Festival rides inspected frequently

Published 10:25 pm Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Thousands of festivalgoers will ride carnival rides at the Peanut Festival during the next four days, but few will give much thought to the safety of those rides.

Fortunately for them, city inspectors and the carnival company think about the safety of the rides all year long.

Peanut Fest 2017 Chairman Jody Cadwell, who also owns National Event Management and works with midway operators all year long, said the industry has changed from the old days.

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“We’re a highly regulated industry both by our insurance companies and manufacturers and national associations that provide the training,” Cadwell said.

The few unfortunate events that do happen on carnival rides typically get a large amount of media attention, Cadwell noted. They allow television stations to include colorful visuals of rides and often pander to some of humans’ worst fears, including fear of heights.

But actual incidents are fairly few and far between. Most recently, this July, one person died and seven others were injured at the Ohio State fair when the Fire Ball ride collapsed. Officials later said the accident was caused by corrosion.

“That was such an unfortunate incident,” Cadwell said. “We do everything within our power to accomplish keeping these things from happening, and they don’t happen very often at all.”

The carnivals travel with inspectors, certified welders and electricians that are committed to making sure the rides are safe. “They’re professionals in our industry,” Cadwell said.

Some rides also undergo periodic non-destructive testing that includes components like dye and X-rays to get a look at the unseen components of the ride, Cadwell said.

In addition, city inspectors come out and inspect the rides from the moment they arrive to when they’re finished setting up.

“They don’t just do it when they’re up,” Cadwell said. “They’re with us throughout the process.”

On Wednesday morning, more than 24 hours before Peanut Fest was set to open, three city vehicles from the Department of Planning and Community Development were at the site, with inspectors checking each and every ride. The inspectors have to be specially certified to inspect amusement rides.

“Each ride is different,” said Stanley Skinner, assistant director of community development.

Skinner said the inspectors check the joints, connections, pins, lap bars and other aspects of the ride.

“It all depends on how complicated the ride is,” Skinner said. “The kiddie rides are different from the roller coasters.”

The carnival is not allowed to operate a ride with people in it until it has passed the city inspection.

“Once we finish inspecting and we put a sticker on it, we’re done with it unless there’s a problem,” Skinner said. If a problem does occur, the inspector revisits the ride to determine whether it can be repaired or if it needs to be taken out of service.

“We’re not going to release a ride unless we’re absolutely sure that it’s safe,” he said. “We don’t rest until the Peanut Fest is over.”