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State News

The organizers of the Florida State Fair confirmed big changes regarding children’s attendance

TAMPA, Florida – Last year, new rules were set for kids and teens wanting to go to “Family Day” at the fair: they must have an adult aged 21 or over with them.

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Previously, at the Florida State Fair, young people could go alone or with pals before 6 p.m. on what was known as “student night.” However, to reduce trouble, the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office changed the event’s name to “Family Day” and made it a rule that kids need to be with an adult.

Sheriff Chad Chronister said these changes were necessary after a tragic event in 2014. A 14-year-old named Andrew Joseph died on student day that year. He was hit by a car on the interstate in front of the fair after being one of 99 teens sent away due to disturbances.

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Following this, the Sheriff’s Office created a group with school officials, religious leaders, and school resource officers to improve safety. Sheriff Chronister mentioned that kids act better when familiar faces are around, like school officers or people from their church.

He pointed out that the new approach is effective. Two years back, on student night, 137 kids were expelled, and eight were arrested. But last year, on family night, only 56 were expelled for misbehavior, and two faced arrest.

On a recent Family Day, out of over 58,000 attendees, only three were arrested, with 14 being asked to leave. The arrests were for reasons not directly related to the fair, including existing warrants and a curfew breach.

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The Sheriff’s Office has over 270 officers on duty, including some undercover, to ensure everyone’s safety at the fair.

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