The 2004 National Carousel Association Technical Conference - Amazing as Ever!

In l990 The National Carousel Association (NCA) launched the first Carousel Technical Conference. Conducted each spring in a different region of the United States, these "three day weekend" workshops are designed and presented by carousel support group members and or carousel operators. Their intend is to help other carousels in such technical areas as mechanical repairs, insurance, preservation techniques, marketing, and promotion of our remaining carousels. This year's NCA Technical conference was held in the wonderful town of Salem, Oregon. Base camp was the Red Lion Hotel, with commutes to the Riverfront Carousel in downtown Salem.

The conference began with a tour of the awesome Clackamas Town Center Mall exhibit put on by the Perron family. It is the world's largest collection of carousel art -- featuring three antique ride-able carousels, a children's Ferris wheel, a children's train that travels through a carousel wonderland, a museum showcasing the history of the carousel, complete with various antique carousel figures and chariots. This particular Perron showcase is an extension of their International Museum of Carousel Art in Hood River, Oregon. Afterward, the group visited the Walker carving studio in Salem. Dave Walker is the master carver for Salem’s Riverfront Carousel. He and his wife Sandy developed the studio for both teaching and creating their own art pieces. The first day of the conference ended with a stopover at the Riverfront Carousel. Here participants were able to: “Shop ‘til you drop” in the incredible carousel gift shop; ride the spectacular merry-go-round over and over again; and participate in a sample event party.

The second day of the conference provided for some highly informative technical sessions, with participants discussing the many aspects of operating a carousel. Then there was a short break to clear ones head of all technical information and prepare for a night of fun and socializing. As the group arrived back at the carousel, there was a chance for more shopping and rides, eating more food, and a very enjoyable river cruise.

On the third day, conference goers met one last time for breakfast and good-byes. Then everyone was on their own to visit other carousels in the area. For instance, there is the Albany project (newly carved pieces on a vintage Dentzel frame - in progress), a metal Parker merry-go-round at Thrill-Ville USA, and the great Herschell-Spillman menagerie carousel at Oaks Park. Also, just a little further up the highway is the Parker carousel at Jantzen Beach shopping center in Portland, and The International Museum of Carousel Art in Hood River, Oregon.

In summary, this year’s conference was another fantastic opportunity to immerse oneself in the amazing world of merry-go-rounds -- Incentive not to miss next year’s meeting.

Dennis Towndrow