MEDINA COUNTY, Ohio — It’s officially reached county fair season in Northeast Ohio, but with all the fun comes some new rules for your safety, including Tyler’s Law.
Ohio created in the law after the death of Tyler Jerrell in 2017 after being thrown from a ride at the Ohio State Fair. The law took effect back in November, which established new requirements for amusement rides. Now, Ohio is now in line with standards from the American Society for Testing and Materials. Ride owners are required to share information about how rides are stored and used outside of Ohio. There are also new minimums for the number of inspections and inspectors for each ride type, according to the state department of Agriculture (ODA).
Number inspection required for rides
According to ODA, low-intensity rides are required to be inspected once annually by one inspector and a second time annually during a supplement inspection. These can be conducted at any time throughout the year.
Intermediate intensity rides are inspected twice annually by two inspectors. These rides also undergo one supplemental inspection. Large amusement rides like roller coasters operate under these same requirements.
County fairs talk safety
The Medina County faced a lot of turmoil last year after it was canceled following Covid-19 state guidelines. Though, the fair’s 4H club events were able to go on.
Medina county fair typically brings in about 100,000 visitors each year.
“It’s the event of the summer in the county,” said Pam Oberholtzer, who is a Medina County Fair Director. “We fill all the hotels in the area of course the restaurants do very well and the city supports us so well with all kinds of activities so there was definitely a void last year.”
This year, the fair is back with the theme “better than ever.”
Oberholtzer says her team waited until June to really get the ball rolling on planning in order to avoid last-minute health changes by state and to gauge attendance, which put them behind on ticket sales. Still, with county and federal grant money, Oberholtzer says they were able to purchase and install touchless hand dryers, faucets and other accessories for public restrooms. In an effort to minimize germs, she says crews will spraying and disinfecting high traffic areas with staff on board for constant cleaning. Hand sanitizer stations will also be available.
As far as the rides, Oberholtzer says theirs are properly inspected, once again following state protocols.
“We work with Base Amusement who travel to many fairs and have had no problems whatsoever. So, like normal you know they just keep on top of the maintenance end of it and will just add you know the health and cleanliness.”
Oberholtzer added, “we would not open if we did not feel like we could do it safely.”
Families excited for fair season
Keeping her family close has always been Shanen Truitt’s top priority.
“We love to spend time together and do fun things,” she said.
She says she pulls off the tough task every year with a trip to the fair, a tradition that dates back decades to her home state of Delaware.
“When I was younger, we used to sleep there for a couple of days because my mom would show our horses. It was great. The first day was free to get,” she explained. “I look back it was amazing you know it was just amazing memories.”
But those memories, family tradition and time together ended as COVID-19 shutdowns and restrictions settled in last year.
“It did suck. It was hard to find things to do and it was hard for the kids to understand because it’s outside why we couldn’t do those things.”
Truitt, who is now raising her kids in Lakewood, says she’s relived fairs are back, especially the Medina County Fair, as she gets to bring her family back together once again
“It makes me feel good as a mom like there are some things that I have to force them to go to and this is just not one of them,” she said.
How to self-report fair ride issues
ODA’s Division of Amusement Ride Safety & Fairs recommends before you hop on a ride make sure it has a permit decal. You can also file for inspection and compliance certifications through an open records request.
But if you have or want to file any complaints, click here.