New security measures in place for final weekend of Jacksonville Fair

Fair organizers say recent events led them to make safety changes

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – New security measures were in place to keep people safe when the final weekend of the Greater Jacksonville Agricultural Fair kicked off Friday night. 

Last weekend, gunshots were fired near the fairgrounds downtown. But fair officials were already stepping up security before the incident happened.

Fair officials told News4Jax that recent events led them to make some changes this year. One of those changes included adding cameras surrounding the fair to help law enforcement officers keep an eye out. 

From outside the fairgrounds to the middle of the crowds, security this year is more visible than ever.

The increased security is good news for everyone attending, including parents doing their best to watch over their young children. 

"They don’t leave my side. That’s the only one that leaves my side, just to go on the rides," fairgoer Mollie Bracht told News4Jax.

Bracht said she noticed the increased law enforcement presence this year more than previous years.

"It was actually pretty good security," she said. "They have firefighters and policemen everywhere."

For fair organizers, recent violence around the country, and around the world, have made an impact.

"I think people are very cautious of what they’re doing," said Gayle Hart, with the Greater Jacksonville Agricultural Fair. "I think that events that have happened within the past few weeks, the past few months, the past year, have made people more cautious about where they go out in public."

From increased police presence to added metal detectors to new cameras, Hart said, it's all about preserving a beloved tradition. 

"Because we’re trying to make memories here, for your family, for your young children, because everyone has a fair, " Hart said. "Everyone grew up with their own fair in their community."

Fair organizers said things have gone smoothly so far this year.

If fairgoers see anything suspicious, they're asked to report it to police or security officers.

For more information on fair events, entertainment and tickets, go to jacksonvillefair.com or call 904-353-0535.