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Ride vs. Slide

Dunwoody College answering important question at State Fair booth

Alongside their favorite fair foods, fair deals, and live music, many people come to the Great Minnesota Get-Together for the unique attractions. Two of those — the Giant Slide and the Skyride — have been in operation at the Minnesota Fairgrounds for more than 50 years.  

As the State Fair kicks off today, fairgoers will have the opportunity to answer an important question: which of these two attractions is the most iconic?

Dunwoody College of Technology is once again using a FANUC industrial robotic arm at its booth in the Education Building to register and record the votes. With a push of a button, fairgoers can make their choice and receive a button featuring their selection.

This is the third year the College has featured the robotic arm at its booth and like in previous years, Dunwoody is expecting a close contest.

Students and faculty in the Robotics & Manufacturing Department programmed the industrial robot and designed and 3D-printed a special tray to hold the pins.

The tracking component will display the results of the “voting” and totals will be reported through Dunwoody’s social media accounts. Follow Dunwoody to see the results on Facebook and Instagram.

The Giant Slide vs. Skyride contest is a fun way for visitors to interact with some of the latest in robotics and automation, which is being taught at the College. Dunwoody students in programs such as Automated Systems & Robotics, Industrial Controls, Industrial Controls & Robotics, and Industrial Engineering Technology learn the skills needed to program and operate these high-tech machines for a wide variety of functions and uses in industry.

Not sure which one to pick?

Thanks to representatives from the Skyride and Giant Slide, we’ve pulled together some fun facts to help with this difficult decision.

Giant Slide

Fred and Beverly Pittroff were inspired to create the Giant Slide when they saw a similar one in Santa Cruz, California. Fred immediately hired an engineer and worked with his father-in-law, who was a scaffolder to build a slide. After trial and error in design, they opened 42 slides across the United States and one in Australia. In 1969, the iconic yellow and green slide was introduced to the Minnesota State Fair for the first time. The Pittroff family currently owns the slides at the Minnesota and Wisconsin state fairs.

Fun Facts:

  • The daughter of Fred and Beverly, Stacey Pittroff Barona, got married on the slide to her husband, Robert.
  • The slide generates $600,000 per year in ticket sales
  • Employees wax the slide by putting wax on the mats and sliding down
  • Stacey and Robert’s two children work the Giant Slide every summer
  • It is exactly 100 steps to reach the top
  • 200,000 people ride it each year
  • Most of the slide is the original product, just scaffolding has been replaced to keep up with Minnesota winters


Built in 1964, the Skyride was originally owned by Minnesotan Ed Hjermstad. When he retired, he passed ownership to Don McClure, the former owner of Buck Hill because of his experience working with chairlifts. It was installed by Von Roll, a Swiss company known for its chairlifts. To be extra-safe, McClure installed a backup electrical system and when the power went out a few years later, the Skyride was still working.

Fun Facts:

  • There are only 14 other Von Roll 101 Models in the world
  • During the State Fair, Don McClure lives in a studio inside the Skyride’s terminal where he runs safety drills and monitors the weather
  • Nearly every part has been replaced, except for the retro-style gondola chairs
  • The Skyride can sell more than 20,000 tickets on the State Fair’s busiest days
  • It generates $1.4 – 2.2 million in ticket sales each year
  • It is about ⅓ of a mile long and runs from The Blue Barn to the AgHort building
  • It is made up of only three parts: a giant motor, a rope and a counterweight

Stop by the Dunwoody booth to choose your team and wear your button around the Fair.