Tennessee State Fair operators ensure safety of rides, security as event opens

Posted at 7:24 PM, Aug 18, 2022

LEBANON, Tenn. (WTVF) — It’s that time of year for funnel cakes, corn dogs and fun.

Thursday was the first night of the Wilson County-Tennessee State fair.

But besides all the fun, it has to be safe.

Before the gates open, fair officials have to make sure every ride runs smoothly, and that every fair-goer is going to have a safe experience.

“We pride ourselves on having a safe fair. We have a large presence so Wilson County Sheriff's officers patrolled inside the fairgrounds. We also have a large group of Lebanon policemen department, patrol the parking lot,” said Johnnie Webb who’s in charge of the fair’s safety, security and risk management.

This will be the first year this fair will have metal detectors.

“It's something that we wish we didn't have to do. But in today's world, you just got to take extra precautions. All your big fairs across the country are doing it, and so we're fortunate that we're able to do it now," Webb said.

Metal detectors will be at every entry gate, so clear bags are encouraged but not required.

Safety is also important for the rides.

“We’re inspecting the rides every single day before we open and make sure we're safe before we open to the public,” said Ricky Reithoffer with Reithoffer Shows.

There are about 60 rides this year at the fair, and they all have gone through and will continue to go through rigorous safety inspections.

Those inspections are done by a third party with the state, the ride company, and the crews operating the rides.

“Once it comes time to open to the public, we have a ride-specific inspection sheet on every ride out here, and our crew goes out and does their own inspection every single morning on each individual ride to make sure that they're ready for the public make sure nothing was tampered with and the night before,” said Reithoffer.

There are also checklists and signage in front of every ride to let riders know height requirements.

Another safety tool for parents is at every gate. There is an opportunity to take your child’s photo.

This picture can help law enforcement if your child gets lost by providing an accurate description of your child.