Relaxed rules help county fairs keep amusement rides


In Lane County they were considering dropping the amusement rides because of costs of inspections and insurance. But, since the state is offering some exemptions, that may change.

“Between the insurance taking most (money) of what we brought in, we weren’t going to have anything,” says Carrie Handy with the Lane County Amusement Association. “We’d try to do it one more year, and take up any reserves we did have. And once it was gone, we would basically have to shut everything down.”

Lane says several county fairs said they were looking at bringing in inspectors from as far away as Kansas City or Oklahoma. But non-profits now get an exemption.

With the electrocution of a 15-month-old girl at a carnival in Wichita last summer, state officials point out that the relaxed  rules do not apply to for-profit carnival owners.

Jordan Milholland with the Kansas Legislative Research Department says rides considered agri-tourism, like hay rides, are exempt in the new bill that passed in the House and Senate. He says the governor now is considering signing House Substitute for Senate Bill 307 into law.

If the governor signs it, non-profits will see exemptions to some of the inspection rules. And, the insurance requirements come down from between $1 million to $2 million, to the lower standard of $750-thousand to $1 million.

At the Sedgwick County Fair, the fair board members inspected the rides themselves last year.

“We are non-profit, so the rule changes sound like it will fit us,” says Marti Johnson, the Vice President of the Sedgwick County Fair. “And of course last year there was a lot of attention focused on the new regulations for carnivals and everybody was focused on safety and we certainly wanted our fairgoers to have a safe experience. We actually delayed the opening of our carnival by a half a day so we could do an extra inspection walk-through and just make sure everything was set up according to the rules.”

The new changes also apply to water slides. Water slide regulations included inspections for slides last year with new rules. This year, another change to the law includes smaller slides.

Milholland says any slide over 15 feet will require an attendant, like a lifeguard. But the smaller slides will not require a certified inspection. The certified inspections are still required for slides taller than 35 feet.

The rules go into effect July first.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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