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Fair Ride Inspections to Ensure Safety - Valley News Live - KVLY/KXJB - Fargo/Grand Forks

Fair Ride Inspections to Ensure Safety

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The rides, fair food and concerts are back once again as the Red River Valley Fair kicks off Tuesday.

Carnival workers and venders are putting in long hours to get everything ready, but how do you know the ride you are jumping on is safe? We looked into this.

Murphy Brothers Expositions is running the show. They are back for the fifth year in their five year contract.

Obviously one of the biggest things people think about when getting on these rides is safety. They want to know nothing is going to go wrong, and Murphy Brothers says that is also its main goal.

One of the carnival workers, Robert "Smokey" Benham has been manning the controls of carnival rides since 1950. Each day he makes sure his ride is working perfectly. "I check mine all through the day. I'll be looking, to see if something fell out," he says.

He takes pride in making sure there are no accidents aboard his ride, as do all of the carnival workers because it is not just North Dakota they run through.

"Then we head from here to Sioux Falls, the Sioux Empire Fair, through South Dakota to New Mexico, New Mexico State Fair, Missouri State Fair," says Ted Buzunis, Vice President of Public Relations with Murphy Brothers.

In our research, though, we discovered a few safety incidents reported to the Amusement Safety Organization from 2004 to 2011 with Murphy Brothers. There were 11 total incidents. Eight riders ended up with injuries.

Buzunis says the injuries were minor. "I've seen people bumped and bruised that kind of thing, but I've never seen anything real serious. No deaths or massive hospitalizations or trauma, he says."

Buzunis says Murphy Brothers is certified with the North Dakota State Inspection Board, has its own OSHA representative on site and has ride operators go through a daily checklist.

He says a lot of problems arise when riders do not pay attention, and with any equipment, things break. Buzunis says, "You try to maintain it. The last thing we wanna do is hurt anyone."

That is especially true for workers like Benham, because to him it becomes personal. "When that kid is on this ride, I figure that's just like my kid. I look out for that kid like it's mine, cause I don't wanna see no one get hurt," he says.

The rides have a hefty price tag. The Grand Carousel is tagged at $1.5 million. The Drop of Fear runs at a price $1 million. They are rides you can find at amusement parks.

The Fair Association does look into safety as well before negotiating contracts with carnival companies.

Since Murphy Brothers is in the final year of the contract, the Fair Association is working on a new one. After the fair ends the contract will be awarded to either Murphy Brothers again, or another company.

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