Officials: Fair and festival safety a priority after community concerns

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LINCOLN COUNTY, Tenn. (WHNT)-- Recent threats to Lincoln County businesses have community members on edge.

Some have contacted WHNT News 19, worried this could impact the county fair going on this week. While fair leaders say they take precautions if there's a threat nearby, they haven't had any incidents within the fairgrounds. And there's a plan in place to keep it that way.

"A lot of rumors going around, but we're wide open. We're enjoying the fair," said Randy Cowley, president of the fair.

He explained that security has been heightened because of the community concerns, just to be on the safe side.

"The Lincoln County Sheriff's Department has extra staff on hand, the city of Fayetteville has extra staff here, we are very well covered when it comes to security," he said, adding that deputies are monitoring things from a command post on the grounds as well as undercover through the crowds.

Plus, there are volunteers at the entrance to the fair to look for suspicious activity.

"The people on our gates have radios," he said, "so they're well-connected. Anything suspicious-looking, they'll call."

He says safety concerns brewing in the community have impacted attendance this year, and the fair's numbers are down from previous years. His bottom line: "It's safe. If it wasn't safe, we wouldn't be here."

Over at Redstone Arsenal's Oktoberfest, another activity happening in the Tennessee Valley this week, the sentiment is the same.

"The last thing we want is for one of our teammates to get hurt out there," said Colonel Bill Marks, Garrison Commander. He said HEMSI is on scene just in case someone needs help, and the Arsenal's emergency services and law enforcement are there too.

But they're also looking out for you after you leave the festival. Yes, beer is a given for Oktoberfest, but "when you're done doing that, take a taxi cab home," he said. "We've got them coming straight to the gate."