ANOKA, Minn. - For 143 years, people have been buying tickets for the Anoka County Fair.
"Even though the fair's been around for over 100 years, we don't want it to look like a 100-year-old fair," says Anoka County Fair President Mike Ahlers.
There are horses to ride, goats to pet, cheese curds and fries. And, there's the zipper ride.
"Every day our inspectors are required to be out here early and to go through each ride," says Randy Forcier.
Forcier is the president of Gopher State Expositions, the family-owned company that brings the rides, games, and food to Anoka and other county fairs across the state.
"It's absolutely serious," he says. "Safety is our first concern."
It's Minnesota law that every ride gets tested daily, and also annually by an independent inspector.
Forcier says Gopher State goes a step further by testing during the day and keeping a detailed checklist of how the ride looks and sounds.
"It actually has a step-by-step as to the critical points to check on these rides before we put them into operation," he says.
Gopher State also keeps its operators on the same rides so that they get used to how the ride sounds and looks when it is running properly.
Gopher State's new slogan is: "Safe, Clean, Fun."
Something Anoka County, too, takes pride in, decade after decade.
"Even though we have a lot of compliments on the food and on the rides, and we have the safety of the whole fairgrounds itself, we do get a lot of compliments on how well we maintain it," says Ahlers.
The Minnesota Federation of County Fairs says it makes sure to hire reputable companies who follow the laws, and check and re-check their rides.
There are 13 county fairs in Minnesota this weekend, but Anoka is one of the bigger ones in the state. It started Tuesday and runs through Sunday. About 40,000 people are expected to attend.
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