MEDINA — Rides opened Monday afternoon on schedule for the first day of the Medina County Fair, but not before they were examined by inspectors from Bates Amusements Inc. and the Ohio Department of Agriculture.
Many of the larger rides at the fair did not arrive until Monday morning and were transported from neighboring Summit County, where Bates had operated at that county fair until Sunday evening.
A Bates Amusements Inc. office employee said construction of the remainder of the rides here began Monday morning and continued throughout the afternoon. The company has a trailer that serves as an on-site customer service office.
“Rides are inspected shortly after being constructed,” Fair Board President Mike Gall said Monday afternoon.
Gall said not all rides had been assembled and inspected by the fair’s scheduled 1 p.m. opening. However, he added no rides would be open to the public until they were checked and approved by the Ohio Amusement Ride Safety Division in the afternoon.
Last Wednesday, a Fire Ball ride broke apart at the Ohio State Fair, leaving an 18-year-old man dead and seven injured.
In the aftermath, the Ohio Department of Agriculture released ride inspection documents produced by inspectors at Amusements of America and the agriculture department’s Amusement Ride Safety Division.
Those documents were dated July 26, the day of the incident, and certified that Fire Ball was safe to ride.
“A ride inspection ensures the ride is assembled, maintained and operated according to the manufacturer’s specifications,” said a statement released Sunday by the Amusement Ride Safety Division.
The statement outlined the Amusement Ride Safety Division’s inspection procedures:
- annual permit and initial inspection before operation;
- re-inspections and/or supplemental inspections performed at various times and locations across the state;
- observation as the ride is being assembled;
- static inspection, which is performed on the equipment when it is not running to assure the piece has been assembled correctly and that safety restraints are in good condition;
- operational inspection, which is performed while the rides are running to ensure the mechanical components work in accordance with the manufacturer’s specifications.
Bates has provided entertainment services to the Medina County Fair for 25 years. The company, based in Wintersville, did not have any rides at the Ohio State Fair, according to the Ohio Department of Agriculture.
On Friday, Bates released a statement reiterating its commitment to rider safety and outlining inspection practices.
After the ride malfunction at the Ohio State Fair, Gall said the tragedy’s proximity to the Medina County Fair could affect turnout this week.
“It’s a setback for everyone in the fair business,” he said.
The day after the incident in Columbus, Gall said the Medina Fair Board had “full trust” in its 25-year partnership with Bates.
Jim Dull, a Wadsworth resident and annual fairgoer, said each year he takes his four grandchildren to the Medina County Fair on opening day for the Demolition Derby.
“In the afternoon before the show, they each get $10 for rides and then we go over to the United Methodist restaurant for food,” Dull said.
After the tragedy in Columbus, Dull said his daughter expressed reservations about letting her children go on rides at the fair.
“At first she wasn’t so sure,” Dull said.
But they decided they felt it would be safe to allow their children on the rides.
“Bates has been around for years,” said Dull shortly after rides opened Monday. “And, anyway, this is probably the safest time to ride the rides because you know they’re doing three or four extra inspections on each of the rides.”
Messages may be left for Lucas Fortney at (330) 721-4065.
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