The Tennessee Valley Fair is back in town, and will draw thousands to Chilhowee Park over the next 10 days. But with the specter of two high-profile accidents on rides at fairs across the state hanging over it, organizers are stepping up their inspections to reassure attendees.
Jonathan Brooks and his company, Wagner Consulting, have been on-site and inspecting rides since Monday. The rides, which are operated by Wade Shows, are first inspected by the company. Then, Brooks and his team is double-checking their work.
“We have to make sure all the pins, keys and clips are in place,” said Brooks. “Make sure the safety cable is in place and there are no rough edges.”
“We’re going to put people in these and spin them around and around,” he said. “And we want to make sure everyone that comes out to the Tennessee Valley Fair understands that we’re doing everything we possibly can in our power to make sure everything is safe for them to come out and enjoy the fair.”
This summer has seen several fair accidents with injuries across Tennessee. In August, 3 girls fell from a Greene County Fair Ferris wheel, operated by Family Attractions Amusements, out of Valdosta, Georgia. One of those children spent days in the hospital. Investigators are chalking the fall up to a ‘mechanical failure.’
Earlier this week, eight people were taken to the hospital after a ride malfunction on the ‘Moonraker’ rider in Memphis.
“People are really concerned about fair rides and we understand that,” said Sarah Carson, Director of Marketing for the Tennessee Valley Fair.
She also noted Wade Shows’ clear safety record.
“You know our families are on these rides, our children are out here, so safety is absolutely top of mind,” she said.
So Brooks and his team continue their work, making sure every ride is safe and ready for the fair.
“If it’s not good, we don’t allow it to operate till it’s good,” he said. “I got asked earlier which one is the most dangerous, and there are no dangerous rides because if there were any dangerous rides we wouldn’t allow them to operate.”
The fair opens Friday evening, and runs through Sunday, Sept. 18.
(© 2016 WBIR)