County officials stress safety at the fair


MISSOULA, Mont. - Missoula county commissioners are focused on safety at the Western Montana Fair after someone was injured on a carnival ride in Great Falls earlier this month.

There are more than 30 rides at the Western Montana Fair this year and that's why Missoula County Commissioner Michele Landquist tells NBC Montana they are taking extra steps to make sure fairgoers are safe.

"Anytime you have stuff like this it can be risky business," Landquist says. "What we're really looking for is good reliability and safety features."

Landquist tells us after headaches in the past, the county has set the bar high for this year's new carnival vendor, North Star Amusements.

She tells us all Missoula County Fairgrounds staff have been taking safety training classes on a monthly basis so they can respond immediately in case of an emergency.

"They've all been trained on how to put out grease fires and what to do in all kinds of different emergencies," says Landquist.

Even with all of the precautions officials take some residents say they're still nervous.

"I feel safe but the rides are kind of wiggly," says Missoula resident Jalen Cooper. "I just have to hold onto them."

Cooper's friend Brylee Meisinger says she feels perfectly safe on the amusement rides.

"I do feel safe because these people have been everywhere and they know what they're doing," she says.

Ericka Rossing tells NBC Montana she loves the fair but there are some rides that she simply avoids because she doesn't think they are safe.

"The Zipper is not safe and locked-on that good," she tells us. "It's just a clip, that's all."

For Landquist, it's all about safety and making sure people have a good time at the fair.

"So far what I've seen are a lot of happy people," says Landquist. "I think it's going to be an awesome fair this year and it's already off to a good start."

The fair kicked off Tuesday and runs through Sunday at the Missoula County Fairgrounds.

Admission is free between 11:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. Wednesday through Friday.

For more information about the Western Montana Fair, click here.