North Carolina State Fair

Officials: State Fair rides safe, games winnable

Posted October 13, 2011 3:43 p.m. EDT
Updated October 14, 2011 6:52 a.m. EDT

— Before the annual North Carolina State Fair kicked off Thursday afternoon, state officials and local law enforcement conducted a thorough inspection of the fairgrounds and declared everything good to go.

Labor Commissioner Cherie Berry proclaimed her team that checked all 109 midway rides "the best ride inspection program in the entire country" and then proceeded to take a spin on the Ferris wheel as a show of confidence.

"If my guys feel like those rides aren't ready for their children and grandchildren to enjoy, they won't put the sticker on them," Berry said.

Ninety-two of the rides passed inspection, and inspectors planned to take another look at the other 17 before the fair's official opening Friday morning.

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.

Operators also agreed this year to stop each ride three times a day during the fair to perform their own inspections on top of the work done by state inspectors in advance.

"My grandkids will be on these rides, and I feel confident that they are going to be as safe as they can possibly be," Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler said.

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.

"We want to make sure that the game is winnable, and I can tell you folks, they're winnable," Harrison said.

More than 1 million people attended the 2010 State Fair, and officials are expecting similarly large crowds this year.

"Know that the (Highway Patrol) troopers are out there directing traffic and (Raleigh police officers are) supporting in every way that we can, but we need you to be patient," Raleigh Police Chief Harry Dolan advised fairgoers.

"If I were going to handpick people to be on my team to protect your family and mine, these are the people that would be here," said Joel Keith, chief of police for the state Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.