By MONICA BOND
VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF
BAZETTA -- Shrieks heard along the midway at Trumbull County Fair are no cause for alarm. Visitors can relax and enjoy the entertainment, knowing the fair board has worked hard for their safety.
Concessions, rides, and emergency preparations are under the watchful eyes of Trumbull County Health Department food safety inspectors, certified operators and the fair board.
Becky Rozzo and Diane Simon, registered sanitarians with Trumbull County Health Department, inspect concession stands' preparation, handling and storage of concessions.
"The vendors here are real good. They know what's expected of them," Simon said.
All concession stands undergo an initial inspection from the health department, and the inspectors spot-check during the fair.
Rozzo and Simon check the hoses, to make sure drinking water is connected with a white or clear food- and water-safe hose; they check storage temperatures, because hot things must be 135 degrees or warmer and cold things must be 41 degrees or colder; they also check where things are stored.
"We check to make sure there are no chemicals stored with food, where it could spill and cross-contaminate," Rozzo said. "Meat must be stored below vegetables, so you don't end up with chicken juice on lettuce."
If the inspectors find something minor, it is noted, and the owner of the stand must fix it by the next time the inspectors come around; if it's a hazard to public health, the concession stand must close until the problem is fixed.
The inspectors say they seldom see serious problems.
"We have a lot of good operators and people who try hard," Rozzo said.
Amy Bates, daughter of Bates Brothers owner Eric Bates, said the company works closely with the state and ride manufacturers to ensure the safety of their patrons.
Height restrictions are set by the manufacturer, and the rides are licensed by the Ohio Department of Agriculture. The state inspects the rides each year before the season begins and then performs spot-checks.
"They have our schedule of where we'll be from April through September," she said. "They were here this week to re-examine the rides."
All the ride operators are certified and trained for their specific ride, Bates said. They perform a walk-through inspection every day before the rides open at noon and again when they open at 6 p.m. Operators also maintain radio contact throughout the midway and are on hand to help if an emergency situation arises.
"Some of our foremen are certified in CPR and some have EMT training, because some are volunteer firefighters in the winter," she said. "We've never had to use it, and we hope we never will."
Fair board president Richard Roscoe is confident in Bates Brothers' safety.
"They're the best in Ohio; no one comes close. That's why we have them," he said.
Roscoe said there are plans to handle emergencies that may arise. Action Ambulance has two booths under the grandstand and two ambulances at the fair. One ambulance is present at every motorized event, and the other is on the grounds, Roscoe said.
"We're really covered in that area," he said.
Plans for severe weather are also in place. Roscoe said they monitor the weather closely if there is a chance for a storm. In that case, rides shut down and tent drops are fastened.
"If there's thunder, lightning, or high winds they shut down right away," he said. This was evident Wednesday afternoon when rain and wind picked up.
In very severe weather, Roscoe said they will direct people under the grandstand and close the four large doors.
"I wouldn't be afraid to be in that grandstand," he said.