Metal detectors coming to Coastal Empire State Fair - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Metal detectors coming to Coastal Empire State Fair

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SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) -

What comes to mind when you envision a trip to an old-fashioned state fair – funnel cakes, carnival games, a carousel?

Try a metal detector.

That's what visitors will walk through at all gates to the 2013 Coastal Empire State Fair.

The Exchange Club of Greater Savannah puts on the fair and is installing the metal detectors after eight people were injured in a shooting on the midway last year.

Organizers also are searching bags at the entrances and have put up security cameras around the property.

Metro police are setting up a mobile command center at the fair.

Fair organizer Mike Lariscy says an increased police presence makes him feel safer. So does a 97-count indictment gang that came down last month. The District Attorney's office says the fair shootings stemmed from gang rivalry.

Lariscy said while there's no way to account for every possibility of violence, the Exchange Club has made big strides.

"I hope this is a once-in-a-lifetime thing for us," he said. "I will promise you this. I think it will be far more difficult for a group like that to enter the grounds this year."

The Exchange Club listed the fairgrounds for sale several months ago. The property still is on the market.

Fair organizers say they're considering moving the fair to western Chatham County to expand it and bring back livestock.

This year, they've brought in a dozen new carnival rides to draw in fairgoers. They'll be operated by a new carnival company, the same one used for the Georgia State Fair.

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