As Lee’s Summit ‘Downtown Days’ near, organizers stress ride safety, promise thorough inspections

LEE'S SUMMIT, Mo. -- A local festival is set to open with cause for concern.

Downtown Days begins in downtown Lee's Summit on Thursday afternoon, and the company providing carnival rides was recently involved with the death of a child.

Rides positioned along SW Main Street in Lee's Summit's downtown are nearly ready, and Downtown Days organizers assure the public they're taking precautions, including a long series of inspections. It's been less than a month since Evans United Shows, which is based in Plattsburg, Mo., was accused of carelessness at a festival in Wichita, Kan. That's where a 15-month-old girl was electrocuted.

Downtown Days organizers say their festival could draw as many as 100,000 people this weekend, as the festival kicks off Thursday at 12 p.m. Festival directors say safety will be placed as a high priority for all of them.

Published reports indicate on May 12th, Evans United Shows worked a festival in Wichita, where 15-month old Pressley Bartonek was electrocuted after touching a metal fence, which, according to a report from Weststar Utilities, had 290 volts running through it. The little girl died five days later.

"My heart goes out to the family from the issue in Wichita," Donnie Rodgers, Downtown Lee's Summit Main Street executive director, told FOX 4 News on Wednesday.

Rodgers says the Missouri State Fire Marshal's office will be on hand to inspect these rides, and local support will be added to ensure thorough inspections.

"After those inspections are done, our fire department and department of building safety will provide additional inspections as well. Making sure all rides have state-issued stickers," Rodgers said.

Mike O'Connell, a spokesperson for the Missouri State Fire Marshal, says those inspections are done on a surprise basis, and the agency won't announce when inspectors would visit Lee's Summit. Rodgers says this festival will employ a master electrician for the weekend, and despite the Wichita tragedy, his office isn't considering use of a different amusement company.

"We're taking every precaution we can. We want to bring a good event to the community. A fun, family-friendly, safe event. We're doing everything in our power to see that that happens," Rodgers said.

Rodgers says Downtown Days has employed the services of Evans United Shows for four years. He says the festival will have almost 200 vendors on the streets, most of which will use electricity.

One of Evans United Shows owners, Jim Evans, was on hand on Wednesday morning, but declined FOX 4 News' request for an interview.