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INDEPENDENCE, Mo. — Changes are coming to the SantaCaliGon Days Festival in Independence next month.

Those attending the festival will be required to buy a wristband or ticket to enter the area where the carnival is held. The only exception is for adults acting as chaperones for those under the age of 18 who don’t plan to ride.

Unlimited ride wristbands are on sale for $25 per day through 11 a.m. Sept. 2. After that time, wristband prices will jump to $35.

Another change to this year’s festival is that backpacks and large bags will not be allowed in the carnival area.

The carnival will be completely fenced with the only access at the corner of Kansas Avenue and Liberty Street near the ticket booth.

“The safety of our guests, entertainers, volunteers, and staff was our primary concern when making this decision,” said Tom Lesnak, Independence Chamber of Commerce president. “Enforcing these changes is imperative to hosting this large community event.”

The changes come a year after a shooting at the festival injured four people. The safety changes are in line with what Independence leaders called for following the shooting.

“In working with the Independence Police Department and city staff, we’re putting in safety guards we’ve never had before,” Lesnak said.

Lesnak said along with police, the festival will have its own security on the grounds. The Independence Chamber of Commerce said they also have 400 volunteers trained on what kind of suspicious behavior to look for.

“They’re walking around, looking for issues, trying to address any hotspots before it becomes a major issue,” Lesnak said. “Really, the goals is to keep everyone safe so they come here, they have a good time and they can feel safe when they bring their families to SantaCaliGon.”

Organizers want to remind people about the “See something, say something” text line that will be monitored during the festival.

“We want them, if they see something that doesn’t look right, that looks unusual, they can reach out to us, they can reach out to IPD, which has staff on the ground, on the festival grounds. So we can address an issue before it becomes a problem,” Lesnak said.

This is the 50th year for the SantaCaliGon Days Festival. It will be held over Labor Day weekend, starting Sept. 2. The Independence Chamber of Commerce is expecting more than 300,000 people to attend. 

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