Fair officials call camo clothing "gang-related"; families turned away

Camouflage, camo
MGN Online
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Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2013

COLUMBIA, SC (WLTX) - Camouflage clothing can represent our military, outdoors and even make a fashion statement. Now it's causing some controversy with folks trying to get into the South Carolina State Fair.

"When I got to the gate, they told me they could not get in and I asked them why and the officer said because they had on camouflage," said Marie Harvin.

When Marie and William Harvin along with their seven sons got to the gates at the State Fair last Friday, they were turned away because their children were wearing camouflage pants.

"The officer told me that no one could get in because they have a dress code and no one can get in wearing camouflage," said Harvin.

The State Fair rules say "anyone wearing offensive or gang related clothing will be denied access to the fair."

We called the Richland County Sheriff's Department and Sgt. Curtis Wilson tells us "The RCSD is following the guidelines of the State Fair Association."

He went on to say "The fair is under the advisement of the RCSD gang task force that deems camouflage as gang related paraphernalia."

Garry Goodman with the state fair told us that "It has been determined base on the Richland County Sheriff's Department what gang related clothing is."

The Harvin's went to buy their sons new pants so that they could enjoy the fair, but it' still upsetting to them.

"When the parent is with the child I don't see how that can be a problem with them coming in," said William.

The Harvin's were not the only ones stopped at the gates over the weekend. Sonya Goodwin and some family friends from North Carolina were turned away because a teen who was with them wore "camo" shorts.

"He is a 14-year old, his pants where pulled up, he wore a belt, he didn't look like he would cause any harm and he was with both of his parents," said Goodwin.

Ironically Goodwin's group was at the fair to celebrate a family member's retirement from the Air Force. Goodwin feels like the rules don't apply to everyone

"We saw multiple people entering the fair at the same entrance that we came in with camouflage items on as well as shoes hats and shirts."

She says it is hard trying to explain to her children why they were turned away when they saw others wearing camouflage.

"It leaves a bad taste in your mouth, my kids wanted to go to the fair and now I am hesitant now about taking them back to the fair because rules are rules and it should be enforced across the board to everyone."