Who’s that in the sky? Why, it’s the Commissioner of Labor!

The title of Commissioner of Labor may not sound tailor-made for fun, but in the case of Cherie Berry, who serves in that capacity for the state of North Carolina, it has its moments.

On Thursday afternoon, Berry was at the North Carolina Mountain State Fair grounds in Fletcher, checking in with the inspection team from the N.C. Department of Labor charged with making sure the fair’s 48 amusement rides are properly certified for safety. North Carolina reportedly has one of the more stringent ride-inspection programs in the country. A handful of states don’t have them at all.

Readers will probably recognize Berry’s name: by law it’s emblazoned inside all elevators in the state, a guarantee that they’ve been assessed for their mechanical fitness and are not prone to Bruce Willis-style failures.

The crowning moment of Berry’s visit to the fair was her ride one of the one of the rides furnished by Michigan-based company Playworld Unlimited, Inc. Granted, Berry’s choice of thrills was the Giant Wheel, aka ferris wheel, and not the Super Shot, Tornado, Freak Out, Pharoah’s Fury or any of a handful of other really dire-sounding rides.

But Berry seemed to be having fun as the gondola she shared with N.C. Department of Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler was hoisted into the clear air. Minutes later, she returned to terra firma unscathed. Good thing, too. After all, the ride had been inspected by her staff. (Heads will roll, and all that.)

The Mountain State Fair opens Friday, Sept. 7. Look for a story in next week’s Xpress.

— Kent Priestley, staff writer

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