State Fair Expands Security, Highlights Entertainment

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People from around the state gathered for the 2015 Arkansas State Fair from Oct. 9 – 17 to enjoy the many rides, games, food and events that the fair offers.

Although the fair experienced mild rain on Friday, it still broke attendance records with 743,000 people attending within the two-week period.

With the State Fair’s crime history, several fair-goers expressed concern about safety. However, the fair had the Little Rock Police Department, the Arkansas State Police Department, the Pulaski County Sheriff’s Department and its own security force at the event.

“About three years ago, LRPD started patrolling the neighborhoods around the fair during the event,” Fair President and General Manager Ralph Shoptaw said. “Ever since then, we haven’t really experienced any problems.”

Shoptaw said LRPD has men on lifts and cameras watching the fairgrounds at all times.

“We also added the shuttle rides to and from parking this year, which I think makes people feel better about the surrounding areas,” Shoptaw said.

Sophomore Mia Killion said she never feared immediate danger while at the fair.

“I didn’t really feel unsafe at any point,” she said. “Sure, the area around the fair was kind of sketchy, but I parked in a gated area and was always near someone who worked for the fair.”

Once at the gates, fair-goers paid a $10 admissions fee. Along with the fair’s signature livestock competitions, pageants, rides and games, the entertainment for this year was more prominent.

“We really stepped up our entertainment this year,” Shoptaw said. “The shows were free with gate admission, so people came out just to see the shows.”

Shoptaw said Styx, POPevil, Grandfunk Railroad, Naughty by Nature and Montgomery Gentry brought high attendance. Other shows included Joe Diffie, Tony Toni Tone, Silk and Eddie Money.

“I never really thought of going to the fair for concerts before, so I was really surprised and excited when I heard about Styx,” Killion said.

Ride wristbands were $22 and food and games cost various amounts, but the fair offered several free attractions, such as Animal Alley, the Arctic Olympic High Dive Show, the exotic petting zoo, the Cyclone Wall of Death, Learning on the Lawn and the Barton Rock and Roll Museum. The Hall of Industry, where several local businesses set up to sell their merchandise, was also free to enter.

Competitions included several pageants, talent shows and wine competitions.

This article originally appeared in the Oct. 28, 2015 print edition of The Echo.

image via arkansasbusiness.com

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Editorial Assistant for Little Rock Soiree, Online Editor for The Echo and Public Relations Manager for UCA's Veteran Services. Always in need of a drink or two.

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