GREENEVILLE (WJHL) – The Greene County Fair has selected a new company to take over carnival rides. The fair terminated its contract with Family Attractions Amusement Company after three girls were injured after falling nearly 20 feet from a Ferris wheel last year.
“I got there right after it happened and everyone was running up to me and they were like, ‘Oh my gosh, did you hear what happened?’” Summer Hunley said.
Her friend, Sarah Maupin, was on the ride just moments before a problem caused a seat on the Ferris wheel to tip over, dumping out the girls.
“Just before, I was on the ride. So I was terrified, like what if it would’ve been me or are they okay?” Maupin said.
After the accident, the Greene County Fair terminated its contract with Family Attractions Amusement Company. The president of the fair, Rick Clark, says they have chosen to go with Belle City Amusement this year.
“We were certainly concerned about what happened last year and took great pains when we looked for a new carnival to make sure that we were dealing with somebody that had an overall excellent safety record,” Clark explained.
In Memphis last year, several people were taken to the hospital from the Delta Fair after riding on a ride called the Moonraker. That ride was operated by Belle City Amusements.
Belle City president Charles Panacek says the ride opened the next day and did not malfunction.
“Their insurance company classified that accident as a minor incident,” Clark said.
Clark says the ride involved in the incident in Memphis will not be at the Greene County Fair. Some people, like Michelle Stokley, say even though that’s the case, they are still uneasy about ever getting on a ride again.
“I understand that they have to have somebody come in, but safety should always be a priority over money,” Stokley said.
She is related to the three girls who were injured last year in Greene County. She said despite the safety record of Belle City Amusements, she doesn’t plan to attend the fair again.
“We wont be back to the fair. After that, I mean we’ve pretty much stepped away from rides and amusement parks and what not,” Stokley explained.
Clark said there’s no need for concern.
“That new group with Belle City’s been around for 68 years, and you’re not in the carnival business for 68 years if you’ve not done something right,” he said.
When asked if Maupin and Hunley will be attending the fair this year:
“Yeah, probably yeah. It’s just kind of tradition anyway. Like you always go, it’s the fair,” they said.
Belle City Amusements signed a contract for one year with the option of a two year extension.
Kimmie Reynolds. mother of two of the girls injured last year issued a statement saying: “With our previous experience, and a known accident for the new amusement company, I can only hope that the Greene County Fair Board is taking into consideration the safety and well-being of the people in Greeneville and Greene County and the surrounding areas. I feel it is very important to place safety over any financial gain. You cannot place a monetary value on a life ”
The Greene County Fair is set to take place August 7-13.