BEREA, OH – Changes are coming to the Cuyahoga County Fair ahead of opening day.
Rides will now be inspected more often in order to prevent a deadly malfunction like the one at the Ohio State Fair in July.
“There’s a couple of rides that they’ll do hourly,” said Tim Fowler, the president of the Cuyahoga County Fair board. “So there may be some stoppage of those rides just to be safe and check some key points on a couple of the major rides.”
Sunday, inspections of the rides in Berea began and were expected to continue throughout the fair. Fair officials say inspectors will not give prior warnings about what times they will be doing the inspections.
The change comes amidst growing concern about the safety of fair rides. After a malfunction on the “Fireball” ride in Columbus killed a man and critically injured several others. the ride manufacturer, KMG International based in the Netherlands announced “excessive corrosion…led to the catastrophic failure of the ride during operation.”
“Some [rides] are more high risk, flying in the air and some are low risk,” said Carmi Kissel, President of Kissel Brothers Shows. “Everything is a risk in life. I believe our stuff is very safe. Everyone in our industry tries to make it safe.”
In 2016 a Kissel Brothers employee was seriously injured at the Cuyahoga County Fair while dismantling a bumper car ride. No fair-goers were on the ride at the time of the incident. According to the fair, the incident was not the result of a malfunction and the ride was declared safe.
A Fox 8 I-TEAM investigation discovered state inspectors often can’t tell how many rides fail inspection because they still use a paper based system instead of electronic to keep track of records.
The Cuyahoga County Fair saw smaller than expected crowds last year. Fowler estimates 115,000 people attended as opposed to the average 160,000. Based on patterns of surrounding fairs, Fowler remains optimistic this year will be different.
“We’ve been contacting the fairs that go on around us and the attendance has been up,” said Fowler. “So we’re very bullish that our attendance will also be up this year.”