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Remembering David Sherman

Kelsey Megard |
April 30, 2018

The Valleyfair team was saddened to hear of the passing of one of Valleyfair's founder, David Sherman. Throughout the last 41 years, Valleyfair has grown and changed but the original image that David Sherman had for the park remains, a place for Minnesota families to come together and have fun.

Valleyfair's cofounders, Walt Wittmer and David Sherman, were approached by Fred Pierce Jr. of Excelsior Amusement Park and Pierce asked them if they would be interested in building an amusement park in the Minneapolis area. Wittmer and Sherman, having just finished up project management for the IDS Center in Minneapolis, felt up to the challenge.

They put together their vision for Minnesota's Amusement Park and presented their business plan investors in New York City three times, but always received a rejection.

“We were so far into it at that time, we thought, heck, we can do it ourselves,” Wittmer told the Shakopee Valley News in 2001. The duo quit their jobs and decided to open Valleyfair.

In August of 1974, construction of Valleyfair began. When the park opened in 1976, it included extensive land development, rides, attractions, buildings, and landscaping. High Roller-the sole roller coaster-was the main attraction.

“It was the early 70s and here was an opportunity for business that communities would enjoy,” Sherman told Valleyfair in 2016, “It took us four years from concept to reality. As we toured around we knew that this was a smaller park and we wouldn’t have enough money to change themes, so we went for a turn of the century - family get together theme.”

The first two years of operation were successful. Wanting to capitalize on this success and continue with an accelerated expansion plan, Valleyfair’s management determined they needed additional investors.

Sherman's dream to bring joy to Twin Cities' families turned into a community landmark and rite of passage. When the park debuted in 1976, there were 900 seasonal employees and 63 full-time staff.  Today, there about 70 year-round employees. This season, about 1,600 seasonal employees will be hired.

"Dave Sherman started what has become a Minnesota tradition, "said, Brad Marcy, Valleyfair's General Manager, "Valleyfair is now a cornerstone of countless family memories for all Minnesotans because of his vision."