Private security guards, Fresno police and ambulances, among other
safety precautions, are used by the Big Fresno Fair to increase the
safety of its visitors.
Sergio Robles / The Collegian
Officials at the Big Fresno Fair say they have safety at the top of their priority list this year.
The fair’s deputy manager Lauri King explained that everything at the Fresno fair is inspected multiple times by different agencies to ensure a safe experience.
This year, the fair’s carnival rides are maintained by Butler Amusement, Inc.
“Butler Amusement, Inc. inspects all their rides,” King said. “On top of that we hire our own contractor to inspect them as well. Before any ride can be opened, it has to be cleared and inspected by our carnival ride inspector.”
Butler Amusement, Inc. has also provided rides to the Stanislaus County Fair and the Kern County Fair.
So far the fair has gone without any injuries due to rides, King said.
“This is a brand-new carnival company for us,” King said. “They have an impeccable safety record.”
Not only are the rides monitored and inspected, the food is too.
“We make sure all food here meets all the health guidelines,” King said. “We work with the Fresno County Environmental Health Department. They inspect all of our food booths to make sure they meet all health department regulations.”
“They come out continually through all 12 days of the fair doing spot checks,” King added. “They also inspect our water quality and our hand washing program.” On top of food and ride safety, the fair also keeps an eye on patron safety by contracting to the Fresno Police Department for added security.
Lt. Tony Bennink is in charge of the police activities at the Big Fresno Fair and this is his second year as operations commander.
“We are really looking out for everything,” Bennink said. “Drunks, hostile or dangerous situations, even gang activity.”
So far this year, Bennink has only dealt with minor problems at the fair.
“We’ve had some fist fights, and a few ejections, but compared to the thousands of people that come in daily, it’s only a small percentage,” he said. “The fair is a very safe place for families to come.”
During the peak hours of the fair, there are around 68 officers patrolling the grounds, not including the Fresno County private security.
“Security is one of the No. 1 priorities of the Big Fresno Fair,” King said.
Special precautions are also taken in the animal areas of the fair. The livestock is always attended to and the horses are handled by experts, King said.
In March of last year, Angela Malos, a Fresno resident, was granted $2.15 million after getting E. coli poisoning from the petting zoo at the Big Fresno Fair in 2005. Several children were infected, but Malos had the most dramatic case.
“She’s fine mentally but she still has some medical issues with her kidneys. She has eyesight problems, she’s legally blind in one eye and she wears glasses. She has an aide in school, first grade. Constant aide because of the gate issues, she can’t control her body movements,” John Malos, Angela’s father, told ABC 30.
To prevent any health-related issues, American Ambulances are on duty at the fair as well, with two ambulances dedicated to fair patrons and one more ambulance dedicated to the horse track, King said.
“At any given time there are seven EMT paramedics out here,” she said.
Noor Hassan, a freshman at Fresno State, attended the fair. The civil engineering major said that she wasn’t afraid to go on any rides.
“I feel safe,” Hassan said. “I’ve been on three rides so far, and I plan to go on all of them.”
Hassan was skeptical about the fair food.
“Some of the food here I don’t like,” Hassan said. “I don’t feel it’s really clean or safe to eat. That’s why I brought my own food from home.”
King expects 550,000 guests over the course of the fair’s duration, which runs from Oct. 5 to the 16.