Western Idaho Fair ride vendor fined for safety violations

BOISE, Idaho (KBOI) - The company that provides the rides for the Western Idaho Fair is being fined for operating rides they knew were unsafe in California.

Butler Amusements was fined more than $100,000 from an inspection that took place back in October 2013 in Fresno, California. The Western Idaho Fair tells KBOI 2News that Butler Amusements has been behind the rides at the Western Idaho Fair for at least 15 years, and is on the list again for Summer 2014.

Western Idaho Fair spokesman Bob Batista said that the company has always had an excellent safety record, and has complied with all safety regulations and inspection laws that are required by the state. But still, some folks tell KBOI 2News this makes them hesitate to hop back on the rides this summer when the fair comes back through town.

The gates are still locked, and the fair is still a few months away. For now the Western Idaho Fair is best known as a fond summer memory.

"It's just like a fun atmosphere and it's especially nice because it's the last week before the Boise School District usually starts so it was always kind of a nice last hoorah of summer," Boise resident Katherine Olsson said.

"We have a good time, we go for our kids obviously," Boise resident Amanda Corleone said. "We have two children. It's what you do in the summer, they ride the rides."

Those rides are brought in by Butler Amusements. The company was fined for operating rides they knew were not safe at a fair in Fresno back in October 2013. The investigation focused on two rides, the Giant Wheel and Flying Bobs, which according to the documents, had structural support bolts that were missing.

These violations were termed "serious" and "willful." The company has until Saturday to appeal the citation.

"That freaks me out a lot, but then at the same time I never really trusted the rides that much so I'm not really that surprised," Olsson said.

Batista said the company has always had a great safety record here in Idaho, and didn't have any problems to report at the Western Idaho Fair specifically. Still, many people told KBOI 2News that once is enough to make them think twice about jumping back on the rides this summer.

"It does give me pause for this summer I'll be honest," Corleone said.

"It makes me really uncomfortable, Boise resident Bromley Autier said. "I think you put a lot of trust in the companies who set up the rides there and I don't know that I would even go if I knew they weren't trustworthy."

Western Idaho Fair said they are continuing to look into the issue. KBOI 2News tried contacting Butler Amusements for a statement, but they said they are not commenting on the issue at this time.