BIFFO AT BANGALOW SHOW
By HANNAH ROSS firstname.lastname@example.org
SECURITY arrangements at the Bangalow Show will be stepped up next year following a night of teenage brawling and antisocial behaviour at the annual community event on Saturday.
According to police, a 13-year-old girl was hospitalised after drinking most of a bottle of vodka and collapsing outside the showgrounds.
Police detained 14 drunk youths, calling the parents of nine and taking five to Byron Bay police station because initially the teenagers refused to reveal their identities.
Scuffles and fights broke out throughout the night, both inside the showground and in surrounding streets. Show president Michael O'Meara copped a split lip and bloodied nose when he was set upon by a group of about 10 youths.
Mr O'Meara said the youths came and surrounded him about 15 minutes after he had been involved in an altercation with a young man who had been urinating in full view of the public at the back of the A & I Hall.
He said one youth was abusing him, when out of nowhere came a punch that almost knocked him to the ground.
"It was more of a shock than anything. I'm just disappointed these kids don't seem to have any respect. We are trying to run a family-oriented community event."
Another Bangalow A & I Society committee member, Billy Holmes, was also bruised and shaken after he was roughed-up on Saturday night by a group of youths.
Mr O'Meara said before the show the Society had heard rumours a fight was planned for 10pm on Saturday night at the showgrounds.
In a bid to avoid trouble, two additional security staff were called in so a total of six bouncers were manning the event. The Society shut the show down at 9.30pm on Saturday.
Byron Bay police duty officer Owen King said at one stage 12 officers were deployed to the showgrounds, taking resources away from Byron Bay and Mullumbimby.
Inspector King said Bangalow suffered because it coincided with the end of school for Year 10 and Year 12 students. Insp King said despite the trouble, no arrests would be made as the youths' behaviour was antisocial rather than criminal.
He said the behaviour of some youths at the show had even prompted some side-show alley business owners to rule out attending the show at Bangalow next year.
Police have already met with representatives from the showground to find ways to avoid similar problems next year.
Insp King said entry points to the showground needed to be limited, alcohol needed to be contained to one specific area and a fence erected around the entire showground. Mr O'Meara said the Society would be applying to Byron Shire Council for funding for the fence.
He said he was hoping the community would help the Society find solutions to keep the Bangalow Show a fun, family event.