It's fair season! This will be my daughter's third 4-H fair and we are looking forward to showing animals, downing some deep-fried fair food, and just hanging out with friends and family.

One of the things she absolutely loves is carnival rides. I'm not much into spinning and sliding and all that but every year she begs for the wristband to go as much as she wants.

So, imagine my reaction when I saw this video pop up in my Facebook feed today.

Meet Lauren Eliza who goes by Lauern the Mortician on social media. I think her content about death is interesting sometimes and I love a good "here's why you should never let your kids do xyz because it's dangerous and they might die" content so I can add to my already out-of-control mom anxiety. I also saved it so that I could look into it later.

Well, here we are. It's later. 

Just this past weekend, six people were injured when a carnival ride at an Independence Day street festival tipped over. Thankfully, no one was killed but the town did cancel the rides for the remainder of the weekend.

Back in 2017, the Indiana State Fair canceled a ride called the Fire Ball after an accident in Ohio that left one person dead and seven more injured. Just last year, a carnival roller coaster ride got stuck leaving passengers stranded for hours upside down in Wisconsin.

And most recently, bystanders had to rush to save a group from certain demise on a carnival ride that was on the verge of tipping over.

I mean, I've never been one for carnival rides myself but before I put the kibosh on letting my daughter ride, I figured I'd better do my research.

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What are Carnival Ride Regulations in Indiana & Kentucky?

First up, I wanted to see what Indiana and Kentucky's regulations were for amusement ride inspections. Some states like Mississippi, Alabama, Nevada, South Dakota, Wyoming and Utah don't even require inspections and some like Kansas and Tennessee have very light requirements. So, let's take a look on what's required in our states.

According to the Directory of State Amusement Ride Officials:


Thomas Hendricks, Section Chief Office of State Building Commissioner Amusement Ride Division

Rides are inspected on first "setup" each year. They are then subject to inspection each addittional time they are "setup." Permits and licenses are required.


Chad Halsey, Administrative Branch Manager Department of Agriculture Division of Regulation and Inspection

KRS Chapter 247, effective July 5, 1988.302 KAR 16.08E special regulations for "bungee jumping" operations. Permit, good for one year. Fees depend on type of device. One annual inspection required by state. Mobile & fixed site amusements, ski lifts, water slides, air inflatables, and go-cart establishments are all covered

So, it looks like carnival rides need an inspection by someone with the state each year and can be subjected to additional inspections like at the State Fair. In fact, I found an article from 2021 about Indiana Homeland Security's committment to the safety of amusement rides at the Indiana State Fair.

“We’re making sure anything that locks, or if it buckles or clips that those mechanisms are working to keep the riding public safe and secure on this ride,” said Cronley. “We’re also making sure that there’s nothing on the structure of the ride sticking out that’s going to cut you, poke you, be abrasive,”  said Matthew Cronley with the Department of Homeland Security’s Amusement Ride Safety.


How Safe are Carnival Rides?

Next up, I wanted to know statistics.

According to IAAPA,

In a typical year, more than 385 million guests safely enjoyed in excess of 1.7 billion rides at approximately 400 North American fixed-site facilities. The chance of being seriously injured on a fixed-site ride at a U.S. amusement park is 1 in 15.5 million rides taken.

Ahh but that's fixed amusement rides. What we are looking for are "mobile" amusement rides. You can look up all the safety reports here. 

So, I dug a little deeper. According to, "According to data from CPSC, in 2019 there were 1,299 injuries from amusement park accidents in the U.S." This includes both mobile and fixed parks. And it also includes accidents caused by user error - not ride error.

Though it's very challenging to find updated information, the CPSC reported, 

In 2000, there were an estimated 10,580 emergency room-treated injuries associated with both fixed-site and mobile amusement rides. From 1993 through 2000, there was a statistically significant increase in the total number of amusement ride injuries. Mobile rides accounted for 3,990 of the total injuries in 2000. There was no significant trend in mobile ride injuries from 1993 through 2000. CPSC has reports of 2 amusement ride-related fatalities in 2000, 6 in 1999, and 7 in 1998. From 1987 through 1999, there was an estimated average of 4.5 fatalities each year. Fatality reporting for 1999 and 2000 is incomplete at this time. • Most injuries occurred to children 10-14 years old (17.9%), with children 5-9 (12.6%) and 15-19 years old (13.8%) next, but with many victims 0-4 years old (6.3%). 

I reached out to for updated information and here's what Patty Davis, the Press Secretary and Deputy Director for the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission | Office of Communications sent me:

From 2021 to 2023 an annual average of 22,600 injuries associated with amusement attractions were treated in U.S. hospital emergency departments, excluding water slides, or 38,300 with water slides included.

She pointed out that the stats are from ALL amusement rides, not just mobile ones.

Hmmm, another dead end with mobile rides. went on to list various fatal accidents that happened at carnivals and fairs over the past 10 years. You can view them here. 

Read More: What a New 4-H Mom Learned at Our First County Fair

A Statement from North American Midway Rides

I was curious what carnival companies say about how they conduct safety checks on their rides. North American Midway is one othe country's leading carnival ride operators. They posted this to their website:

On-site Safety Coordinators who work closely with state and local authorities to ensure all rides pass and exceed inspections and examinations. Our program encompasses bi-annual comprehensive non-destructive testing (NDT) for every single ride in the company inventory.

Will I Let My Kid Ride the Carnival Rides at the Fair?

Y'all. I hate to be Debbie Downer, but I think it is important to arm ourselves with the facts. Last week, I swam in the ocean knowing full well that my family and I could have been shark bait. I weighed the chance of something terrible happening against the memories we'd make. But not until I looked at the history of shark bites happening where we were staying, any recent activity in the area, and the safety tips on how to avoid being bitten.

Will I let my kiddo ride a carnival ride? Probably but I'll limit her to the ones that won't send her flying through the air should anything happen. And you know, who are we kidding - driving in our car to and from the fair is probably the most dangerous ride of all.

You'll have to make that decision for yourself and your family. If you are really worried about it, Holiday World has some fantastic rides and they have an impeccable safety record. See you at the fair!

Things You Might See at the KY State Fair

Thinking about going to the KY State Fair? Here's what past years have been like!

Gallery Credit: Ashley Sollars

The Most Delicious Fair/Festival Foods That We've Ever Had

Gallery Credit: Courtlin