Looking at safety of carnival rides after close call at Cherry Festival

Published: Jul. 9, 2021 at 10:37 PM EDT
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ELSIE, Mich. (WILX) - A harrowing moment at the Cherry Festival in Traverse City was caught on camera. A magic carpet ride began to rock back and forth as a group of people were on board, though a number of bystanders grabbed ahold of the railing to keep it from tipping over.

With many carnivals scheduled to take place this summer in the mid-Michigan area, News 10 decided to figure out what goes into making sure these rides are safe.

From trailer to operation, it only takes a few hours to set up these carnival rides. After seeing the footage from the national cherry festival in Traverse City, many parents like Erica Denovich are wondering how safe they really are.

“My husband has a huge fear of them,” Denovich said. “He doesn’t think that they… get maintained like they should. So, he stays on the ground while I take the chance.”

Becky Anderson’s family owns Anderson Midways, which is operating the Elsie Dairy Festival. She grew up in the carnival world starting as a popcorn server as a young girl. Now, she runs the business.

“I can’t say there’s no one to blame, but accidents happen,” Anderson said.

She says her employees are expected to constantly check the rides to make sure they function properly.

“We check every pin, every cotter key, every arm of it, every seat of it,” Anderson said. “It takes quite a while to check all of the equipment before we open it. We want everybody to be safe.”

According to Licensing And Regulatory Affairs (LARA) each carnival ride is inspected once a year. Because there were no carnival rides last year, all of those permits are being carried over to be inspected in 2021. Suzanne Thalen is Communications Director at LARA.

“We have over 1,100 carnival rides that need to be inspected, and we’ve inspected almost 600 of them so far this year,” Thalen said. “We only look at the equipment one time a year.”

Thalen says the state will inspect a ride at one location to make sure it’s safe. However, being that the rides get taken down and moved to another location it’s possible they could be setup incorrectly at the next stop.

“The equipment is always setup for the inspection. It could be setup and inspected in Cadillac, but then it’s picked up and moved to Traverse City for the Cherry Festival,” Thalen said. “We only inspect it in one place when it’s setup.”

According to Denovich, the thought of something going wrong isn’t enough to keep her from having fun.

Denovich said, “I fear those things are going to swing off. But, it’s a chance you take right? Everything’s got a risk. You know the risk so you either yay or nay, you know?”

If you’re looking for some carnival fun the Elsie Dairy Festival ends Saturday night, and the Eaton Rapids County Fair begins on Monday.

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