Restoration of historical carousel under way at Schnepf Farms


Dan Keys works on a wooden horse on the 1912 Parker carousel on Sept. 26 at Schnepf Farms. (Independent Newspapers/Arianna Grainey)


Schnepf Farms is in the process of restoring the iconic carousel on its property at 24610 S. Rittenhouse Road in Queen Creek.

“I am redoing that whole carousel,” Carrie Schnepf said. “It’s an amazing thing because it’s a piece of art.”

The carousel, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, was the second ride the farm purchased, Mrs. Schnepf said.

“We purchased it from a farmer in Minnesota and took it apart piece by piece from the loft of a two-story barn,” she said.

The carousel is a 1912 Parker, Mrs. Schnepf said.

“With the wooden horses,” she said. “There is still one of the wooden horses over there.”

“It’s a lot of fun,” she said. “It’s a great memory-maker for so many people.”

Dan Keys is doing the restoration work for the Schnepf family.

“I’ve been working on it since the Schnepfs brought it here in 1999,” he said. “We’re just making the last-minute changes to the horses.”

Mr. Keys worked with the Schnepfs on the original build.

“We went from the ground up on this,” he said. “(It took) several months (to build originally). I want to say three or four months. Each piece had been marked when it was made.”


Restorer Dan Keys said the carousel is the heart of any park. “It’s made to overwhelm the senses with the movement and the colors,” he said of the attraction at Schnepf Farms in Queen Creek. (Independent Newspapers/Arianna Grainey)


Having worked with the musical attraction for nearly 20 years, Mr. Keys has developed a bond with the carousel.

“They almost feel like they are yours,” he said. “You’re a part of them after so many years.”

This time, he will be working on the farm about 12-13 days.

“The mechanical stuff is always sound. It never needs anything. They built it good back then,” Mr. Keys said. “We check the wood pieces and we repaint and refurnish it.”

Mr. Keys has restored one of the original wood horses three or four times.

“You get to know the horses. It still has the glass eyes,” he said. “It’s really hard to explain. It’s a labor of love is what it is.”
Standing near the carousel, one can feel the history, Mr. Keys said.

“Think about it — In 1930, some mom and dad put their kids on the horse and rode around. How many kids have been on it? Who knows?” he said. “You think about that and it’s amazing.”

Mr. Keys said the carousel is the heart of any park.

“It’s made to overwhelm the senses with the movement and the colors,” he said. “The darker colors inside with the lighter horses and the pastel on the saddles will create a rhythmic motion with the music. It’s made to stimulate all the senses.”

Mr. Keys said the hardest part this restoration is that —due to his work — the carousel must be closed, but the kids visiting Schnepf Farms still want to ride it.

“When the little kids stand outside the gate and they can’t come in and they’re sad,” he said. “But I tell them the story of the carousel and they like that.”

The carousel will be open tomorrow in time for the opening day of the Pumpkin and Chili Festival. The cost to ride the carousel is included in the price of admission.

News Services Assistant Arianna Grainey can be reached at 623-445-2717, via e-mail at or on twitter at ariannagrainey

You are encouraged to leave relevant comments but engaging in personal attacks, threats, online bullying or commercial spam will not be allowed. All comments should remain within the bounds of fair play and civility. (You can disagree with others courteously, without being disagreeable.) Feel free to express yourself but keep an open mind toward finding value in what others say. To report abuse or spam, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box.

Facebook Comment