Last updated: August 29, 2017 - 5:05pm
BLOOMSBURG — The Bloomsburg Fair won’t allow any Nazi memorabilia at this year’s event, and it has banned protests on the fairgrounds as well, says its security chief.
While it hasn’t specifically excluded Confederate paraphernalia, the fair plans to discourage vendors from bringing it.
“We don’t need to offend our people. People are coming to the fair to enjoy themselves. We will not tolerate any distractions,” said Bill Barratt, superintendent of police and parking.
As private property, the fair has the ability to regulate what’s sold and done on its grounds, Barratt said.
“If they want to protest, they can do it out in the alley. We are prepared to deal with it,” Barratt said Tuesday.
Last year, a vendor sold a flag with the Nazi swastika at his stand, setting off a social media protest.
Barratt said the vendor hadn’t told the fair he intended to sell it. He was evicted from the grounds after it was discovered.
Soon after, fair security found he was a registered sex offender
To try to avoid a repeat this year, Barratt said the fair plans to conduct background checks on all concessionaires and vendors before they enter the fairgrounds.
It’s also tackling the issue of Rebel flags and other Confederate merchandise.
Barratt plans to poll flag and T-shirt selling vendors on what they intend to sell at the Fair. He’ll take his survey results to the fair board for discussion before the fair opens Sept. 22.
“Anything that offends our patrons, obviously the fair board’s not going to want them to do that,” Barratt said.
Barratt has seen Confederate flags and shirts displayed and on sale at other fairs this year. But he’s aware that Bloomsburg is viewed in a different light as one of the largest fairs in Pennsylvania.
“We were always concerned about it. We even had to remove some concessionaires who wanted to put names on their stands that were offensive,” he explained.
Security plans beefed up
The fair has done a lot of planning and training ahead of fair week, Barratt said.
Officials have compiled a manual on how to deal with threats or terrorism and have been training personnel.
The Office of Homeland Security reviewed those plans, Barratt said. It also conducted a threat assessment of the entire fairgrounds.
“I expect we’ll receive a high mark,” Barratt said.
Geisinger also plans to train fair workers how to apply tourniquets, Barratt said.
The fair has seen serious injuries in the past. In 2014, a man suffered a gash to his neck after getting caught in a cable wheel on the Sky Ride.
That worker suffered serious injury but survived. And Barratt recalled applying compression to the cut while seated in a golf cart awaiting a ride to the hospital.
Leon Bogdan can be reached at 570-784-2121, extension 1307, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.