Sheriff emphasizes safety as SC State Fair opens in Columbia

It's time again for the South Carolina State Fair.

COLUMBIA (WACH / AP) - It's time again for the

South Carolina State Fair


Gates at the fairgrounds in Columbia open at 3 p.m. Wednesday, and the fair runs through Oct. 21.

Fair officials are promoting a new ride called "Speed." Daredevils will be spun at 13 revolutions per minute 125 feet above the ground.

The fair also will include all of the typical agriculture displays, contests and games.

Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott

reminds those who plan to attend the fair to be "mindful of ways to avoid becoming a victim of a crime while visiting."

Lott says deputies will be working with the Fair Association to ensure the event is family friendly. There will be a command post set up at the backside of the grandstand and an additional post will be set up at the Health Building near the rocket for first aid and lost children.

Lott recommends going to the fair in groups, carrying small purses or bags and keeping the cash you carry to a minimum.

"One of the things that sometimes happens is that panic sets in where, "oh my gosh I can't find mom or dad ," have a plan for them show them where the rockets located or show them a law enforcement offcial. this is who you go to," said Lieutenant Rafael Gonzalez.

WACH Fox talked with some kids at the fair and asked them what they would do if they got separated from their parents.

"I would find somebody in a uniform and tell them that my parents were lost ," said 9 year old Zac Cowan.

Ten year old Jessica Gray, said "I would go up to the front to ask them to put you on the speaker and call your mom on the speakers, so that she would hear them and go to the front."

"My momma she always tells me if were lost at the fair go straight to the rocket! " said 11 year old Tryon Sharp.

"Find somebody in a uniform like a Medic, High Patrol or Richland County. Somebody wearing a uniform," said Jacob Cowan who's 10 years old.

Next to the infamous Time Warner Cable rocket there is a first aid and information post, where law enforcement will bring lost children.

The Richland County Sheriff's Department also has a command post right outside the Pepsi Grandstand where concerts are held.

Admission is $10 at the gate and $7 for people 55 and over. Children ages 2 to 5 are $2, while children under age 2 and military members get in free.

The State Fair has taken place in the same location south of downtown Columbia since 1904.

Tips from Sheriff Leon Lott to keep children and teens safe during the fair:

Tell your children to always ask you or the adult in charge for permission before:

- Going anywhere with anybody

- Leaving the group

- Going somewhere with somebody other than a uniformed officer or security personnel

Please make sure your children:

- Tell you where they are going

- Tell you how they are getting there

- Tell you who they will be with

Have a secret code word to be used in case of an emergency and someone tells you that you need to come with them, you can ask them for the code word.

Parents please check in with your young adults or have them check in with you periodically (cell phones can come in handy for this process) â?? just make sure if they are calling you that they set an alarm on their phone as a reminder.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)