New security plan for upcoming state fair requires parental guidance at certain times, for certain ages

Published: Sep. 22, 2022 at 6:38 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - The state fair kicks off two weeks from today and state and local leaders say a new security plan will make it the safest fair to date.

Part of the plan is aimed directly at youth.

Agriculture Commissioner Andy Gipson said no one under the age of 18 will be allowed inside the fair past 9:00 pm unless they’re with an adult.

To enforce this, he said guests may have to show their ID to prove they’re of age before they get past an entry point.

“The fairgrounds is not here to babysit youth late at night who may get into bad activities,” Gipson said.

This new measure comes about five months after a group of teens fired shots at the Mississippi Mudbug Festival.

Now, eight different agencies on the state and local levels will enforce a number of other safety measures. All agencies will utilize the old armory building as a security command center.

“I want to thank our local law enforcement agencies, Hinds County Sheriff’s Office and Jackson Police Department, for their longtime partnership in keeping the Fairgrounds safe, and this year, I appreciate our State Troopers with the Mississippi Highway Patrol for providing assistance during the State Fair. State Troopers will be on site, and the Mississippi Highway Patrol’s Mounted Unit, for the first time, will deploy alongside the Hinds County Mounted Patrol. Also, the State Fire Marshal’s Office will have highly trained K-9 units on site. Multiple agencies including the State Capitol Police, Department of Homeland Security Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks, and Mississippi Agricultural and Livestock Theft Bureau will also be assisting with security and logistics,” said Commissioner of Agriculture and Commerce Andy Gipson.

Guests will go through metal detectors to ensure no one is bringing in illegal weapons and all bags will be subject to a check. There will also be a maximum bag size of 12″x12″x 6″.

“We’re not going to let a few bad actors ruin the Mississippi State Fair,” he said.

Additionally, a group of K-9 units with the state fire Marshal’s office will be on-site to detect any suspicious activity.

“This is my 17th Fair, and I can truly say that the plan that has been put together is the safest plan that I’ve been a part of in the last 17 years,” Chief Ricky Davis with the fire marshal’s office said.

Another part of this year’s security team is Capitol Police which, for the first time, will be headed up by its newly appointed chief, Bo Luckey.

Luckey said his group of officers has grown from 66 to just under 110, meaning the state fair won’t be Capitol Police’s only presence.

“We are still out there in the city, we are still covering our beats within the city, and we are also utilizing the efforts out in the city to help enforce the efforts here,” Luckey said. “What we have visible on the fairgrounds is not going to be all that’s here for Capitol Police.”

Commissioner Gipson said all these measures are ones that are in place at a number of other state fairs across the country. “Safety is a priority at the Mississippi State Fairgrounds. Our number one goal is to keep people safe as they enjoy a unique, family-friendly Mississippi State Fair experience,” said Commissioner Gipson.

Commissioner Gipson outlined the following safety measures that will be in effect at the 2022 Mississippi State Fair:

  • Beginning at 9:00 p.m., any guest under the age of eighteen (18) seeking admission to the Fairgrounds must be accompanied by a legal adult (21 or older). Any guest may be asked to show official proof of age to be admitted after 9:00 p.m. When entering the Midway, all guests will proceed through one (1) of the seven (7) entry security points utilizing a metal detector, and/or be subject to magnetic wanding.
  • All bags are subject to search. The maximum bag size that will be accepted into the Fair is 12″x12″x6″.
  • No outside food or beverage is allowed.
  • No marketing, soliciting, political, or vending items are allowed unless and as authorized under Fairground regulations.
  • No animals (other than service animals or as authorized by Fair management for Fair activities), banners, fireworks/explosives, or laser pointers are allowed.
  • Pursuant to state law, the legal carry of firearms by all lawful adults is recognized on the Mississippi Fairgrounds.
  • Exceptions and challenges to these policies will be satisfied at the discretion of Fair Management.

This year’s fair starts October 6th and runs through the 16th.

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