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Hoosierland turns 70

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LASTING: Much of Hoosierland Roller Rink has remained unchanged over the last 60 years. It opens its doors for another season on Saturday.
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MEMORIES: Photographsfrom Hoosierland's long history are displayed on the old roller rink's walls.
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HISTORY: Tracy Baber recently received a traveling case and pair of roller skates with wooden wheels from the 1950s that she plans on displaying somewhere inside of Hoosierland Roller Rink.
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20 YEARS: Tracy Baber will openHoosierland Roller Rink for its 60th season and her 20th season as owner.

By AARON KENNEDY - akennedy@ftimes.com

A fixture in Frankfort since first opening in 1949, Hoosierland Roller Rink will opens its doors for its 70th season Saturday at 1550 Izaak Walton Drive.

Each summer, Hoosierland shuts down from about mid-June until mid-September, and many local kids are ready to lace their skates up again.

Tracy Baber is entering her 20th season of managing and maintaining the old roller rink.

“We shut down for the summer in June because there is not air conditioning,” Baber said. “Then we always open up in September.

“The kids are super-excited,” Baber said. “When I am here painting and stuff, they pull up on their bikes and ask 'When are you opening? When are you opening?' They are really, really ready.

“They usually don't want me to shut down, and they ask me why,” Baber continued. “I try to explain that there is no air and it gets extremely hot. Usually the pool would open, and they would have that, but now they are under construction until 2021. But, I get excited for the kids.”

Baber says she worked at Frito Lay for 17 years before her husband "wanted her out of the factory," and she became just the third owner of Hoosierland Roller Rink.

“It was a good opportunity to run my own business, and 20 years later I am still here,” she said. “It is surreal. It is an accomplishment. I am glad that I still have it going,l and I think there are a lot of people in the community that are very glad that I still have it going.

“It is very important to me to keep it basically like it has always been,” Baber added. “It is kind of retro. You are going to walk in, and you go back in time. There are a few minor things that I think they used to do different. But, a lot of people come in and they will say 'Wow! I was here every weekend,' and I have seen generations of people over the 20 years. Or they will have a story about how 'my grandmother used to skate out here every weekend, and then I did, and now my kid does.'”

Baber says that she has received some community support through the years.

“That is very nice because it is a struggle sometimes,” Baber said. “But, it is very important that this stays as a skating rink, especially for a community that has loved this skating rink for so many years. The next people who come in, if I have anything to do with it, it is going to stay as a skating rink, be sold as a skating rink again.”

Hoosierland has an all-night skate each month and Baber usually hosts a New Year's Eve party for the kids.

“The kids absolutely love that,” Baber said. “New Year's Eve is mainly for adults, but the kids come out here, and we have a lot of fun. I enjoy it. We celebrate our own way, everybody is on the floor, and they just enjoy the new year here. They get food and pop with their ticket, and we give away prizes. That is probably one of the bigger things that we do.”

Hoosierland also hosts birthday parties and is rented out by various groups.

“That is one of the things that people like the most,” Baber said. “The kids like the Friday and Saturday nights, but as an adult they do like to come out and do a birthday party out here.

“Frito Lay was here last weekend, and we get a lot of churches from out of town and in town,” she added. “My church comes out and brings kids. We have youth groups that come at almost the same time every year and use it over and over.”

Starting again this Saturday, you can skate at Hoosierland Roller Rink for $4 from 1-4 p.m. and for $6 from 7-11 p.m. each Saturday, for $4 from 1-4 p.m. each Sunday and for $5 from 7-10 p.m. each Friday. Skate rental rates are $1 or $2 depending on whether you want standard or race skates.