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Indiana State Fair to ban unaccompanied juveniles at night, limit size of visitors’ bags

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Fans of the Indiana State Fair always watch for the newest show or food each year.

This year, basketball is the theme for the fair. But, safety is the most important thing, said Anna Whelchel, the fair’s chief marketing and sales officer, in a statement. The fair’s website has a list of safety features.

The fair starting this year will ban unaccompanied minors, and limit the size of bags that can be brought to the fairgrounds.

A parent, legal guardian, or chaperone who’s 21 or older must accompany juveniles younger than 18 starting at 6 p.m. during the 18 days of the fair. The 2023 fair will run from July 28-Aug. 20, but be closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.

In another new safety requirement, those bags must be be 9-by-10-by-12 inches or smaller.

In comparison, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway limits the size of bags and coolers to 18-by-14-by 14-inches. At Walt Disney World, bags, coolers, suitcases and backpacks can be no longer that 24-by-15-by-18 inside the theme parks and water parks.

Plus, the metal detectors added during past years’ fairs at the gates to the fairgrounds will now also be used to scan bags that people bring with them.

The statement did not provide reasons other than “safety” for the changes.

Whelchel told News 8 during a press event at the fairgrounds on Thursday, “We’re constantly reviewing plans, watching what’s happening in the world, in the city, around the state. We’re absolutely making sure that we are, that we have a very, very tight, strong plan, and this year we are very confident in our strong plan.”

Indiana State Police Capt. Ron Galaviz told News 8 at the press event, “There will be a presence here. You will see troopers in the morning, in the afternoon, the evening, after close, things of that nature. So, we work very closely with our partners here at the State Fairgrounds and other local municipalities, county agencies as well, so we’re not going anywhere.”

The fair leaders say they average about 850,000 visitors a year.

Here is the complete list of items people cannot bring to the fair:

  • Aerosol cans.
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Banners, signs, or flags on poles.
  • Bicycles, tricycles or unicycles.
  • Foot-powered or electric scooters such as Bird, Lime, or Lyft scooters.
  • Skateboards, hoverboards, roller skates or inline skates.
  • Unmanned aerial vehicle including drones.
  • Animals such as pets and emotional support animals (service animals are allowed).
  • Balloons.
  • Beach balls.
  • Commercial audio-visual equipment.
  • Fireworks, sparklers or explosives.
  • Glass bottles.
  • Hard-sided coolers. Soft-sided coolers must meet the bag size requirement.
  • Illegal substances including drugs and paraphernalia.
  • Lasers.
  • Noisemakers.
  • Sticks, bats and poles.
  • Weapons, firearms and knives.

The fairgrounds is located northwest of East 38th Street and East Fall Creek Parkway North Drive on the north side of Indianapolis.