Ride safety top priority

CNJ staff photo: Gabriel Monte Riders get spun around in the “Freak Out” amusement ride during the Curry County Fair

By Gabriel Monte: CNJ staff writer

Sandra Martin watched, wide-eyed, as her wards from the New Visions group home were picked up 70 feet in the air, swung back and forth, and spun like a basketball on LeBron James’ finger.

“There is no way I’m doing that,” she said out loud.

As the ride, the “Freak Out,” ended, the teenagers gathered around Martin, trying to convince her to get on the ride.

“I loved it,” said Maria Pena, 16. “That was the best ride I’ve been on so far.”

But Martin, who just ate, wasn’t interested.

The Freak Out is the newest ride for Colorado-based Wright Amusement, which has supplied amusement rides and carnival games at the Curry County Fair for the last 10 years, according to operations manager Gregg “Opie” Zogt.

“It’s brand-spanking new,” Zogt said. “It’s about three weeks old.”

There are only 24 of the Freak Out rides made and only 10 of them are in the United States, according to Zogt.

The Freak Out is one of 30 rides that light up the county fairgrounds as the sun sets.

“We’re like Vegas on wheels,” Zogt said. “But no gambling.”

Wright Amusement owner John Ring said safety is a priority. He even delayed the carnival by a day to ensure the rides were properly inspected.

The company’s insurance carrier inspects and certifies the rides, which is required by state laws in New Mexico, Colorado a
nd Texas, according to Ring.

Curry County Fairgrounds Manager Justus Anderson said the county makes sure the rides are certified but leaves it to the amusement company to inspect its rides.

The rides are inspected daily by the company crew, Ring said.

Zogt said he spends about two hours a day looking out for cracks in the structures.

Over the course of a year, the company sets up in about 30 to 40 towns, Zogt said. Its next stop is Fredricksburg, Texas.

It takes the company about a day to set up and 12 hours to tear it down, Zogt said. With a crew of about 50 people, Zogt said he usually hires local people to help.

“We’re looking for help Saturday night,” he said. “We’re always looking for help tearing it down.”

Fair schedule
Today — 4-H/FFA Day
Saturday — Youth and Pioneer Day

9:30 a.m. — Junior Livestock Sale Meeting, Kevin Roberts Show Arena
9:30 a.m. — Presentation of 4-H Home Economics & General Projects sweepstakes award winners, Kevin Roberts Show Arena
10 a.m. – 10 p.m. — Agriculture and Home Arts exhibits open
3:30 p.m. — Singles Horseshoe Pitching Contest, west of Old House
4 – 10 p.m. — Commercial exhibits open
5 p.m. – Midnight — Carnival open
5:30 p.m. — Buyers Reception, Kevin Roberts Show Arena
6 p.m. — Extreme Canines Show, grass show ring
6:30 p.m. — Junior Livestock Sale, Kevin Roberts Show Arena
6:30 p.m. — Shawn Gregory, midway area
7 – 9 p.m. — Square Dancers, food court dance area
7:30 pm — Shawn Gregory, midway area
8 p.m. – Midnight — DJ, entertainment area
8:30 p.m. — Shawn Gregory, midway area
10 p.m. — Extreme Canines Show, grass show ring