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How deputies ensure RRVF carnival games are winnable

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WEST FARGO, N.D.—From throwing darts at balloons to tossing rings in a bottle, the sometimes painfully difficult carnival games are back at the Red River Valley Fair.

Are they designed to be winnable at all? WDAY-TV found out how deputies inspect these games every year to make sure.

Big prizes like hoverboards, and small mopeds may seem too good to be true.

One kid was seen struggling with 'Game of the Year,' trying to guide a metal ring down a twirly metal pole without touching the sides. Much like the hit board game 'Operation,' an alarm beeps if the metal touches.

With eyes on the big prize, he became one of the many who think these games cannot be won, even when the vendor proves otherwise.

"So they'll come up to our deputies and say, 'Hey I don't think that this game is fair, it's impossible to win at this game," described Captain Jesse Jahner with the Cass County Sheriff's Office. They handle law enforcement at the Red River Valley Fair from set-up to take-down.

The deputies say they test all of the carnival games before opening day.

They ask the vendors how the game works, what the goal is and make them prove it's winnable.

Attorneys from the county help with these inspections.

"Law enforcement is looking to see what prizes they're giving out, making sure nothing illegal is being given out," said Tracy Hines, a Cass County Assistant State's Attorney.

Captain Jahner showed WDAY-TV how he would test one of the games of chance. "By lifting the fish," he said. "On this particular one it's a number one."

Some games, like a toy fishing pond, guarantee a prize every time you play.

"This one is more of a skill game," Captain Jahner said. "As you can see I've got the hoop up there, and the object of this one is to get the basketball through the hoop, so..." He tried shooting for the high basket but hit the left side of the rim.

Even if their basketball skills aren't like Air Jordan, they at least make sure the hoop is big enough for the ball to fit.

"All of the games are winnable," Jahner said. "But of course, some of them are more challenging than others."

If you think you've come across an impossible challenge, deputies encourage you to let them know.

Just remember, they've all been inspected by a legal team and passed.