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Let's go to the fair: 103rd Sumter event starts Tuesday; security will be increased amid shootings

BY SHELBIE GOULDING
shelbie@theitem.com
Posted 9/20/19

As the Sumter American Legion Fair starts next week, authorities and fairground workers ensured the fair will be a safe and fun environment entertaining Sumter, Lee, Clarendon and Kershaw counties.

The 103rd rendition of the event will take place …

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Let's go to the fair: 103rd Sumter event starts Tuesday; security will be increased amid shootings

Posted

As the Sumter American Legion Fair starts next week, authorities and fairground workers ensured the fair will be a safe and fun environment entertaining Sumter, Lee, Clarendon and Kershaw counties.

The 103rd rendition of the event will take place Sept. 24-29 at the Sumter County Fairgrounds, 700 W. Liberty St.

"It's a safe, family-fun event that's great for all ages," said Peter St. Onge, fair manager. "We have arts and crafts, flower shows and pretty much everything for everyone to see. Whether you want to ride rides or just eat food, it's a great time."

With a recent increase in homicides connected to rival gangs in Sumter, the community have aired concerns about security at the fair.

After a briefing with the Sumter County Sheriff's Office and Sumter Police Department on Wednesday, St. Onge said law enforcement's presence will be increased at the entrance of and inside the fairgrounds.

"They have advised that they have everything under control," St. Onge said. "They will wand everyone who comes through, and they will inspect bags."

Metal detectors will be used, and the Sumter County Sheriff's Office asked that no one brings in oversized bags. If so, people will be asked to return it to their car.

"Due to everything that is happening in town, we're trying to put our citizens at ease," St. Onge said.

Adrienne Sarvis, public information officer with the sheriff's office, confirmed the agency will stage more security at the fair the in previous years.

She said the response is to community concerns, though there have been no noted credible threats to the specific event.

Rival gangs are thought to be connected to two recent shootings that have claimed the lives of four and injured at least three others. Two were killed during an eruption of gunfire at the Hop In/Sunoco gas station on Broad Street in the city on Sept. 8. One person has been charged with murder stemming from the incident, and five others have been arrested on outstanding warrants for unrelated incidents and for questioning on the situation.

Two others were killed on Wednesday in a drive-by shooting in Cherryvale that is also thought to be connected to the rival gangs.

With the reassurance of safety, St. Onge said he expects many to attend this year's fair. Just less than 25,000 attended last year.

For those who make their way to the fairgrounds, new acts this year include the Los Moralitos Circus. They will do a motorcycle show and acrobatics.

Rosaire's Royal pig race will join the fair for another year. St. Onge said they've been with the fair for four or five years now and are always a big hit.

Lance Gifford is returning with an event-long performance of magic and hypnosis show. He will also be doing a large show Friday and Saturday night.

The cattle barn is filled with more entries than last year, and the swine barn will hold the Five Star Petting Zoo and a rock-climbing wall for kids to enjoy.

The Sumter County Civic Center will hold a ton of entertainment this year, St. Onge said. There will be four commercial vendors, local entertainment from dance studios and bands and a presentation for local veterans on opening day, Tuesday, at 4:30 p.m.

The fair will be getting a new ride called The Avenger this year. St. Onge said it should be a popular ride this year as it's a larger thrill ride.

"It will be the anchor of the midway," St. Onge said, "so hopefully people will enjoy that."

Tickets can be found at public outlets like Piggly Wiggly, IGA and more.

This year, there will be a parking charge of $3 (cash only).

For more information on the fair, visit the Sumter Fair Facebook page or www.sumterfair.com. People can also call (803) 775-5200.

ADMISSION

Ages 1-5: Free

Ages 6-64: $8

Ages 65 and up: $5

Military/dependents with ID: $5

TICKETS

Ride all-day pass: $25

  • Ride all day passes sold until one hour before closing.
  • Saturday only, ride all day pass sold until 6 p.m.

Early bird special: $5 from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. on Saturday

Special event: $5 opening day on Tuesday