There's always something new at the State Fair Of Louisiana. This year, it's the carnival company.
Crabtree Amusements will be providing rides and there's already some pressure considering last year's tragic accident in which a 4-year old boy was critically injured on a ride. Authorities say Sheldon Lewis was pinned underneath a ride when another small child pushed the ride's start button.
Fair General Manager, Chris Giordano says the accident played a small role in the decision to go with another carnival company.
"There were some other slight issues. Nothing major, but we just felt like it was probably a good time to change carnivals and we do that from time to time anyway just to offer our customers a new look," said Giordano.
Carnival owner, Pat Crabtree, says there's nothing more important than making sure the rides are as safe as possible. He says this year, every ride from the giant ferris wheel to the kiddie coaster, will be checked and double checked daily.
Before the carnival even opens, an inspector with the State Fire Marshal's Office will conduct the first inspections. Crabtree says certified carnival inspectors with his company will be making checks throughout the day and Crabtree has also hired an outside third party inspector for this event.
"Not only to inspect the rides and make sure things are working properly, but also to make sure the ride operators are well-trained and doing what they're supposed to be doing," said Giordano.
Giordano says there are some other changes made in light of last year's incicent.
This year, the carnival midway won't open until 3pm during the week. Last year, it opened at 10am on weekdays.
"We've really overworked our ride operators in the past. Working thirteen, fourteen and fifteen hour days every day of the fair, said Giordano.
Another reason is to cut down on the number of rides during daytime field trips. Giordano says this will make it easier for adults to supervise small children.
Giordano says this year's fair promises to be the best ever and if he can help it, the safest ever too.