Local fair organizers focus on ride safety after Ohio incident

Local News

Local fair organizers are looking closer at the safety of some of their rides after one person died following an accident at one of the country’s largest state fairs. On Wednesday night, passengers were thrown into the air when the “Fire Ball” ride malfunctioned at the Ohio State Fair in Columbus.

The same company that operates that ride, Amusement of America, has rides at multiple fairs across New York this summer — the Ogdensburg Seaway Festival, Franklin County Fair, Washington County Fair, Columbia county fair, and Niagara County Peach Festival.

Although the “Fire Ball” ride is not at the Ontario County Fair, organizers and directors are making sure all ride safety measures are up to par.

“The state can come back and do another inspection and the owner will come through and do an inspection everyday when he returns before they start back up and he’ll do an inspection.” said Casey Kunes, president of Ontario County Fair.

Jennifer Santaro has been going to the Ontario County Fair for as long as she can remember. Her favorite part was the rides, but now, a mother of two young kids, her opinion has changed.

“I’m very aware, said parent Jennifer Santaro. “I didn’t think about that kind of stuff when I was younger. They’re getting older and it’s going to be coming up where they can ride rides in a few years. I definitely worry about it because you hear stories.”

After this deadly incident at the Ohio State Fair, Santaro believes these fair rides are not as safe as they could be.

“When they travel with these I think it makes me nervous that something could happen while I’m traveling with them and maybe they don’t know about it,” said Santaro. 

But others say they won’t let the Ohio State Fair’s tragedy won’t change their love for the rides at the fair.

“Stuff happens I guess and I haven’t been on one that’s had any problems here,” said fairgoer Corrine Brown. “They’re pretty safe here.”

The New York State Department of Labor and the owner of the rides will be making safety checks on the rides until the Ontario County Fair comes to a close on July 29.

The Department of Labor says it will be re-inspecting all rides managed by Amusement of America and all rides of a similar type owned by any company. It has also asked all companies operating the same ride to voluntarily shut them down while an investigation into the Ohio incident continues.

With the New York State Fair coming up in a few weeks, the Fair’s Acting Director Troy Wafner spoke out about ride safety concerns as well.

“People have to understand we work with the Department of Labor, we employ a third party ride inspector,” said Wafner. “The Midway employs a third party ride inspector. They go through them when the rides arrive, when they’re being put up, they go through parts and components, crawl around them, on them, under them.” 

There is no “Fire Ball” at the New York State Fair, and inspections and tests happen every day of the fair.

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