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A safe Fair environment

Security proves important aspect of successful annual event

    Today is the last day of the Kiwanis Ogeechee Fair, and traditionally, the last night is the biggest night as far as the crowd goes.
    That means the fairgrounds will be crowded tonight, but the Statesboro Kiwanis Club and the Bulloch County Sheriff’s Department are prepared to handle the masses.
    The Fair is a family event, and it will remain a safe, family-oriented entertainment venue, said Fair Chairman Darrell Colson.
    Sometimes, when visitors come from other counties, they aren’t aware of the measure of security at the Kiwanis Ogeechee Fair. Some may get ideas about improper behavior, but it gets nipped in the bud before it blooms.
    “We won’t put up with any fighting,” Colson said. “We will have the Sheriff’s Deputies escort you off the grounds. This is a family event.”
    Bulloch County Sheriff Lynn Anderson said his crew will be out en force tonight.
    “The main things we won’t tolerate are weapons of any kind, and any drinking or drug use,” he said. “Most people, if we can tell they’ve been drinking or are otherwise intoxicated, we will escort them out and give them the opportunity to have someone drive them home.”
    Otherwise, violators will be escorted to jail, he said.
    Extra deputies will be in the parking lots and inside the fairgrounds, looking for unruly behavior, fighting, “or anybody causing a disturbance,” he said. “We want to keep it a family atmosphere.”
    But so far, deputies and Kiwanis members have not had to deal with any major issues.
    “It’s been a very quiet week,” he said. “We only had to escort one person out. There have been very large crowds but they have been very orderly.”
    The number of visitors has risen and midway sales have increased drastically, Colson said. Since school has been out in Bulloch County this week, he thinks fairgoers have been coming out all week instead of waiting for the weekend.
    He said he is pleased with the increase, the way the Fair week has been quiet and pleasant, and hopes this last night will continue the trend.
    “We will have extra deputies and Kiwanis members out as well, and there will be undercover deputies as well,” he said.

 Offering assistance
  While deputies are watching for potential trouble, Kiwanis members are keeping an eye out, too.
    But the job of security means more than that, said Bob Lanier, assistant Fair chairman.
    He and other security folk make sure the gates are manned so people don’t slip in without paying. They open exhibits and close them up at night, and mainly, they are wherever they are needed.
    “We make sure we show a presence,” he said. “We maintain visibility, and that deters problems.”
    He also expressed satisfaction with the way the Fair week has gone.
    “We’ve been very fortunate,” he said. “It’s been very safe and we’ve had very few minor incidents, which is what we strive for.”
    Dan Foglio, who also works on the security committee, said club members also help by assisting folks, especially elderly people, who cannot remember where they parked. He and others also have assisted elderly visitors by driving them to their cars, and jumping dead batteries.
    The security folk also make sure the people manning pass gates, working in the parking lots and in other areas are fed and provided with drinks, he said.
    Driving around the fairgrounds, he points out suspicious behavior and said visitors and carnival workers are also quick to find a club member (wearing yellow shirts and easily identifiable) when potential trouble lurks.
    “This is a group effort,” Lanier said. “This is a collected, coordinated operation.”
    The Fair opens today at 1 p.m., and wrist stamps will be sold all day for $18, which enable bearers to ride any ride, as many times as they wish. The fairgrounds will be closed and no one admitted after 10 p.m. The Fair will close at midnight.

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