A deputy escorts two men out of the State Fair Saturday night. (Source: Nelson Dowdy)
COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) -
Officials with the South Carolina State Fair are wasting no time in dealing with what many believe is an increase of violence at this year's festivities.
Following a night of several incidents, including assaults and fights, the organization responsible for the annual fair has decided it must adjust its admission policy and dress code, and increase law enforcement presence to try to curb the chaos.
Fair General Manager Gary Goodman says they experienced unprecedented problems Saturday night with approximately 30 people being arrested or detained. Many of them were teenagers 13-14 years old, Goodman said.
Goodman says many of those who were allegedly causing trouble had been "fighting" or "pushing people down."
Because of the chaos and complaints from those who have been attending the fair, Goodman says the admission policy has been altered.
Starting Tuesday, those who are under the age of 18 must have a parent aged 21 or older with them if they wish to enter the gates after 7 p.m. A similar policy was in place, but it allowed a parent or guardian to be accompanied by more than one child under the age of 16.
The fair also says 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 after 7 p.m.
At the advice of law enforcement, those wearing camouflage clothing and headwear may be refused admission.
Goodman says the fair will also employ additional security this weekend, adding 20 deputies to bring the total of officers at the fairgrounds to 100.
Richland County Sheriff's Department spokesman Chris Cowan was also on hand to back up Goodman in his new plan.
"What's happening is they're going down there in small pockets, the pockets are combining and looking for trouble. They're walking around looking for rival gangs and trying to cause trouble, and it's not going to be tolerated," said Cowan.
The changes, according to Goodman, will cut into the fair's revenue, but he says the safety of the patrons is more important.
Sunday, March 9 2014 9:32 PM EDT2014-03-10 01:32:37 GMT
Three men were killed after a small airplane crash-landed in a Hartsville neighborhood Saturday. Authorities received the call that the plane had crashed around 7 p.m. between two houses about one mileMore >
Three men were killed after a small airplane crash-landed in a Hartsville neighborhood Saturday. More >