Stephanie Fernandez, 22, was enjoying a Saturday evening at the Miami Dade County Fair with her family, waiting to buy a gyro, when she heard screaming and saw many confused expressions. Then everyone around her started sprinting.
“I noticed a group of individuals running towards the fair’s exit; hearing several people cry “gun” and seeing scared expressions prompted me to follow suit,” Fernandez said.
According to police, a group of children started rushing around the fairgrounds, alarming other attendees.
The MDPD Twitter account at first declared the incident a false report. “We are aware of reports of an incident at @miamiyouthfair. There is no credibility to these reports or threats to public safety.” But later authorities stepped up their presence, saying there had been multiple “incidents.”
A week before, on Sunday, March 18, the 71st Miami-Dade County Fair & Exposition had opened for 21 days of family-friendly excitement, including more than 80 rides and favorite dishes like cuban funnel cake sandwich, bacon pineapple burger and pickle lemonade.It concluded this past weekend.
This year’s theme was “World of Fun.” It featured activities that take place all around the world. The fair had something for every person to appreciate, whether you’re a traveling foodie, or just aimlessly wandering.
There were 16 new food items at the youth fair this year, ranging from a deep-fried milkshake to a Mexican street corn pizza, which was available at various food truck sites.
Sarah Ortiz, 23, joined her family in attending this year’s fair. It has been an annual tradition ever since she was born.
“The fair holds many fond memories for my family and I,” Ortiz said. “I’ve been coming to the fair before I could even say my first words.”’
Ortiz tried almost every new food item in this year’s fair. She describes herself as more of a foodie than one who likes rides.
“The deep fried milkshake intrigued me and I just had to try it,” she said. “I can honestly say it was delicious.”
The day of Sebastian Alvarez, 27, had arrived at the fair the afternoon of the first incident and up until that evening, had been having a great time with friends, riding the various rides and eating the fair delicacies.
Alvarez was shocked by the turn of events.
“I had just gotten off the ride, Crazy Mouse, when I just saw everyone around me running towards the front of the fair,” Alvarez said. “My instinct was to run as well.”
The Miami-Dade Police Department said that additional security measures would be put in place at the Tamiami attraction, located at 10901 SW 24th St.
In order to keep an eye on big crowds, the police department increased the number of officers roaming the fairgrounds and keeping watch from observation towers. Before entering the fair, bags had to be checked.
The MDPD Twitter post said, “We will not accept any rowdy or disruptive activity that puts others in danger.” These people will be deported from the fairgrounds immediately and/or detained for criminal activities, according to the statement.
— Miami-Dade Police (@MiamiDadePD) March 31, 2023
The Miami Dade Youth Fair ended this past Sunday, but will be back again next year.