Getting ready to ride at Westerner Days

A Calgary Stampede midway ride that sent riders crashing to the ground after it malfunctioned has stumped the amusement ride industry, says the owner of a company bringing midway rides to Westerner Days.

West Coast Amusements staff clean off the new Vertigo ride at Westerner Park Monday in preparation for Westerner Days

West Coast Amusements staff clean off the new Vertigo ride at Westerner Park Monday in preparation for Westerner Days

A Calgary Stampede midway ride that sent riders crashing to the ground after it malfunctioned has stumped the amusement ride industry, says the owner of a company bringing midway rides to Westerner Days.

Bob Hauser, owner of West Coast Amusements, expressed shock over what happened when a riding pod broke off from one of the three arms of the Scorpion ride. Ten people were injured, six of whom were sent to hospital. Provincial investigators say it could take up to two months to find out the cause.

North American Midway Entertainment, which set up in Calgary and which subcontracts the Red Deer midway to Hauser’s business, has an impeccable safety record, said Hauser.

Patrons who will attend Westerner Days, which starts Wednesday and ends Sunday, can be assured that rides are carefully inspected, Hauser said.

Supervisors from West Coast inspect each ride daily. As well, provincial inspectors come by since midway operators are regulated through the provincial government.

“These rides are very, very safe,” said Hauser, who added his grandchildren ride the rides daily. “That incident that happened (in Calgary) is one in a jillion . . . our industry was pretty shook up from it.”

John Harms, chief executive officer and general manager of Westerner Park, said they’ve had a contract with West Coast Amusements for about 10 years and there’s been no midway mishaps with them.

“Safety is of particular importance,” Harms said.

Red Deer’s midway will have no rides similar to the Scorpion, said Hauser.

The midway will have about 42 rides in all.

A new ride, called the Vertigo, is the only one of its kind in Canada, Hauser said.

“It’s a big swing ride that takes you up 100 feet in the air,” he said. “The (provincial) inspectors will inspect that ride because it’s a brand new machine and they’ll go through every other piece of equipment here.”

Among the thrill rides returning to the grounds are the Tilt-a-Whirl, Spin Out, Twinflip, Inverter, Himalaya, Zero Gravity, as well as the bumper cars.

Midway coupon prices are one for $1, 11 for $10, 22 for $20 and 55 for $50. Ticket to ride all day, including gate admission but not parking, can be bought for $27 at any Alberta Fas Gas and Fas Gas Plus location. Otherwise, an all-day ticket pass can be bought for $30 at a midway ticket booth on site, but doesn’t include gate admission.

For more information, go online at www.westernerdays.ca

ltester@bprda.wpengine.com