Erie County Fair Opens With New Rides, Including the King of the Midway

Ride safety a top priority to Strates Shows

Tom Puckett
August 07, 2019 - 4:00 am

Erie County Fair

Hamburg, NY (WBEN) The Erie County Fair opens for the 180th time Wednesday, and as excitement for a new ride comes in, there is an emphasis on ride safety.

One ride that's coming back is the Sky Wheel, considered the King of the Midway. “The double Ferris wheel is one of the most requested bygone attractions that fairgoers continually ask us to bring back,” said Marty Biniasz, Erie County Fair Marketing Manager. “Not only is this rare ride an icon of the Strates Shows midway, it also has a deep Buffalo-Niagara connection as the Sky Wheel ride was once manufactured by the Allan Herschell Co.” The Sky Wheel debuted on the Erie County Fair’s midway in 1963 and was a featured attraction until 1994. The ride made a brief reappearance between 1996 and 1998 before it was retired by the Strates Shows.

Keeping the Sky Wheel and other rides safe is the responsibility of Jim Strates and his crews. "We have to conform to the highest standard of any place we play, even if it's a niche item in the state you're in," explains Strates. "We meet the highest standard so we exceed the New York or Florida standard because no one incorporates the highest standards of all the states." Would it be easier for an across the board federal standard? "I think it would be a good thing if they did it with common sense. But you never know what you're going to get when the federal government gets involved, and I think right now, with the political climate being so polarized, I don't anyone would want to roll the dice and see what comes out the other end," says Strates.

Strates says there are many eyes making sure the rides are safe. "Ride opeators set up and do daily inspections. There's also an independent inspector hired by the fair to double check our guys, and works in coordination with the Department of Labor, who has the ultimate say in permitting," explains Strates. 

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