Our state fair is a safe state fair. That’s the message the Wisconsin State Fair wants to project, after a bad scene on opening day last year threatened to taint the fair experience, when white fairgoers were attacked and harassed by a mob of black youths. There were some thirty arrests. The fair’s Kristi Chuckel said they got proactive, which meant stepped up police presence at State Fair Park. Following a year’s worth of monthly meetings, the stepped presence of Milwaukee and West Allis Police will continue, along with the Wisconsin State Patrol and State Fair Park police. “I think that’s the most important thing, as well as the fact that we also have more cameras, new cameras on the ground that we can monitor 24/7,” said Chuckel, the fair’s Marketing and Media Relations Manager.
The new youth admissions policy, which was implemented in response to last year’s opening day violence, remains in place for the 2102 fair. No one under age eighteen will be admitted to the fair after 5:00 PM, unless accompanied by a parent or guardian over age 21. The State Fair Park board voted last year to keep that policy in place. One hundred newly hired security personnel will check IDs and bags at the gates. Despite the problems and resulting negative publicity, the fair saw an increase in attendance last year. “I do think the increased police presence and security presence helped people feel safe for the remaining ten days of the fair,” said Chuckel. “We’re really grateful that people still come out and support the fair, and we want them to know that it’s a safe place, and hope they come again this year.” The 2012 Wisconsin State Fair begins its eleven day run on August 2nd.