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Business owner: It's safety first when carnival comes to town

June 9, 2014

The festival season has begun and carnival and amusement ride companies are already setting up at events around the state to bring their unique form of flashing lights and stomach-churning, g-force motion rides to the brave of heart.
But there is a lot to more to a carnival setting up in town for a few days or a week-long festival than unpacking the rides and connecting them to their electricity supplies.
Jack Fanelli of the Fanelli Amusement Co. in New Hampshire and Massachusetts, a leading carnival company in Rhode Island along with Rockwell Amusements of Johnston, said there are lots of requirements to meet even before a carnival arrives in town.
“Before we even erect the all the equipment all the operators we employ have to go through the training process,” Fanelli said. Employees are also carefully screened given the family-oriented nature of the amusement ride business and Fanelli said his family-owned company requires all employees to complete a background check through the Criminal History Systems Board process that was set up in Massachusetts to help facilitate accurate criminal background checks.
Fanelli said his company conducted such checks even before that system was put in place because of its interest in having “better quality” employees for its operations.
After employees are trained in the operation of their rides, the next step in kicking off another season is to gain initial licensing from the state where the shows are to be held. As a New England-based company serving that market, Fanelli does annual shows in Rhode Island and has a structural engineer from the state come up to its headquarters to evaluate its equipment before the season begins.
The company must then apply for its annual operating license from the state and schedule a site inspection by the state’s inspector when the company sets up at a festival in the state. The state inspections of the ride equipment are conducted on the first day of operation and then the company itself makes daily inspections of its rides as the show continues.
The show also must receive the approval of a local community’s building inspector and public safety personnel to win the local licensing permit or temporary occupancy documents needed for the carnival to open.
Fanelli Amusements has been providing the rides at Autumnfest in Woonsocket for 25 years, according to Fanelli, and also sets up the midway at Cumberlandfest in Cumberland. Cumberlandfest will run on Aug. 8, 9 and 10, and Autumnfest is scheduled to be held Columbus Day weekend, Aug. 11, 12, and 13.
Rockwell, which just operated a carnival in Federal Hill in Providence, will also be coming to Woonsocket to run the rides at the Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Festival at Park Square between July 30 and Aug. 2.
Read the full story in Tuesday's newspaper.

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