ST. PAUL — The Minnesota State Fair opened this week to excited crowds eager to get back after COVID concerns kept them away last year. But that excitement quickly turned to annoyance after fairgoers discovered several vendors had enacted budget cuts to make up that lost revenue, including the Towering Tollbooth that sits halfway down the Giant Slide.
“Look, this slide is abnormally large and I’m paying to maintain every foot of it,” said owner Kaylee Congdon. “The fact is, we’ve been undercharging for years by allowing riders to go all the way to the bottom on one ticket.”
Tollbooth Operator Scott Wallin is tasked with collecting the so-called Friction Fee from riders as they gracefully slam into the giant sponge arm extending across every lane of the iconic five-story attraction.
“You’ve already had a pretty fun ride down those first two-and-a-half stories,” said Wallin. “But if you don’t want to pay for the full slide sensation, then get off and climb down that rope ladder dangling above a bubbling vat of mini-doughnut grease.”
Plans are in place to add SlipperE-Z Pass Lanes for patrons who’d like to skip the tollbooth altogether, although Wallin said there are a few perks to paying the fee.
“For exact change, I’ll get you going again with a shove. Tip me and I’ll wipe the mustard off my hand.”
Brian Matuszak has been trying to make Duluth funny for 35 years now through the writing, directing, performing and producing of live sketch comedy revues, as well as scripted plays. His current theater company, Rubber Chicken Theater, will be celebrating their 15th birthday in 2023. He also wrote a weekly humor column for the Budgeteer News, creating nearly 400 columns over seven years. He can be found on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook (@rchickentheater). His interests include geocaching, time with family, and singing along loudly and proudly to Barry Manilow, not necessarily in that order.