Organizers of an upcoming festival in Boothbay Harbor have removed rides from Smokey’s Greater Shows from their program after four were injured Friday and Saturday on the company’s rides in Waterville.

The Friends of Windjammer Days, the group that runs the annual celebration of the region’s boating history, canceled the rides after the accidents in Waterville, according to Andrew Luke, a member of the group’s board of directors.

Even so, organizers of other summer festivals said Tuesday they plan to stick with Smokey’s, citing long-standing relationships and a good safety record.

Luke said organizers of Windjammer Days “looked at our exposure” in terms of public relations and liability and “erred on the side of caution,” though he didn’t rule out working with the company in the future. The company was scheduled to provide rides for four days during Windjammer Days, which runs June 21 to 27.

“At this point in time, we could not in good conscience go forward with the show,” Luke said. “There are still too many questions out there.”

The Office of the State Fire Marshal still is investigating the incident that occurred on Friday evening at the carnival at Head of Falls in Waterville, in which a miniature roller coaster ride called the Dragon Wagon apparently malfunctioned and came apart while carrying a load of children. Three riders suffered minor injuries. A video of the incident shows the rear cars stopping quickly and coming apart, jerking children in the ride forward and causing panic among watching parents.


Rider error was determined to have caused the other accident at the Waterville event, on Saturday afternoon, when, according to the fire marshal’s office, a woman fell from a swing ride after unbuckling her restraint before the ride stopped.

Officials said the accidents won’t trigger re-inspections of the company’s other rides and that Smokey’s can continue normal operations statewide.

Smokey’s is a fixture at spring and summer festivals in Maine. It has been booked for 18 events this year from Portland to Presque Isle, according to its website. However, one of those events, an August festival in Augusta, has been canceled in a move unrelated to the accidents, said Leif Erik Dahlin, the city’s community services director.

Smokey’s is still scheduled for July appearances at Bath Heritage Days and the Yarmouth Clam Festival. Ed Rogers, the Bath festival’s coordinator, called the company “very, very above-board.” Mark Primeau, who coordinates the Yarmouth event for the local chamber of commerce, said Smokey’s has operated at that festival since 1965.

“Their track record has been fantastic with us, so we have not made any decisions to cancel the carnival,” Primeau said.

Jeanette Gilmore, Smokey’s owner, couldn’t be reached for comment Tuesday. She has hailed the company’s safety record and said on Saturday that the Dragon Wagon passed a recent state inspection and an insurance review.


“I don’t know why it even happened,” Gilmore said then. “I feel very bad that children got hurt, and I’m really sorry about that, but there’s nothing I could do to prevent it.”

Michael Shepherd — 370-7652

[email protected]

Twitter: @mikeshepherdme

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