Safety a concern at 2019 North Florida fair

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The 78th annual North Florida Fair started it’s first night of operation in Tallahassee Thursday night.

The fair features more than 50 rides, at least 40 games, and many vendors. There are also animal exhibits, arts and crafts, live entertainment, and much more. There’s something for everyone at the fair.

“This year, I’m expecting to have a good time, just because [of] the atmosphere,” Tallahassee native, Robert Mitchell, said. “I just want to enjoy myself with my friends that I don’t usually see outside of high school and catch up with them.”

With an abundance of fun and excitement, safety issues do arise. 

Between 2013 and 2017, several gun-related incidents occurred at or near the fair. Whether the parties involved in these incidences were licensed to carry concealed weapons or not, fair personnel is limited in keeping weapons off the fairgrounds. 

“We’re restricted by Florida law,” said Mark Harvey, Executive Director of the North Florida Fairgrounds. “Florida law says that if someone has a concealed weapons license, they’re allowed to carry concealed.”

However, the safety and security of fairgoers is a priority of fair management. Harvey has more than 25 years of law enforcement experience. Security is important to him, but he’s not worried about the security at the fair.

“That’s why we hire police. That’s why we hire private security,” Harvey stated. “We’re constantly scanning people. We have a security camera system located throughout the fairgrounds that keeps an eye on people.”

Despite some safety concerns, people still come to the fair as a way of connecting with each other. 

“I enjoy the rides the most,” said FAMU student, Anaya Thomas. “It’s different from going to the club, or some other place. It feels like we can connect with our childhood and innocence with the adrenaline… we all feel it together.”

Fairgoers can enjoy the rides, games, and food with the knowledge that their safety is in good hands. 

The fair will be open from Nov. 7-17, 2019. Each night features a different theme: Thursday was opening night; Friday night is Midnite Madness; Saturday is Youth/Senior Citizens Day; Sunday is Sunday Funday; Monday is Freedom Day; Tuesday is Two Buck Tuesday; Wednesday is Bogo Night; next Thursday is Carload Night; next Friday is Midnite Madness; next Saturday is Youth/Senior Citizens Day; and next Sunday night is Sunday Funday at the Fair.