Organizers prepared when shooting happens steps from Santa-Cali-Gon festival

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INDEPENDENCE, Mo. -- Independence police are continuing to investigate a weekend shooting that happened just steps from the carnival at Santa-Cali-Gon Days.

It's hard to beat the deep-fried deliciousness of deep fried fair food.

“The secret is the batter. You don’t have the right kind of batter, you don’t have a good funnel cake,” a volunteer said.

The 46th annual festival wrapped up Monday evening. But on Saturday night, just steps from all the games and greasy goodness of Santa-Cali-Gon Days -- violence.

That night, just as the event was ending for the evening, three people got into a fight on South Liberty Street. One bullet lodged into the side of an RV. Thankfully, no one was hurt.

But festival organizers said it's a situation they prepare for every year.

“The safety of our attendees is the number one priority of this organization. We have an emergency preparedness plan. We work with our local law enforcement officials and have a command center on site,” said Tom Lesnak, president of the Independence Chamber of Commerce.

There are also more than 200 volunteers on foot and in golf carts, carrying radios and always looking for potential problems.

“We’re ready for anything that kind of comes at us,” Lesnak said.

Festival-goers seemed unphased and impressed by on-site security.

“I have seen more security guards walking around. I didn`t know about the shooting. It doesn't really bother me. It`s just part of living in the city,” said Joel Merritt, who was attending the festival with his wife and son.

That protection is important to the family friendly reputation of Santa-Cali-Gon Days.

This year, the festival attracted 300,000 visitors and hosted 300 vendors with 500 booths, which is the biggest turn out in a decade.

With the addition of the Uptown Farmer’s Market, organizers are looking forward to keeping this community tradition alive.

“Very few communities can boast a festival of this nature and the longevity of it. I think there’s years where people say, ‘Gosh, are we going do this again?’  Absolutely, no question! We’ll be back for No. 47!” Lesnak said.

So you can mark your calendars for Labor Day weekend next year.

As for that shooting, so far, there have been no arrests.  If you have any information about it, call Independence Police.

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