DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – When the State Fair of Texas closes at the end of the season, one icon will remain.
The Texas Star ferris wheel looms on the horizon, year round, and one family keeps it running.
To escape the crowds on the ground at the State Fair of Texas, head into the sky.
“It’s very serene, and peaceful,” says Mary Talley.
There, 200-plus feet up in the air, Talley finds a moment to take in the sweeping Texas horizon.
“If I want to have a moment for downtime, I just get on the wheel, go to the top and sit up here for a minute,” she explains.
It’s a moment of zen experienced by thousands of visitors to the fair every year.
“It’s a part of the State Fair of Texas. Corn dogs, Big Tex and the Texas Star,” Talley says.
Talley says some people make the mistake of thinking the fair owns the Texas Star, the tallest traditional ferris wheel in North America, but it belongs to her family.
Her father brought it to Dallas in 1984.
“I think he wanted to do something that was trend-setting in the industry, so he got with a friend of his, they flew to Italy and found a ride manufacturer to build this for him,” she says.
It’s a family tradition, going on 35 years now. Talley’s father died in a car crash in 1990. She took over the business when her mom was ready to retire.
Today, Mary is the face of the operation. Her husband works behind the scenes keeping The Star in pristine condition. Her son-in-law operates the wheel.
“This is family legacy for my family. Something I want to pass along to my fifth generation. It’s important to keep it in the family” Talley explains.
Looking down from this view, she imagines her father doing the same, and feeling proud.
“Oh absolutely. He’s watching,” she says.
Talley’s family company, Talley Amusements, owns amusement rides beyond The Star.
They provide the midway for the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo, and other events across Texas and beyond.