State Fair beefs up security, changes tickets

LITTLE ROCK (KATV) - The Arkansas State Fair is beefing up security with new tickets and cameras in preparation for the nearly half a million people expected to attend this year.

The signature rides and games are ready to go for Friday's kick-off but fairgoers can expect to see some other changes before they even enter the grounds.

"It makes people feel safe and secure to come out here," said Ralph Shoptaw, general manager for the Arkansas State Fair.

With nearly half a million people attending the state fair every year, it's no surprise security is a top priority.

"Just to keep an eye on what's going on, to keep down an incidents that might happen," said Shoptaw.

This year there'll be 45 private security officers and 50 to 100 police officers from the Arkansas State Police, the Pulaski County Sheriff's Department and LRPD.

"There's probably more police officers here than probably anywhere you're going," said Lt. Carl Minden, with the sheriff's department.

But as organizers turn on the lights for the state fair Friday, they'll also power on the surveillance cameras that'll begin recording fairgoers' every move.

"They will be activated tomorrow when we open the doors," said Shoptaw.

Security begins at the door, literally. This year the fair is ditching older tickets for ones with bar codes.

"It's a real convenient thing," said Shoptaw.

It's true it is, when it comes to record keeping and being able to purchase tickets online. But it's also conveniently stopping what's become a problem in previous years.

"We have had in the past, occasionally, some tickets that have been reproduced," he said.

With the fair bringing in more than 3 million dollars a year and thousands of people, Shoptaw says organizers and authorities have every reason to make sure they get things right.

"It looks like a really big year," he said.

And the doors open at 11 a.m. on Friday.