County fair carnivals threatened by new state law

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For the past ten years carnival rides have been a part of the Kingman County Fair.

But when the fair opens Wednesday the carnival rides won't be operated.  

Kingman County Fair board member Tim Bergkamp said,  "A pretty easy decision but a hard decision."  

Easy, he says, because of the costs involved.  A difficult decision because of the disappointment there will be among fair goers who look forward to the rides.

The Kansas legislature this past session passed the "Kansas Amusement Ride Act."  It passed overwhelmingly.  

The bill was a reaction to the tragedy last August when ten year old Caleb Schwab was killed riding the world's tallest water slide at the Schlitterbahn Water Park in Kansas City.  The new slide was called "The Verruckt."  

The boy was the son of Republican state Rep. Scott Schwab, of Olathe.

The legislature passed a new law with stricter inspection requirements for water slides at community pools and for carnival rides.

Bergkamp said the new law would require the Kingman County Fair to add fencing around the rides costing between ten and 20-thousand dollars.  He said it would also require hiring an engineer to inspect and certify each ride.  Considering local fairs run only a few days at year, he said, it would be too costly.

Fellow board member Sandy Williams said she is concerned what this will mean to the fair's attendance. She said, "I have a feeling it might go down but I hope not." 

Bergkamp said fair attendance started increasing once carnival rides were added ten years ago. He said, "Each year it grew and got bigger and just one decision it's over with."  

Other fair boards across the state indicate this may be the last year for them to operate their carnivals for the same reason.

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