United States.
Larson knows he is returning the game for more than one very special reason. “It brings nostalgia that old timers can now share with their children and grandchildren for one last time,” he said.