Thursday, October 17, 2013
In response to recent incidents of violence elsewhere in our city, South Carolina State Fair officials are taking additional steps to assure the safest possible environment at the area’s most popular annual event.
“The safety and security of our guests is absolutely our top concern,” says State Fair General Manager Gary Goodman. “We haven’t seen any serious trouble at the fair, and we are determined to keep it that way.”
Everyone under the age 18 must be accompanied by a parent aged 21 or older to be admitted to the Fair after 7:00 pm. Anyone 18 and over may be required to show a valid driver’s license or other photo ID as proof of age to be admitted without a parent after 7 p.m.
Goodman also made it clear that the Fair has a long-standing policy of refusing admission to individuals wearing clothing, jewelry or accessories deemed “offensive or gang-related.” Included in that ban, on the advice of the Richland County Sheriffs office and the Columbia Police Department, are camouflage clothing and headwear.
The fair already employs metal detectors and the trained eyes of county sheriffs deputies at the entrance gates to screen out potential danger. In addition, 100 deputies and Columbia Police officers patrol the fairgrounds, inside and outside the fences – including many in plain clothes.
Deputies also rise above the crowd to watch for suspicious activities from “crow’s nest” observation platforms and dozens of surveillance security cameras monitor the entire fairgrounds around the clock.
Goodman insists the precautions are not to put a damper on fun, but to prevent or stop illegal and potentially dangerous behavior. “We want everyone, young and old, to have a good time,” he says, “but we have zero tolerance for actions or attitudes that frighten or endanger others. Anyone exhibiting that kind of behavior will be turned away, ejected from the grounds or even, if necessary, arrested.