JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The folks at Greater Jacksonville Agricultural Fair are making sure the only thing that scares you at the fair … is some of the rides.
“This year we’ve pulled out all the stops,” fair marketing vice president Gayle Hart told First Coast News Friday just hours ahead of the fair’s first of two weekends in town.
“We have surveillance cameras strategically placed throughout the fairgrounds,” she said, confirming that safety measures include some old and new, some seen and unseen.
“You will see cameras that are out in the open, and there are some that you don’t know are there.”
Indeed, several multi-lens cameras are in plain sight to those who look upward, perched on poles about 20 feet tall. Hart says the cameras are unprecedented at the annual fair.
“Because of just the nature of what’s happening in our United States,” she said, referring to many recent violent and deadly attacks at crowded events and places. Hart said the lighthearted nature of the fair shouldn’t be confused with lightweight security.
“You will be watched if you act up,” she assured.
That surveillance begins at the gate, which itself has been upgraded for safety and efficiency.
“This year we’ve decided to expand this gate (the main Gate One) on this side of the fairgrounds,” said operations vice president Bill Olson, “to try to get the people in a little bit faster.”
That includes seven entry lanes, up from four last year, each equipped with a ‘magnetometer’ portal device similar to those at airports and public buildings. The greater number allows fairgoers speedier entry combined with less-rushed security.
“We’ve added to that to make sure that we can check packages, backpacks, everything that comes into the fairgrounds,” Hart added.
Speaking of which, weapons, of course, are not allowed. Neither are masks, face paint (except among very young children), food, or drink. But keep in mind, this is an agricultural fair, which means there’s not only plenty to learn about farming and foods, there’s no shortage of delectable treats to eat on the inside.
There will be plenty of police presence as always because as always the end goal is fun without fear.
“We just felt like we didn’t want people to feel frightened of anything,” Hart said.
The Greater Jacksonville Agricultural Fair runs through Sunday, Nov. 12 at Jacksonville Fairgrounds.