Sunday, Dec 8, 2013
Parents Weigh Safety at Festivals
WEST FRANKFORT -- It's a busy time of fairs and festivals across our region, but the recent arrest of two Illinois carnival workers on murder charges may raise safety concerns.
Those two workers are accused of stabbing and strangling a man in central Illinois. They were employed by a vendor at a community festival just like the ones going on across southern Illinois this time of year.
Festivals like Old King Coal in West Frankfort mean fun, food, and time with family. But with strangers all over the place, it can also be a time for parents to worry.
"You don't know the people that are coming in to town and then they leave very quickly and stuff," said Angela Williams of West Frankfort.
Williams has three daughters and says she feels safe bringing them around the carnival workers at Old King Coal.
"I think a lot of the smaller venues and the ones that do the better background checks and check in to their workers stuff like that, I think those are the ones you really want to go to and feel more safe around," she explained.
But Williams says her 14-year-old had a bad experience at a previous festival. "One of the carnival workers had said something to her that was very inappropriate and we've not ever had that happen here," she said.
So how do you know the people your kids are handing their tickets to are trustworthy? The carnival operator at Old King Coal, Luehr's Ideal Rides, has been in the industry for more than 60 years.
"Every employee is criminally background checked, drug testing, and not only drug testing, I mean random drug testing," said President Andrew Schoendienst.
Schoendienst says his crew of more than 30 follows stringent guidelines. "There's no long hair, there's no tattoos, there's no earrings, no piercings," he said.
His company also volunteers for regular inspections from the Outdoor Amusement Business Association and ranks in the top eight. Luehr's hopes to break the negative stigma associated with carnival workers by keeping its environment safe for everyone.
"I want a parent to feel like they can take their child, bring them to the Old King Festival, and not have to worry," added Schoendienst.
If you'd like to see if the carnival nearest you is inspected by the Outdoor Amusement Business Association you can visit their website oaba.org.
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