Wisconsin County Fair ride breaks down, raises concerns of safety at local fairs

(ABC 6 News) – Earlier in July, a roller coaster ride at a Wisconsin County Fair broke down and left riders hanging upside down for over three hours.

They were all eventually rescued without any severe injuries, but the incident raised concerns around the country and in southeast Minnesota about safety precautions at county fairs.

The Fillmore County Fair in Preston, has no amusement rides brought in, but they take all the needed precautions for the other festivities. From their rodeos, tractor pull and even bouncy houses, they make sure the good times aren’t ruined by more than bumps and bruises.

Doug Lind, had spent more than 30 years as a volunteer EMT in Rushford. Recently retired and now serving as the treasurer of the Fillmore County Fair, he’s seen a lot of injuries over the years. With how serious he and the other organizers of the fair take safety concerns, he can’t recall the last time a severe safety incident occurred there.

“For many, many years we’ve been fortunate, I’d say that it’s very close to zero,” said Lind. “We take precautions and for example our grand stand, people are required to stay in the stands as far as spectators and as far as the demo derby, all them cars are inspected and there are safety features to meet in order to participate. So all them things preparing wise make less incidents during the event.”

Events like the tractor pull and demolition car derby are action heavy and a place where one would expect injuries to happen. But with speed limits and kill switches ready at hand, the safety concerns have translated well for them too.

“So it kinda starts with track prep, making sure it’s a good, safe level track getting moisture in it,” said Josh Simon, tractor pull coordinator at the Fillmore County Fair. “Dust patrol, if you look around the track it’s well gated. And then we have people getting tractors ready ahead of the track making sure people aren’t moving, things aren’t in the way.”

And in case something does happen there is always equipment ready to go to battle for safety issues.

“We do have an AED on the ground that we can use in case we do need to use it. We haven’t used it so far, so that’s a good thing,” said Mike Fenske, Fillmore County Fair President.

With luck and proper precaution always working in favor of fair preparations in Fillmore County, that has brought optimism every year for safety around their biggest events.

“We work hard to make it a safe, family fun experience to come to our fair and so far we’ve been successful,” concluded Lind.