WARSAW — Everyone loves to visit the county fair. Greg Steffe, Warsaw, is no different.
He loves fairs. But he doesn’t just attend area fairs, he has his own fair “Lake City Shows.” Each piece was either built from a kit and modified, or built from scratch.
During the past 25 years, he has created a 1/87th HO model fair in a current figuration measuring 8 feet by 7 feet.
You can find a working double Ferris wheel, the Giant Wheel, Tilt A Whirl, Music Express, Freak Out, Sea Dragon, Scrambler, Break Dancing, Super Slide, Anti Gravity, Ravitron, Kamikaze and many more rides, including bumper cars and all kinds of kiddie rides.
Just like any county fair you’ll find livestock barns filled with animals, tractor displays, food vendor trailers and the Lions Club food stand, a fair office, midway office, an FFA petting farm, a grandstand to watch the demolition derby, horse arena and plenty more.
“I loved the fair when I was a kid,” he said, noting he found IHC had come out with three kits and he bought one. “I liked it and bought the others.”
Looking closely at Steffe’s fair, rides or buildings resemble those seen at local fairs. The Giant Wheel is a replica of the Ferris wheel at the Elkhart County Fair as is one of the livestock barns. The Beef Barn was modeled after the one at the Kosciusko County Fair, as are several of the food stands and the bingo stand. He even has his favorite food stand “Hot Wisconsin Cheese” detailed just like the real thing.
Steffe spent 21 years volunteering at the Kosciusko County Fair and seven years on the fair board. Through the years, he became friends with Jeff Pugh of Pugh Shows, and Danny Huston with North American Midway Entertainment, just to name two. From these owners he learned more about the rides and was able to get measurements for the rides to make his models more authentic.
Steffe’s creations are all a labor of love, with a lot of patience thrown in. Creating just one ride could take “if I’m diligent two to three months,” Steffe said, adding he has also hand painted more than 1,500 figurines of people who can be found on rides, in the grandstands or milling around the fair.
It is rare Steffe has the fair set up, as each piece is intricate and the slightest bump or breeze could break a piece. It also takes four to five hours to completely set up. Most of the time, the pieces remain housed in six handmade storage cases.
“I’m pitching for a venue,” Steffe said, noting he’d like to display it at a first Friday event, or take it to one of the local fairs, if he can find a sponsor.