Published: Oct 27, 2012 07:00 PM
Modified: Oct 27, 2012 04:21 PM
I have a four-letter word for the State Fair.
Im not talking about the constant buzz from thousands of people gathered in one place. The day my family chose to go, another 101,268 people also attended.
And Im not talking about the visual noise of the millions of lights on the multiple midways, although I did take offense with at least one vendors strobe lights. They were off-putting enough that I avoided looking in that rides direction.
Even the constant chatter from carnival workers trying to draw us in to play their games didnt bother me. And that includes the carnival worker who tried to argue I couldnt find a Pokémon stuffed animal cheaper than the $15 I would have to shell out for the possible chance to trade up to a 10-inch Pikachu. Have you ever heard of the Internet? Plus we found one later selling for $12 at one of the vendor booths.
What bothered me was the booming, constant, loud music competing from all the rides and games. My husband said I was being a spoilsport when I said I needed a break from the midway. He suggested I bring earplugs next year. What I might bring is a decibel meter.
Id like to think that fair organizers are monitoring the noise levels they can control. After all under Frequently Asked Questions on the fairs website, it states that pets arent allowed inside the fairgrounds because the noises, sounds and crowds are too much to ask a pet to endure.
Surely, organizers also are thinking about what their fairgoers and fair workers can endure. Yet there were some rides and games that we couldnt allow our kids and their friend to ride and play because the music was too loud. One area in particular was so loud that we all plugged our ears and moved as quickly away as possible through the throngs of people and that was without prompting from the mother hen. Even my husband acknowledged there should be a safe level of sound observed.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Preventions website, noise-induced hearing loss usually is caused by exposure to excessively loud sounds and cannot be medically or surgically corrected. It can result from one-time exposure to a very loud sound or from longer periods of listening to loud sounds.
How much noise is too much? Consider this: The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health lists a personal stereo system at high volume in the hazardous sound level category. At high volume, such a system produces 105 decibels, and the NIOSH recommends an exposure limit of five minutes before hearing protection should be used.
No wonder an employee of one of the Hamster Dance rides was being a grump and telling kids to sit still and stop shouting even though the whole point of the ride is to speed around inside a giant inflatable tube like a hamster. Shrieks from inside the floating wheel are a given as the kids tumble and roll. Yet who wouldnt be annoyed after several hours of screams and the nonstop soundtrack of Hampster Dance blaring in your ear?
Im not looking for quiet at the fair. But I would like fair organizers to turn down the volume.
Catherine Wright lives in Hillsborough. She does not think she has sensitive ears. Write to her at .