Five Rides Shut Down At Ohio State Fair

Jul 25, 2019

The Ohio Department of Agriculture has shut down the Kissell's Military Base ride at the Ohio State Fair. Four more rides are currently not operate pending further inspection.

Agriculture Department director Dorothy Pelanda told WOSU on Thursday that Kissell's Military Base showed "visible corrosion" and will be permanently shut down. The other rides may be re-opened after minor repairs.

A spokeswoman for the department says no fairgoers rode the rides before the problems were spotted.

The closures were announced one day after Gov. Mike DeWine celebrated the fair's opening. The fair runs July 24-August 4.

Pelanda made an appearance at the fairgrounds two weeks ago to discuss ride safety. At the time, she asserted that if the condition of a ride's internal parts could not be verified as safe, she would shut the ride down.

There are a total of 78 amusement rides at the the Ohio State Fair. The SkyGlider ride, first used in 1969, had all its 95 chairs replaced this year. It was also given a new braking system and permanent fencing.

During the recent state budget debate, Pelanda successfully pushed for a funding increase for the Ride Safety Division, which will pay for more ride inspectors at the state fair and other festivities.

Shemika Briscoe and her 9-year-old son Trashawn in front of the closed State Fair ride.
Credit Paige Pfleger / WOSU

The closures come two years after a deadly incident after the 2017 Ohio State Fair, where one person died and five others were injured when a ride broke apart on opening day. A second rider died last year from complications from the accident. The Fire Ball’s malfunction was caused by "excessive corrosion," according to its manufacturer.

Disappointed Fairgoers

On Thursday afternoon, Shemika Briscoe and her 9-year-old son Trashawn ended up standing in front of the Kissell's Military Base ride at the fair. Briscoe says as a parent, it's disconcerting to see rides closed for safety concerns.

"They should have checked out all the rides before they even opened up the fair," Briscoe says. "It would have been safer for everyone to get on rides."

Trayshawn adds it’s disappointing for the kids, too.

"Kids are mad about that ride, they’d want to do that so bad and then they won’t be able to," he says.

Terry Schultz has been coming to the Ohio State Fair every year for the past 25 years. He says his grandchildren go on the amusement rides.

"I think it's a concern, obviously, that rides shut down again," Schultz says. "But even the governor said he felt like things were safe when he was here yesterday, so that made me feel better."