Raleigh, N.C. — The safety of amusement rides at the 143rd NC State Fair will once again be a top priority for state and local law enforcement officials, N.C. Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler said Thursday morning.
Dozens of inspectors were at the fairgrounds Thursday morning to inspect 105 rides, and state Highway Patrol officials said they would be prepared to handle the massive crowds expected to turn out for the opening weekend.
Labor Commissioner Cherie Berry said there were no accidents reported on rides in 2011 and said her team of inspectors worked hard throughout the last week to ensure safety again this year.
As of noon, 75 rides were certified by inspectors, and by early afternoon, another 15 to 20 were expected to go online. By the time gates open at 3 p.m., all of the rides were expected to be approved for use.
"We have the best ride inspection program in the country," she said. "We inspect rides to 100 percent of manufacturer's specifications. We have confidence that you can put your grandchildren and children on these rides."
North Carolina and Georgia are the only states that require amusement rides to be 100 percent compliant with manufacturer's specifications. Crews crawled all over them in the days and hours before the fair opened, checking for missing pins and bolts.
Wake County health inspectors checked every food vendor at the State Fair for any food safety violations, and Sheriff Donnie Harrison said his deputies inspected midway games to ensure they were on the up and up.
Troxler also mentioned the addition of extra hand-washing stations, something officials hope will keep people from getting sick.
"Wash your hands, wash your hands, wash your hands," he said. "It will go a long way toward a great experience at the fair," Troxler said.