As the Salem Fair prepares to open for its 30th year, crews are making sure the rides are safe to enjoy.
Many people say they are excited to hop on their favorite rides.
“I like the crazy rides that go incredibly fast,” said Hugo Crane.
But people like Crane will have to wait because Danny Abner gets the first ride.
“I ride a lot of the rides,” Abner said.
It’s part of Abner’s job as a state-licensed ride inspector. He makes sure every ride is moving smoothly, checking even the small parts.
“Since I’m older, I want to see if it’s going to hurt me,” Abner said. “And if it hurts me, we need to make changes.”
He said he has found nothing like that during setup. Any minor issues he found were easily fixed, he added.
As Abner watches and boards rides, he keeps records of his inspections.
“If you can keep the center of the ride on the ground, the sweep of the ride on the center, the seat on the sweep, and the people in the seat, you got a safe ride,” he explained.
Abner has been inspecting rides for more than 30 years. They have changed a lot in that time for the better, he said. With most rides computerized, many of them won’t run if something is wrong, he added.
“The Hydra is brand-new this year,” Abner said. “And if one of the gates – entrance and exit gates – is open, the ride won’t run.”
Once the fair opens, Abner said he will be there every day to monitor daily inspections.
“My dad owned a carnival,” he said. “He always was pretty strict about setting things up and tearing them down, and he did his own ride inspection. That was before it became a law in most states. I guess I learned a lot from him.”
The fair officially opens at 4 p.m. Wednesday. Abner said he will continue inspections all the way up to the moment the fair opens.