Carousel Set To Spin Again In Appleton City


In 2021, Linda Lampkin learned that the traveling carnival that came to the Appleton City Fair every year wasn’t coming. The reason — Mary Reinke, who owned the Southern Fun Carnival, had died the previous year, and the carnival, based in Anderson, Mo., was being dismantled and sold.
Linda, the fair chairperson, was disappointed that the carousel, which children had ridden on every year for 11 years, would not be there for future generations.
So she went to Anderson with a mechanic friend and bought it.
She will open the gate at 4 p.m. on May 27 and set the animals spinning. The opening, on the Friday of Memorial Weekend, is a much anticipated event for Appleton City residents, for whom Linda bought it.
“It’s a thank-you for all the parents and grandparents who did business with my father, uncle and great-uncle,” she said.
Linda’s father and her uncle owned the Lampkin Bros. Grain Company from 1954 to 1974. Her great-uncle owned the hardware store from 1924 to 1963.
Linda said she bought the carousel because she wanted to contribute something to keep the town going. Originally a school teacher, she worked in Kansas City for Ralston-Purina as the first female salesperson west of the Mississippi, then at Kansas City Metro Community College as program coordinator of business and industry.
It isn’t an old carousel, Linda said, but was made by the San Antonio Roller Works between 2000 and 2002. Run by an electric motor, it is a menagerie model, with a variety of animals, from a rooster and a rabbit to a giraffe, zebra and elephant, plus eight horses.
The animals, 18 in all, are made of aluminum, so there is a maximum weight limit for the rider of 150 pounds, set by the manufacturer. It is strictly enforced for safety. Young children must be accompanied by a person at least five feet tall.
Linda set the carousel up as a non-profit. The price for a ride is whatever people want to pay, she said, as long as it’s a U.S. paper bill and you don’t want change — she doesn’t want to deal with change or coins.
All the animals go up and down, but the project itself had to jump some hurdles. After buying two lots and having them surveyed, the workers found evidence of the previous building on the site -- when it was demolished, the pieces were buried on the lot. Someone who wanted the huge stones hauled off 25 truckloads of it, she said.
Next, Linda had to bring in gravel, which was an unexpected cost. In July of 2022, the concrete was poured, and Linda put her initials, LL, in it.
Linda had seen the antique carousel in Story City, Iowa, which is in an octagonal building, and knew that’s what she wanted. Construction of the framework for the building started last October and was finished in late December.
“It was all my plan,” she said. “It’s what I envisioned.”
They had a time getting the center supports up, she said. She had all the metal frame work powder-coated, she said, to minimize future maintenance. Then the brickwork for the walls was started, and doors and windows were installed.
The day after New Year’s, the walk-in doors went in. In mid-January, members of the carnival owner’s family came and installed the carousel, backing the central mechanism through the door.
The carousel didn’t come with a sound system, so she decided to invest in one. They told her she could use a boom box, but she figured that since she had ‘spent a dime’ on the project, she might as well spend another nickel. For music, she contacted the operator of the Fort Leavenworth carousel, who sent her ten discs of calliope music.
Linda said she looked for a good book on carousels to guide her, but never found one. She put her own labor into getting the carousel ready, and spent hours scraping pieces of contact paper off the ovals that will hold mirrors.
“I was up that ladder five to six hours a day,” she said.
She also bought 100 replacement bulbs for the small round colored lights that cover the carousel. The poles that hold the animals are painted in rainbow colors because Linda is active in leadership of the Rainbow Girls. The colors serve a practical purpose— if she needs to balance the platform, she can direct a rider to an animal on a different colored pole.
Linda applied for a permit from the Missouri Division of Fire Safety and Amusement Rides, and the carousel passed inspection. She visited carousels at the Columbia Mall, in Branson and in Oklahoma City, and developed a list of rules to deter any problems. Linda is putting up signs for the behavior she’s hoping to engender in the riders: Kindness and Respect, for the carousel and for each other.
Other safety regulations: Riders need to be suitably clothed — no wet swimsuits —and have on firm sole shoes, not flip flops or slide sandals.
People in Appleton City have been anticipating the opening of the carousel for months, she said, but especially since the lettering went up. She has received 40 photographs from people of their children riding the carousel, and one parent sent photos taken of their child at the fair on the same carousel animal two years in a row.
Starting Memorial Day weekend, the carousel will be open on weekends, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., through Labor Day.
Linda has roots in Henry County as well as Appleton City. She lives in a farmhouse on a hill west of Montrose, and can direct you to the original site of the dog-trot log cabin that was moved to the Henry County Museum grounds in the 1990s. It’s close to the place where her great-parents settled in 1865, she said, and near the corner where Mt. Hope Church was built in 1880, and where Linda’s club still meets.
Linda has the pier mirror and organ lamp her mother bought that were in the house that was built around the dog-trot cabin. Another historic note: Linda’s uncle, Charles Lampkin, was the youngest presiding judge in Missouri in the 1950s.
In Appleton City, Linda is active in Appleton City Landmarks Restoration, Inc., which operates the Appleton City Museum and History Center, at 503 N. Maple, and restored and maintains the original Appleton City Library, the third oldest public library in Missouri, and the railroad depot, the last remaining depot on MK&T line.
For Appleton City’s 2020 sesquicentennial, Linda compiled historic photographs and researched the history of the city’s buildings. She has a photo of the building where the carousel is now, in the 100 block of the main street (4th Street), just past the city park.
Tin signs across the top of the building in the old photo identify the main occupants, the IOOF lodge and Herald Printing.
Down the street from the carousel, at the Appleton City librarian set up a gold carousel horse in the library window, and Ramona Swisher at 3 Wishes put her white unicorn in the window of her art gallery.
“They are welcoming the carousel to town,” Linda said.
To get to Appleton City, taked Hwy. 13 to the Montrose exit, then follow 52 west to the edge of Montrose and follow the signs south, then west, to Appleton City. For questions, call 660-476-5857 between 9 a.m and 9 p.m.