South Dakota carnival rides go unregulated - KSFY News - Sioux Falls, SD News, Weather, Sports

South Dakota carnival rides go unregulated

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One week from Thursday is the Fourth of July.

And in many communities, part of the celebration involves a carnival coming to town.

But if it's here in South Dakota, the thrilling rides go unregulated.

There's nothing like the thrills and excitement of a summer time carnival.

With a handful of tickets, most of us are probably thinking 'what are we going to get on first, not, who's checking the safety of those rides?'

These rides spin whirl and make us scream with delight.

But if left unchecked, those good times could turn to bad.

Carnival goer Carrie Carder said "sometimes, when you hear about things happening in other cities or other carnivals around the area, you always wonder, if the things are safe that your on."

Carder has been coming to the carnival in Dell Rapids since she was a kid, and now brings her own kids, but she never realized the rides in South Dakota go unregulated.

"It does surprise me a little. You would think that every state would have some form of regulations on rides like this, especially with young children or even up to high school age on them at all times. You'd think there'd be some sort of standard that would be happening nationwide on it," Carder said.

Most states regulate carnival rides.

Minnesota, Iowa, and Nebraska all require annual inspections.

But South Dakota State Representative Steve Hickey also admits its surprising we're the only state in our area which doesn't check carnival ride safety.

"Right now, you only have to have insurance, other states, many if not most other states have some requirement for annual inspections and some record of daily inspections. I think the public assumes that," Hickey said.

But carnivals don't go completely unchecked.

"What's going on over my shoulder is bingo and the state has a regulation on that and just behind you are hot dogs being sold and the department of health sticks a needle in those and checks the temperature, and I think the public assumes somebody is overseeing these rides too," Hickey said.

This spring, a ride malfunction in Sisseton left two teenagers stranded, suspended in mid-air for nearly 90 minutes. KSFY News investigated carnival ride safety laws, approached Hickey for his reaction and now he's ready to take action and draft a bill.

"I think that there's some interest after what happened in Sisseston for some other legislators and myself to put forward a bill that will be similar to what's going on in other states, just to make sure there's annual inspections, in addition to our insurance requirement," Hickey said.

Some of the biggest and scariest carnival rides in our area can be found at the Sioux Empire Fair.

And it's CEO welcomes the regulation.

Scott Wick, CEO and President of the Sioux Empire Fair said "their business is on display. As long as it's operating and people are laughing and having fun and riding the rides. If there's a bill that comes about, it will just help solidify what I believe every carnival operator is already doing. Sometimes another form of checks and balances, within reason, is a good thing."

"Everybody here assumes that somebody is checking the rides over and I think by and large, all of the promoters and operators are good people. They want to see families have good safe fun, and they're checking their machines and equipment every single day," Hickey said.

Even so, Hickey says we shouldn't wait for an accident to make headlines.

"This is preventative and it's not an unreasonable amount of regulation. We regulate a lot of things, trucks going down the road, this isn't out of the ordinary," Hickey said.

"I think South Dakota should have regulations just like the other states around us," Carder said.

Some people might be surprised that South Dakota doesn't regulate it's carnival rides, but if it passes, Hickey's bill could change all of that.

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