Safety first – Inspectors check rides, food booths to protect fairgoers
By the time they go down your gullet, the corn dogs, funnel cakes, steak sandwiches and fried Twinkies consumed at the Nevada County Fair might as well be considered hazardous waste.
It’s up to Tracy Gidel ” the county’s program manager for consumer products and, yes, hazardous waste ” to ensure the 36 food booths at the fair are up to snuff before the hordes arrive next Wednesday.
Gidel and his staff will spend three days inspecting each food vendor, ensuring each booth has running water, proper food storage and temperatures, and are free of vermin and potentially hazardous food.
A 41-point list is used to determine the capability of a booth and its owners to serve and cook during the fair’s five-day run.
For many of the vendors ” especially the ones on Treat Street ” it’s a fairly simple process.
“The booths are all well-established,” Gidel said. “Your food vendors, for the most part, are pretty well-trained.”
Vendors new to the fair have been screened by the fair board, Gidel said. Both food and ride vendors at the Nevada County Fair are required to follow state guidelines for cleanliness and safety.
The state of California regulates all mobile amusement rides through the Amusement Rides Safety Law, enforced by California’s Occupational Safety Health Administration. The state requires rides to be inspected when new and at least once a year thereafter.
In addition, Nevada County Fair CEO Ed Scofield said the fair’s insurance carrier, the California Fair Services Authority, inspects the rides periodically throughout the course of the fair.
Tom Amberson, senior safety specialist for the California Fair Services Authority, said two inspectors are planning to visit the fair Monday to make mechanical inspections, test passenger restraints, and ensure all parts are in working order.
“We’re a second set of eyes and ears for the rides,” he said.
Butler Amusements Inc. from Fairfield, which provides the rides, also conducts daily inspections, according to a statement released by the company.
In addition, Butler Amusements is required to submit insurance records, including any past claims for damages caused by the rides, Scofield said.
“Portable rides in California are probably the safest in the nation,” Scofield said Friday during a media briefing at the fairgrounds.
Gidel said it’s likely the food will be, too.
“The fact that it’s the same vendors year after year makes it easier for us to do our jobs,” he said.
Asked what kind of fair food he liked best, Gidel admitted a hankering for corn dogs.
For more information about safety of the rides and food vendors at the Nevada County Fair, call the fair office at 273-6217, or the Department of Environmental Health at 265-1452.
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