Safety at the Appalachian Fair: Rides inspected regularly and EMS on-scene at all times

Mackenzie Moore • Jun 23, 2018 at 12:16 AM

Every year, families from all over the Tri-Cities scramble to the Appalachian Fair in Gray to enjoy an evening filled with live music, carnival food and daring rides, like the Cyclops.

Just how safe are those rides?

A news release listed four warning signs that a family entertainment venue might have safety concerns. Author Tim Murphy is the CEO of Rebounderz Family Entertainment Centers, a trampoline park chain.

Murphy claimed the four reasons some family entertainment atmospheres — such as trampoline parks, amusement parks or fairs — might not be so safe after all included the following:

• Lack of proper management

• Lack of properly trained team members

• Improper equipment and standards

• Improper facility and safety standards

Phil Booher, manager of the Appalachian Fair, is confident that the fair’s rides are up-to-par with safety standards.

“We do our inspections through Drew Expositions,” Booher said. “They operate in six or seven states, and every time they move to a different place, they have to be inspected by a third-party inspector, so those rides are inspected all year long.”

In addition to routinely inspecting rides, Booher noted that throughout the fair, EMS responders remain on-scene.

“We always have an EMS out here,” Booher said. “We always do everything we can to ensure safety.”

Booher has been the manager of the Appalachian Fair for the past seven years and has yet to experience any accidents or safety issues pertaining to the park’s rides.

“Now, we have shut down rides due to small mechanical issues just as a precaution,” Booher said. “But we’ve never experienced any safety issues.”

In 2016, three girls were seriously injured at the Greene County Fair when a Ferris wheel gondola overturned, sending them tumbling 30 feet to the ground.

Inspectors found that worn-out rivets on the bottom of the gondola allowed a piece of trim to come loose and lodge in the frame of the wheel, causing the gondola to tip over.

The parents of two of the girls sued the fair operator and the ride manufacturer and designer in federal court.

After the accident, the Appalachian Fair brought in third-party inspectors to ensure the safety of its rides and equipment.

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