Panama City Fair set to open this week

Bay County

PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) — Last week, the Mitchell Brothers came and set up a last-minute fair in the Panama City Mall parking lot.

The amusement company decided to set up shop when they saw the Bay County fair had been canceled, but permits and paperwork stopped them from opening their gates last week.

Mitchell Brothers owner, Gus Mitchell, said looking back, he may have been asking city and state officials to do a little too much too quickly when it comes to approving permits and scheduling safety inspections.

Mitchell said their stop in Panama City is because another state’s COVID-19 guidelines forced them to cancel that fair.

“Florida was a state that was accepting to outdoor gatherings and numbers of crowds with some guidelines obviously in place which we could follow,” Mitchell said.

Mitchell said they tried to open last week but because the state’s safety inspection was incomplete, the gates remained closed.

“On Friday, was the day we were ready for the inspection and a big rainstorm came up, cost us a couple hours there,” Mitchell said. “His day was done at 4:00. The regulations that are in place are for them reasons and we just ran out of time for him to do his job.”

Mitchell said another state inspection has been scheduled for Wednesday and Panama City City Manager Mark McQueen said once they pass the inspection, the city is ready to give them the green light.

“It’ll be a great opportunity for our citizens to decompress going into the Halloween weekend to be able to enjoy the amusements there at the carnival,” McQueen said.

McQueen said the inspection has to happen in order for them to be able to do business in Florida.

“They could not open given the situation because they would run afoul of their business opportunities within the state of Florida,” McQueen said.

Pending the state’s approval, Mitchell said he hopes the fair will open this Thursday at 5 p.m. and run through the weekend. He also said the fair will have up signage encouraging and recommending social distancing practices.

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