Carnivals and Fairs

The days are getting longer and the temperatures are rising, which means it’s almost carnival and fair time. Carnivals and fairs are a lot of fun, but they also present unusual risks that must be effectively managed. To help you ensure a safe time for all, please consider the following recommendations.


The use of carnival rides and mechanized equipment are a few of the activities that represent higher risk.  For this reason, if you are using these devices, it is critical that you obtain proof of insurance coverage from the vendor/operator. Request a Certificate of Insurance that names your parish/school and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Lafayette as additional insureds for the scheduled event. The certificate must show evidence of general liability insurance of at least $1 million, commercial auto liability of at least $1 million, and proof of workers’ compensation. Other vendors who will not be using vehicles on your property should still show limits of $1 million for general liability and show proof of workers’ compensation. In either case, the Diocese of Lafayette and your parish/school shall be listed as additional insureds.

Make sure you contract with a company that is licensed and reputable. It is also a good idea to check references of the last two or three clients for whom the company did work. Be wary if the company is not willing to provide recent references. 

When using vendors, always insist on a contract and be sure it includes a Hold Harmless and Indemnification clause, which protects your parish/school and diocese from claims resulting from the contractor’s services. In its simplest form, the clause states, “[Contractor] shall defend, indemnify and hold harmless [your parish/school], the Roman Catholic Diocese of Lafayette from any and all actual or alleged claims, liability, loss, damage and/or injury arising out of or incident to any acts, omissions, negligence or willful misconduct of [contractor] and its personnel, employees, or agents.” If the contract does not include a hold harmless and indemnification clause you may copy and paste the example statement into the contract, or add the clause as an addendum to be made part of the contract.

Don’t forget to obtain all the necessary town/city permits, where applicable.

Fun Jumps and Bounce Houses

Kids love to play on fun jumps and bounce houses. These inflatable devices are a crowd pleaser; however, like carnival rides, they present a risk of serious injury. The Office of Risk Management has established relationships with a few area companies who are willing to provide the appropriate insurance requirements and will list both the Diocese and your parish/school as additional insureds. Feel free to use the vendor of your choice, but make sure you obtain an insurance certificate. If your vendor is unable to provide insurance, please contact the Office of Risk Management for a referral.

Staffing Considerations

  • Assess your staffing needs and resources; make certain you have recruited enough staff and volunteers.
  • Allow sufficient time for training prior to the event, and be sure all volunteers and staff members are familiar with safety rules and guidelines.
  • Make sure that during the event at least one staff member or volunteer is trained in CPR and first aid. Make certain first aid equipment is centrally located and contains basic supplies, including a portable Automated External Defibrillator (if your parish/school has one).
  • Your volunteers should have fun too! Rotate shifts at regular intervals to make sure all can participate in the festivities.  For best supervision results and to allow your volunteers to enjoy the event, try to limit shits from 30 minutes to an hour. 

Food Safety/Hygiene

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, foodborne illnesses increase during the summer months, mainly because people are cooking and eating outside at places like fairs and festivals. The usual safety controls that a kitchen provides may not be available when cooking and dining at these events. It is important that you educate staff and volunteers to take food safety steps that are necessary to prevent illness:

  • Try to cook-serve, which means limiting the amount of food preparation performed offsite. The CDC publishes a booklet to help volunteers prepare and serve food safely for large groups, such as church dinners and community gatherings. The booklet is available in English and Spanish. Please see the Resources section below to download the booklets.
  • If using a food vendor, please obtain a Certificate of Insurance. See the Certificate of Insurance section for more details.
  • Include portable potties and hand washing stations in your plans.
  • Be sure to include additional trash receptacles and assign volunteers to routinely empty.  This will go a long way to keep your facilities looking good and reduce trip and fall hazards.

Site Safety

  • In advance, designate a staff member or volunteer to document any incidents or accidents that occur during the carnival or fair.
  • After the site is set up and before the carnival is open to the public, take photos of the grounds with the rides and vendor stations intact. Alternatively, use a paper and pen to map out the stations. In the event of an accident, the map or photos will be helpful in documenting where the details of the accident.
  • Access to the site should be controlled and vehicles should be restricted.
  • Proper lighting is essential. Be sure grounds and pathways have adequate lighting at night.
  • Look out for things that may obstruct pathways and cause tripping hazards, such as extension cords and stakes that are not placed properly in the ground.
  • Require that emergency plans be posted, along with the phone number and directions to the nearest hospital emergency room.
  • To prevent theft of funds, ensure that two or more people remain with the cash box at all times.

Post Safety Reminders

Insist that your carnival ride vendor post any important safety reminders prior to getting on the ride and any safety reminders when getting off and or exiting the ride. It is recommended that you include this requirement as part of the agreement.

Setting Up/Taking Down

  • When setting up or dismantling, use appropriate equipment that is in good condition, such as ladders with all the rungs intact.
  • Never stand on the top rung of a ladder. If more than half way up a ladder, make sure there is a second person on the ground holding the ladder secure.
  • Check and inspect dollies before use.
  • Be mindful of proper lifting techniques: keep the load as close to your body as possible. Let your legs do the work. Straighten your back, lifting from your legs, not your back.

Accidents and Injuries

As mentioned in the Site Safety section of this article, it is good practice to designate a staff member or volunteer to document any incidents or accidents that occur. Please make sure accidents and injuries are reported as soon as possible. See our Report a Claim tab for more information on general liability and property claims.

Contact Catholic Mutual at 1-800-228-6108 to report any injuries or property damage. 

In the event an employee is injured, contact LWCC at 1-800-395-0303.

If unsure, contact the Office of Risk Management at 337-735-9449, or for emergencies, call 337-303-3689.


Cooking for Groups - A Guide for Volunteers

Cooking for Groups - A Guide for Volunteers - Spanish Version


© 2015 Bree Publishing