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HCSO is taking extra steps to ensure safety is the top priority at the 12-day event.
As the Florida State Fair kicks off on Thursday, February 7, the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office is taking extra steps to ensure safety is the top priority at the 12-day event.
Sheriff Chad Chronister will be at the Florida State Fairgrounds Welcome Center(4800 US Highway 301 North, Tampa, FL 33610) on opening day at 6:30 a.m. to help "Flip the Switch," officially launching this year's Florida State Fair along with Governor Ron DeSantis and other state and local government leaders. The event will be followed by game inspections at 8:30 a.m. conducted by detectives with the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office and representatives from the office of State Attorney Andrew Warren. Inspectors will thoroughly analyze every attraction to ensure they are safe for the public, appropriately licensed and operate in a fair and honest manner.
Fairgoers will see many off-duty deputies and members of the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office Community Action Team (CAT) roaming the busy midway throughout the course of this year's fair. Sheriff Chronister has dedicated a large number of deputies, including school resource deputies and mounted patrol deputies, to help monitor Student Day in particular on Friday, February 8.
The "Skywatch" mobile observation tower will be used to provide deputies with multiple camera angles of the fairgrounds. Deputies will also be assigned to elevated observation posts above the crowd. Deputies will sweep the fairgrounds for any threats prior to the fair opening its gates.
"We want to be visible. We'll have deputies stationed from the parking lots to the midway, from Kiddie Land to Cracker Country, so anytime anybody needs assistance, there's always a deputy nearby to help," said Sheriff Chad Chronister. "We put a lot of time and effort into putting a safety plan in place months in advance, because we want every family to feel safe while they're having fun."
Families can take personal precautions at the fairgrounds as well by:
- Making sure your vehicles are locked and no valuables are visible through the windows
- Putting your cellphone in your pocket instead of holding it to avoid phone snatchers
- Keeping your purses and backpacks zipped tight and in sight
- Always walking in groups, including trips to restrooms
- Keeping an eye on small children
Sheriff Chronister added, "It's so easy for children to get separated from their families, so take a picture of each of your children with your cellphone before entering the fair. This will give you a current photo of them and what they're wearing. Tell your child that if they get lost, look for a deputy to help them."