HILLIARD, Ohio (WCMH) – In many ways, the 104th Franklin County Fair will look much like it did prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. But as the fairgrounds welcome back full-capacity crowds, vendors and entertainment, the 2021 fair also ushers in a new era of amusement ride safety.
“That’s the biggest change this year is just that emphasis on fatigue and corrosion and making sure the rides are as safe as they possibly can be,” said David Miran, the Chief of the Ohio Department of Agriculture’s Division of Amusement Ride Safety.
The changes come from Tyler’s Law. The measure, which took effect in late 2020, is named for Tyler Jarrell. The 18 year old died on a malfunctioning ride in 2017 and his mother advocated for more rigorous safety inspections and accountability for ride manufacturers.
Before the midway opened Monday, an ODA inspector conducted supplemental checks on many of the rides. Miran explained the same worker did an extensive inspection on all of the rides several days before the fair.
“The amusement rides here in the state of Ohio are very safe,” Miran said. “We have one of the most robust inspection protocols in the country. And a lot of other states look to Ohio as a model for how inspections are being done.”
Fair Board President Gary Fellure said in addition to procedures now required by Tyler’s Law, the fair also partners with a company with a proven safety track record.
He said, “Our ride company is second to none. They’re one of the best in the state. We rely on them and the state inspector will be here to inspect our rides.”
Fellure said the ride inspections come on top of other new health and safety precautions rolling out at the fair in 2021. High-touch areas will be cleaned more frequently and hand sanitizer stations will be placed throughout the fairgrounds.
“People are looking for that outside venue to go to and we’ve got that opportunity,” he added.
Organizers hope many of the new safety procedures offer visitors peace of mind, but also hope people return to the fair to see its traditional attractions.
“I am extremely excited to see the public come in, have some fair food, ride some rides,” said Brooke Fleshman, the 2020 Fair Queen.
The Franklin County Fair is open at 9 a.m Monday – Sunday. It closes at 7 p.m. Sunday evening.
Find a full list of events and attractions by clicking here.