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Officials: Most Rides Won't Be Ready By State Fair's Opening

Posted October 13, 2005

— North Carolina's commissioner of labor said Thursday that she thinks only about 50 percent of the rides at the North Carolina State Fair will be available to fairgoers when the fair opens Friday.

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  • Commissioner of Labor Cherie Berry said during a morning news conference that only 23 of the 111 rides at the fair have passed the state's standards for inspections. By 2 p.m., the Department of Labor said about 40 of the rides had been cleared

    Commissioner of Agriculture Steve Troxler said even though the rides are not yet certified, it does not mean they are dangerous. Typically, the state fair opens with only 90 to 95 percent of the rides passing inspection. The remaining rides pass inspection during the fair.

    Inspectors will work until they sign off on all the rides, Troxler said, but he was unsure how long it would take for all of them to be operating.

    "I don't think there's any way to predict how many (rides) will exactly be open on (Friday) because I'm sure some of the stuff is minor that they are working on," Troxler said. "But I can assure you that my department and the labor department will be working around the clock, if necessary, to get these rides open."

    Some of the safety violations were minor, such as an electrical cord not being properly covered on a walkway. But there were also some major structural problems, such as some of the rides not being welded together by certified workers.

    In past years, rides passing safety inspection have not been a problem. Elevator and Amusement Device Bureau Chief Jonathan Brooks said the number of certified rides is very low because this is the first year Wade Shows, the company providing this year's Midway, has operated in North Carolina.

    "(Wade Shows) probably (isn't) familiar with the stringent rules," Troxler said. "Some of the rides could open in other states, but not North Carolina. We're going to make sure these rides are safe."

    Unlike other states, North Carolina requires 100 percent compliance with safety standards for a ride to pass inspection, officials said. For example, even if one seat on a ride did not meet the safety standards, it would have to be fixed before the ride could be opened.

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    Ken Smith

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