Each year, people across the country attend festivals and state fairs, many of which are held at local amusement parks. Patrons enjoy live music, food, and rides like Ferris wheels and roller coasters, and organizers consistently look for new ways to top the previous year’s event in terms of attractions, promotions, and entertainment. While these events are advertised as safe and family-friendly, troubling numbers continue to arise. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (USPC), nearly 31,000 people were injured by amusement park attractions (such as rides) in 2016 alone.
Injuries at fairs and festivals can be caused by a number of reasons. Ride malfunctions are a common source of injury. In August 2017, a ride malfunctioned at the Wilson County (TN) fair, leaving eight people stranded in mid-air. In July 2017, an 18-year old died at the Ohio State Fair due to the Fire Ball ride malfunctioning. In 2016, 14 people were reported to have suffered injuries at the Delta Fair & Music Festival in Memphis due to a problem with the Moonraker ride. While the ride was in use, the ride’s computer detected a problem and began its shutdown procedure. Meanwhile, the ride’s operator tried to stop the ride, releasing the safety restraint prematurely. The result was a halted ride with customers falling and dangling in mid-air. Eight people were taken to the hospital.
Fairs also bring the potential for chaos and fights. For example, parents may be inclined to drop off their kids for the day or night, leaving them unsupervised. In addition, patrons under the influence of alcohol could cause problems with other guests. As such, festivals must provide proper security measures to maintain peace and order. The festival or fair should also create a risk management plan and put the pieces in place to properly execute it.