Georgia-Carolina State Fair increases security, sets new rule for teens

Friday, October 18, 2019
News 12 at 6 o'clock/NBC 26 at 7

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - The Georgia-Carolina State Fair starts Friday night in Augusta.

It's the 97th year for the fair, but this year there's an even bigger effort to keep everyone safe.

A new rule is forcing those 15 and younger to have a parent with them in order to enter the fairgrounds.

Fair organizers say it's been a conversation growing in the industry over the past few years. The Georgia-Carolina State Fair says it was time to follow that trend.

A fair is supposed to be all fun and games, and it is unless someone gets hurt.

"We had a little girl who was not accompanied by a parent try to get off a ride while it was in motion. She spent almost 30 days in ICU unit," said Joe Taylor, the fair organizer.

The incident happened at the fairgrounds years ago, but Taylor believes it wouldn't have if a parent was there.

He says too often parents just drop their kids off.

"At the ages of 9 and 10-years-old, and that's just not safe," Taylor said. "It's not safe for the patrons, and it's not safe for the kids."

Now, kids 15 and under can only enter with a parent. For those 16 and older, the fair will check for ID if age is questioned.

School IDs will be accepted, officials say.

"It may lower attendance, but it will enhance the pleasure and entertainment value for those who do come," Taylor said.

In the past two years, the Richmond County Sheriff's office responded to nine incidents during the fair, including four disturbances, one vandalism, and four listed as suspicious.

Organizers say there's more security this year.

"We hope that it will prevent a lot of that, yes," Taylor said.

But, fair organizers say the incidents didn't prompt the 15 and under rule.

The Georgia-Carolina State Fair expects more than 65,000 people over the next 10 days.

With the largest Ferris wheel ever in the fair and more rides than ever before, the focus is safety.