The carnival operators at the Coweta County Fair have taken an extra step this year to insure the safety of all the midway rides.
Dixieland Carnival Company has hired an independent, third-party inspector to inspect each ride before the fair opens. That inspection is in addition to the inspection by fair personnel when the rides are put up, and the inspection by the Georgia Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner’s Office.
There are also inspections by the Coweta County Fire Marshal and Coweta’s building inspectors, who make sure that electrical connections and generators are correct and that wires are properly covered on walkways to prevent falls.
There has been an increase in reports of accidents at carnivals around the country over the past year, including, most recently, a fatality at the Ohio State Fair in July.
“Everything we are doing is to minimize risk,” said Gary Welden, fair committee chairman for the Newnan Kiwanis Club, which puts on the annual fair. “We look at risk all the time.
“Safety is what we do at the fair,” Welden continued. If anyone sees anything that seems unsafe, it should be reported. “If you see it, you say something about it,” he said.
Each ride is washed, and then greased and inspected while it is being put together at the fairgrounds by staff of the midway operator, Dixieland Carnival Company, Welden said. The independent inspector was out Wednesday inspecting rides, and the inspector from the state will be out today. The Kiwanis Club requires everything to be set up and ready at least a day before the fair opens.
The state inspector lives in Coweta and brings his grandchildren to the fair every year and they ride the rides, Welden said. He spends two days doing the inspections, according to Welden.
The rides are also inspected every day, before the fair opens. And all rides are operated by workers with the carnival company who are experienced with those individual rides, Welden said.
“They know the machine, and if something goes wrong, they shut it down right then,” he said.
In the past, some local operators were hired for some of the simple kiddie rides, but that is no longer done. There are still some locals who work the game booths, Welden said.
The Newnan Kiwanis Club is a member of regional and national fair associations, and Welden said he receives emails weekly – and sometimes more often – about various goings on in the carnival industry. After the Ohio incident, the association sent out information about the official name of the ride that failed, the model number and the year it was manufactured. “If the operator we have has that type of equipment, we know to ask them what year it was made, to see if it was similar,” Welden said.
A ride similar to the “Fire Ball” that failed in Ohio has been at the Coweta County Fair, but it is not the same ride, Welden said.
Welden also emphasized that smoking and vaping are not allowed at the fair. People who are found to be smoking or vaping will be escorted off the property, he said.