Fights at Jacksonville fair prompt safety concerns

By: Larry Spruill , Action News Jax

Updated:

Read: Teen shot leaving Jacksonville Fairgrounds, police say

Officials have increased security at the Jacksonville fair after reports of several fights.

There haven’t been as many people attending the annual Greater Jacksonville Agricultural Fair this year and managers believe it's because the event is getting a bad rap.

“I don’t think it’s fair that the fair is getting a bad name," Gayle Hart with the Jacksonville Fairgrounds said. “We’re trying our best to make everyone feel safe." 

Hart said safety is the No. 1 priority at the fair, but the latest incidents seem to be overshadowing their efforts. 

Fair management is aware of a fight involving young adults that happened last weekend. A viewer sent Action News Jax video of the brawl.

“A kid jumped another kid, right in front of me at my feet, and then other kids jumped in,” Hart said. 

An 18-year-old told police he was leaving the fair when he was shot in the back. Several other cars were hit by gunfire.

Hart said the shooting did not happen on the fairgrounds despite rumors saying otherwise. 

“No, it’s erroneous, absolutely erroneous to say that it happened on the Jacksonville Fairgrounds,  that is so not true,” Hart said. 

Video posted to social media showed two fights outside the fairgrounds in 2016.

An 18-year-old was arrested after police said he hit a juvenile in the back of the head at the Jacksonville Fair.

Thursday, Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams told Action News Jax his department is making sure fair-goers are safe.

“When we have a public event like the fair or something that’s privately driven or for profit ... we do a security analysis on what they need to provide, or what they need for security. They pay for that,” Williams said. 

Hart said management increased security after the fight. They have installed more cameras throughout the park and have had more officers walking around. 

Mark Wray said he appreciated the extra security Thursday night.

“I feel absolutely, completely safe. I feel safe walking around,” Wray said. 


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