Lane Kramar doesn't think much about ride safety. When the 15-year-old goes to the carnival at the Douglas County Fair, he's just looking to have fun.
"Young boys are fearless," said his mom, Margaret Kramar, as they ate lunch inside a 4-H exhibition hall at the fair Wednesday.
"They wouldn't put the rides up if they weren't safe," added Lane.
Like the Lecompton teenager, many fairgoers figure that someone else is ensuring the rides are safe — but who?
According to Margaret Kalb, executive secretary of the Douglas County Fair, ride safety is the responsibility of the carnival company itself, which is expected to get the proper inspections and licensing.
The person tasked with making sure those things happen is Ricky Moore, owner of Moore's Greater Shows, who sat in a lawn chair under the shade of a tree Tuesday, watching his crews set up the various rides that will be tilting and whirling Douglas County residents this week.
He said the carnival does daily inspections, going over a safety checklist an hour before opening. It has also received state inspections in several states it has done fairs in this summer, including within the past 30 days, which exempts it from being inspected again in Kansas, Moore said.
State law requires carnival owners to retain their maintenance and inspection records, do testing in accordance with manufacturer recommendations, post their latest inspection certificate and safety instructions, and train their operators. The Kansas Department of Labor inspected 18 amusement parks last year at random, issuing a total 17 violations, which were all rectified within the given time frame. Of six inspections so far this year, there have been no violations.
As far as Moore is concerned, though, the burden of guaranteeing ride safety falls on him and his employees.
"We've been doing this 90 years," he said of the Lyford, Texas-based company started by his grandfather.
"The rides are safe if you maintain them right," Moore added, comparing their danger to that of an airplane.
He contended that traveling carnivals like his are safer than amusement parks because his employees are constantly assembling and disassembling the rides, making it that much more likely they'll notice if something is amiss.
One thing is for certain: Most fairgoers are there simply to have a good time — and leave their safety largely in the hands of others.
"I'm not scared of any rides. I especially like the Top Gun and the Zipper — they're really fun for me," said 11-year-old Camila Rodriguez, of Lawrence, before she and a friend skipped toward the carnival Wednesday.