Published: Thursday, July 27, 2017
Harford Farm Fair amusement rides undergo rigorous inspections, operator says

Harford Farm Fair amusement rides undergo rigorous inspections, operator says

David AndersonContact Reporter
The Aegis

An amusement ride accident, such as the one at the Ohio State Fair Wednesday that left one person dead and seven more injured, is "certainly every event's nightmare," according to a Harford County Farm Fair official.

The Harford fair, which is in its 30th year, has its own midway with carnival rides and games, although no rides are as intense as the Fire Ball ride that malfunctioned at the Ohio fair. Regardless, the Harford fair rides still undergo rigorous state and county inspections, Aimee O'Neill, co-chair of the Farm Fair board, said. "Our hearts ache for the people who were affected, and our prayers are with them," she said Thursday afternoon.  "Always, always one of the top topics of discussion is public safety," O'Neill said. The Fire Ball had undergone, and passed, several inspections before it broke apart while in use, according to Ohio officials.

"What happened out there, we're not sure — it could have been anything," said Patrick Imes, owner of Oscar's Amusements Inc., the Douglassville, Pa.-based company providing the rides at the Harford fair this year.  This year is the fifth for carnival rides at the farm fair, O'Neill said. Most of the rides are for children and families, such as bumper cars, as well as a Ferris wheel and the Double Shock. The Double Shock, with its dual rows of seats that rotate in a circle, is the most intense ride at the fair, and it has been popular with fairgoers.

"It's a family-oriented carnival," he said. He said state inspectors check the rides weekly, and they are inspected daily by ride operators and owners. "Everybody's inspecting as much as they can," Imes said.  O'Neill said state inspectors, as well as those with the county's Department of Inspections, Licenses and Permits, inspect the rides. An electrician and mechanics are also on hand if there are any issues with the rides, she said. "We all are keenly aware of our responsibility to the public . . . it is a constant vigilance that must be maintained," O'Neill said. She stressed that same rigor is applied to all other attractions at the fair.

The Amusement Safety Inspection Program, which is headquartered in Baltimore and is part of the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing & Regulation, is the agency responsible for the safety of temporary and permanent rides and other attractions at amusement parks, carnivals and fairs statewide, according to its website. "Our mission is to prevent injuries, protect property, and save lives of individuals using amusement attractions in the State through an on-site competent and professional inspection," according to the website.

Harford County fair organizers incorporated carnival rides into the event because of requests from the public, as well as "adding to our revenue stream," O'Neill said. She said the fair has an annual budget of about $300,000, and about a third of the revenue comes from paid admissions. She said the fair has "basic costs," such as transportation, electricity, portable toilets and tents, that it must cover every year.

Providers of those services work with fair officials to give discounted rates, but "we still have to pay a significant amount of money for those base aspects of the fair," O'Neill said.

Oscars Amusements
180 Amity Park Road
Douglassville, PA  19518

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