After the accident at the Ohio State Fair, officials in Pulaski County are reassuring visitors the rides at the New River Valley Fair are safe.
The rides are running this week at the New River Valley Fair, including the “Freak Out,” a ride similar to the one that malfunctioned in Ohio.
“You’re always going to have a little bit of nervousness getting on rides like this, but no more so than the normal anxiety of a ride,” said Serina Whisman, who had just gotten off of that ride.
Whisman said she didn’t feel unsafe. And officials agree there’s no reason to worry.
“I feel very safe,” said Anthony Akers, assistant county administrator for Pulaski County. “With knowing what’s gone into it, you feel very safe on the rides.”
Akers said he has been on many of the rides with his children. All of the rides are checked out by a certified ride inspector before the fair opens, he said. But county officials go the extra step, requiring every ride to be inspected every day by a second inspector, he added.
“They know what to look for,” Akers explained. “Every nut, bolt, everything – welds. Anything that goes into a ride or a moving part. It’s a thorough, a thorough inspection.”
To be extra safe, they have up to 30 first responders on-site in case of an emergency.
“Maybe a missing child, maybe a slight injury,” said Josh Tolbert, Pulaski County emergency management coordinator. “It’s hard to navigate through the crowd unless we have some type of on-site coordination.”
People we spoke with at the fair, especially longtime fairgoers, said they trust officials are working to keep them safe.
“It doesn’t scare me,” said Brittany Collins, who was attending the fair. “I know that they take these rides apart and put them back together all the time, and I would hope that when they put them together that they’re doing their 10-point inspection every single time.”
Only a few minor issues were found before the fair opened, Akers said, but they were all easily fixed. Officials will continue to run daily ride inspections, he added.