Butler County Fair redoubles safety efforts after state fair death

Posted at 5:18 PM, Jul 27, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-28 05:24:50-04

HAMILTON, Ohio -- The fatal accident at the Ohio State Fair Wednesday has motivated people at the Butler County Fair in Hamilton to redouble their efforts to make sure their rides are safe.

Robbyn Abbitt and Joann Moeller brought seven girls to the county fair Thursday. They knew about the Columbis accident, but said they've never had a problem in the years they've been coming to Hamilton for the local fair.

"You have to trust the people who are doing the inspections and running the rides, but then you have to trust your own instincts, and if my instincts say we're not doing something, we're not doing it," Abbitt said.

Triple Threat Shows of Harrison has more than a dozen rides at the county fair. The Ohio Department of Agriculture inspected them when they were set up.

Doug Turner, the president of the Butler County Agricultural Board, has the paperwork to prove the rides passed with flying colors.

"[Inspectors] go over and above," he said. "That gives all of us a peace of mind. They are very strict, they are very particular."

Triple Threat is managed by Russell Clements, whose family has been in the rides business since 1932.

"Safety is number one," he said. "My day starts off with a speech to my employees about safety. Safety is number one for us. We are very particular about it."

The company's employees inspect each ride from the ground up daily.

"You check your pins, your lap bars, your seating, your bolts, your lighting, electrical plus, and you look for any type of exposure," Clements said.

Testing includes running each ride while it's empty. That impressed parents like Sam Fox of New Miami.

"We did get to see the rides being run without people being on them, and so it did make me feel a little bit more comfortable as far as putting my children on the rides," Fox said.

Clements and Turner both said the rides are clean, well-maintained and a showpiece of the fair.

"In the time I've been the manager of this company, I've never had a ride that has not been allowed to open," Clements said.

The only thing that might shut down the county fair's rides now is rain. But there are other things going on, including a tractor pull Thursday night and a demolition derby Friday night.