SC Fair officials say rides are diligently inspected, safety top priority at this year's event

SC Fair officials say rides are diligently inspected, safety top priority at this year's event

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Officials with the South Carolina State Fair say they have a long history of ride safety and will have additional ride inspections in light of the fatal incident at the Ohio State Fair earlier this summer.

The SC State Fair says that the Fireball ride involved in the Ohio incident that killed one and injured several others on July 26 did not belong to North American Midway Entertainment.

"The safety of our fair patrons has remained a priority, and we will continue to take every step necessary to ensure the well-being of our visitors," State Fair manager Gary Goodman said.

Ride inspectors say many parts of each amusement have to be checked and re-checked before it's cleared to run.

"We check your dog latches, all your seat fasteners to make sure all your seat fasteners are connected," said Robert Maxwell, who is a chief investigator with the state office of elevators and amusement rides. "We'll also check the inside framing of the ride - all of the foundations, the footings."

The state Department of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation oversees amusement rides and inspects fair rides before the opening of each fair.

In addition, the South Carolina State Fair contracts with third-party inspectors to independently certify the rides before opening and conducts daily inspections throughout the fair.

"Every ride is inspected by a special inspector whose licensed by our agency," said Jim Knight, who is the deputy director for the State Department of Labor Licensing and Regulation.

"We think it's very important that we go beyond the inspections required by the state," Goodman said. "It's something that we take very seriously."

Goodman added that security at the event will also be a top priority as several deputies with the Richland County Sheriff's Department will be working gates and patrolling the grounds.

"We do what we can on the inside and on our parameters of our grounds,” Goodman said, “We have horse patrols that go around, we have interior fencing so people can't pass things through...we have cameras everywhere."


North America Midway Entertainment features nearly 70 rides at the South Carolina State Fair. The Carnival contracted with Amusements of America to bring in several additional kiddie rides to last year's fair, but those rides were subject to the same stringent inspection requirements.

The State Fair announced last year that it had extended its partnership with North American Midway Entertainment for three years.

"We've had a great association with them for a long time," Goodman said.

We know accidents can happen. A North American Midway worker was killed while working a ride at the fair in 2008 and a 10-year-old was injured in 2006 when he fell from a ride when the safety bar didn't lock. That's why it's so important all these inspections are done.

Since 2006 seven people have been injured at the fair due to ride malfunctions and errors. State officials say in response to fatal accidents that have happened at other state fairs in the U.S., they've increased amusement inspections.

The 2017 S.C. State Fair will run Oct. 11-22 in Columbia.

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