BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — Fair safety is a serious topic that people across Kern County are concerned about.
Whether it’s about the rides or security, people want to know, just how safe is the fair?
Fair rides are known to have a negative stereotype. Big, dangerous and put together just a day or two before opening day. Since the gates have opened rides have been going nonstop.
Fair rides can be scary. Not just in the adrenaline-pushing sense but the fear they’ll break down and someone could get hurt but brave fairgoers say, it’s not as bad as you think.
“If you do think about it, it will hit you like everything you see on the news and everything,” Karen Beltran a fairgoer said. “Overall, I did not feel like I was in danger at any point.”
“It felt great. Really, really safe. Really tight,” Jose Vasquez a fairgoer said. “The ride didn’t feel like it was wobbling or anything. Get the courage to get on there and try it out you know.”
The rides aren’t as dangerous as you think. The rides go up and stay up and get constant safety inspections sometimes a few a day.
“You have your risks with everything as well,” Chelsey Roberts with the Kern County Fair said. “They go through so many rigorous inspections. They go through daily inspections nonstop just to make sure that all the rides are safe for our community.”
BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — Safety at the Fair isn’t just about the rides. The sheriff’s office typically provides security at the Kern County Fair, but due to staffing issues, it gave that contract to Bakersfield Police Department.
The sheriff’s office for some time now is seeing a growing number of vacancies. Sheriff Donny Youngblood said there are more than 400 department-wide vacancies and they just don’t have enough manpower to staff the fair.
“Deputies are on forced overtime,” Youngblood said. “I can’t force more overtime. It just seemed like the right time. We just can’t do it sufficiently. We used to have 400 reserve deputies we now have 18.”
Youngblood said the sheriff’s office is losing an average of 26 sworn deputies every year. So the Bakersfield Police Department will now handle fair security.
It’s the first year Bakersfield Police Department has taken over as the lead law enforcement agency at the fair.
“Everything should run fairly similar,” Lt. Rick Dossey with the Bakersfield Police Department said. “Hopefully the same smooth way it did before. Our goal is just to provide a safe and fun environment for all the attendees and vendors and just have everybody come out to the fair this year.”
BPD has an on-site dispatch center at the fair. It’s located near the southwest corner, called Harvest Hall, near gate 40. A reminder to parents and children, if you get lost at the fair, follow the yellow duck feet on the ground. That trail will lead you directly to that dispatch center.
“We have quite a few of allied agencies that are helping us,” Dossey said. “Delano PD, McFarland, CDCR parole, Kern County probations is gonna be out here. We have additional officers onsite trying to be present and make everyone feel safe and let everyone know that we’re here to protect them.”