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REWIND: Safety inspections make for smooth rides at the State Fair

State Fair officials do their best to make their amusement rides as safe and scream-worthy as possible but their history isn't perfect.

DALLAS — More than 70 rides makeup the Midway at the State Fair of Texas, some of them old and familiar, others newly added. Picking the right thrills for fairgoers is the job of Rusty Fitzgerald, the State Fair’s Senior Vice President.

“I try to keep the Midway fresh,” said Fitzgerald.

Not only fresh but also smooth.

Fitzgerald says third party inspectors take a look at each ride to ensure a safe ride and the State Fair will do their own vetting even before a ride arrives at Fair Park.

“We are an independent midway and that means we can handpick rides to come to the State Fair of Texas,” he said. “So we can pick the biggest and best rides but also the best operators which is really important.”

Safety inspections have long been part of the State Fair’s history. A 1977 WFAA story archived in the SMU Jones Film Collection shows an inspector carefully looking at the old wooden rollercoaster that was a longtime staple at Fair Park.

But the history of rides at the Midway is not unblemished.

In 1975, the “Super Loops” ride made its debut and the operator boasted to WFAA about its safety record that carried no injuries or hospitalizations to riders.

That did not last.

A 12-year-old boy sitting in the front car was injured when the ride’s wheel assembly broke. Fortunately, the boy only suffered a sprained ankle and was quickly treated and released from the hospital.

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