Sophie Bolich

Safety Inspectors Check State Fair Rides

WI DSPS inspectors conduct final safety tests on more than 40 rides featured at the fair.

By - Aug 1st, 2022 04:25 pm

Shari Black and Dan Hereth shadowed ride inspectors at the Wisconsin State Fair Monday. Photo taken August 1, 2022 by Sophie Bolich.

It’s hard to be serious when your job involves climbing on a giant, dog-shaped roller coaster. But members of the Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services (DSPS) team were all business Monday morning as they inspected rides at the Wisconsin State Fair.

The fair is starting to take shape–food stands are in position, straw bales are stacked near the barns and truckloads of stuffed animals are being unloaded. In SpinCity, where the majority of the fair’s rides are located, inspectors made their way through a variety of rides including the Puppy Express, Hog-Rally and LadyBugs.

Incoming DSPS Deputy Secretary Dan Hereth and State Fair Executive Director Shari Black shadowed the team as they worked through a “long checklist” of safety tests on each of the fair’s more than 40 rides.

The team has been working diligently since Saturday to ensure that all the rides are safe and ready for operation come the beginning of the fair on Thursday, Black said.

“I’m here to bring attention to safety,” said Hereth, who attends the fair with his family each year. “If these rides weren’t safe, I wouldn’t want my kids riding them. And that’s how the whole team treats the process.”

In the days leading up to the fair, inspectors check each ride, looking out for sharp objects, potential pinch points and rust or corrosion. Seatbelt and safety harness effectiveness, gearboxes, lubrication, cotter pin placement, entry and exit gates and step height are also considered.

For the duration of the fair, six DSPS members will be on-site each day to conduct daily checks and take care of issues as they arise. Members of a third-party safety agency also conduct daily checks.

“As little things come up, you want to make sure they’re immediately corrected,” Hereth said. “Over last several years in particular, [the fair] has been exceedingly safe, very few issues. When things come up, they get quick attention because they run a tight ship here,” he said.

The fair independently chooses its operators, said Black, which “allows us to pick all of our rides ourselves, so we always get the most sought-after ride operators in the United States,” she said.

Aside from when they are assembled for events, the rides are kept inside most of the year, she added, and operators maintain detailed maintenance records.

The fair, whose official address is 640 S. 84th St., begins Thursday, Aug. 4 and ends Sunday, Aug. 14. For more information, visit the Wisconsin State Fair website.


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