Security and safety measures in place for National Peanut Festival

Security and safety measures in place for National Peanut Festival

DOTHAN, AL (WSFA) - A little more than a week out from this year's National Peanut Festival, hammering and the sound of cranes moving heavy equipment can be heard around the fairgrounds.

"The crazy mouse in the background is going up this morning. We have several tents going up around the facility," said Peanut Festival President Jason Rudd.

It's all in effort to get everything ready for opening day on Nov. 3. Rudd says they are nearly ready to welcome about 180,000 guests next week. He says presale tickets are about 70 percent ahead of schedule.

With so many guests, he says safety is as important as fun. Safety planning meetings will start this week.

"We bring in all the safety personnel. The police, fire, local rescue, EMA, and the EMS. We also do a lot of undercover work on the fairgrounds. Just about anywhere you look, you're probably looking at an undercover somewhere in the crowds. We go over a safety plan each day. We go over it for that day as well as the next. There will be a lot of folks, but a lot of good times and safe times," Rudd said.

The preparation isn't just about getting ready for large crowds. It's also making sure the most popular attractions are safely functioning.

"Safety starts when we're putting it together and tearing the rides down. They get inspected every single day," said Jeff Alberts, safety coordinator for Reithoffer Shows.

Alberts says there is a check system to ensure that rides are functioning, which includes two third party inspectors.

"People get scared that the rides are going up so fast. They're made to do that. They're a portable ride. I'd rather have my children ride rides that are put up and torn down every two weeks and get inspected by a different state and municipality every two weeks. That way you can see every internal part every two weeks," Alberts said.

The industry has been under a microscope in the last year following multiple - and in some instances deadly - incidents involving malfunctioning amusement park rides.

"That accident that was in Ohio and some of the other ones across the country makes us more vigilant. It's a sad thing that happened up there. We parked our ride that was similar to that. We haven't used it until the factory comes out with a better fix," Alberts said.

He says your safety on rides isn't only about proper setup, it's about adhering to safety guidelines.

"Every ride has safety precautions. Come up and look at the ride. When you get on the rides, wear the safety belts. Whatever that's supplied use them properly and enjoy the fair," Alberts said.

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