The midway at the fair in Devon, Alta., is operated by Wild Rose Shows, a family-owned travelling carnival based out of Spruce Grove that operates midways all over Alberta and Saskatchewan, from April through September.
While operating at the Farmers’ Days fair in Stony Plain last weekend, people were injured while riding two attractions: a kid’s merry-go-round-style car ride called The Construction Zone and an adult ride called The Hurricane that sees riders in cars spin.
Two adults told Global News they were switching seats to balance their weight at the operator’s request when The Hurricane started moving, hitting them. One of them needed a dozen stitches on her leg and also had abrasions on her arms and face.
Alberta Health Services said a child was taken to hospital earlier in the day, as well, but the nature of their injures was not known.
Wild Rose Shows said that injury happened on a ride called the Construction Zone.
To operate again, Wild Rose Shows needed to be reinspected by Alberta Elevating Devices & Amusement Ride Safety Association (AEDARSA), and the Town of Devon put forward two additional demands:
- Safety retraining for Wild Rose Shows staff
- Confirmation of Wild Rose Shows’ ability to provide on safety certified individual for every three rides in the midway
A joint inspection was done on Thursday by AEDARSA and Alberta OHS officers, both in Devon and in Brooks in southern Alberta, where the company was set to operate another midway this weekend.
The Town of Devon said on Friday afternoon Wild Rose Shows was able to meet their criteria and the midway rides will be available throughout the Devon Days weekend.
Wild Rose Shows owner Mike Kryzanowski has been involved in carnivals since he was a kid and worked in the business for over 40 years. He runs Wild Rose with his wife and three adult kids.
The business is his “heart and soul” and talking about the past week was emotional for the owner.
“We feel bad and we’re going to do everything it takes for nothing to happen again,” Kryzanowski said, adding they triple-checked all the rides in Devon.
Kryzanowski said his son and wife Debbie were operating their other unit in Brooks this weekend, where similar inspections took place this week.
“We’re confident that we’re ready to open, but we’re normal human beings and we’re nervous with anticipation,” Kryzanowski said Friday afternoon as the Devon Days midway was powering up for the afternoon.
“We just hope that, you know, people will still come out and visit the show.”
His daughter Mikayla said they’re doing whatever it takes to rebuild trust with the public and worked with OHS for two days to ensure the rides were safe, but added it was all standard procedure.
“We just had to produce some paperwork for them and everything was fine.”
Devon Mayor Jeff Craddock said the safety criteria put forward was above and beyond what a carnival operator normally has to do, but the town wanted to be very sure the rides were safe.
“We put together a set of protocols we expected them to meet and they have met them,” the mayor said. “The actual okay for them to operate is a provincial decision. It’s not actually a town decision. Keep in mind, we have the right to circumvent that if we thought it wasn’t safe.”
Kryzanowski said even after the officials signed off on the rides, he spent over four hours Friday morning going over all the rides in Devon personally.
The mayor said Wild Rose went above and beyond to meet the town’s demands.
“They stepped up really well. They were engaged, they were emotional, they were complete. They allowed me to walk around and be part of their inspection process with the province. They showed me parts pieces. They laid out what they were going to do. They sent through our directives.
“They have met every mark we have asked for.”
Craddock said he wanted to be sure not just as the town’s mayor, but also as a grandfather — he plans to take his grandkids to the rides at Devon Days.
“I’m not about to put them in a position where they may be hurt or injured or worse,” he said.
Craddock said one safety incident shouldn’t shut down all the fun things in a community if changes can be made. Instead, it’s about doing everything possible to keep people safe, learning from mistakes and proceed with caution.
“There’s always an inherent risk, even when I go and jump in my car. What we tried to do was manage all of those risks, and we believe we’ve done that.”
The two rides that caused injuries to riders last weekend have been pulled from the rotation for Devon Days as they undergo inspection.
A memo from the Alberta Elevating Devices & Amusement Ride Safety Association (AEDARSA) on Friday said The Hurricane has been voluntarily removed from service for the rest of the summer by Wild Rose while it undergoes a full inspection of all components.
AEDARSA said the Construction Zone has also been removed from service while a review of electrical components and wiring to identify the source of electrical shock is done.
“The midway is an important part of Devon Days every year and we are excited to see that the rides will be available for the community to enjoy,” Craddock said in a statement.
While Devon and Brooks are going ahead, the Town of Morinville this week decided to cancel the midway at its Festival Days, scheduled for June 16 to 18, out of an abundance of caution.
“We decided that we were going to exit the relationship for this year and look forward to having them come back in future years once we figure this out,” Morinville CAO Naleen Narayan said.
“We had to make a decision,” he said, adding he didn’t foresee any hurdles for next year as long as everything is in order.
Even after all the inspections were complete Friday, Morinville said it stood by its decision, something Kryzanowski understands.
“Everybody has choices to make, right? We’ll move on and we’ll be okay. We’ll move to other locations and do our due diligence,” the midway operator said.
Devon Days runs Friday through Sunday. While the midway is going ahead, the beloved Friday night fireworks were cancelled due to the dry conditions and hot temperatures.