Benton — The Saline County Fair issues bans for both Saline County Sheriff Bruce Pennington and Bryant Mayor Jill Dabbs following an eventful opening night.
Around 7:30 authorities responded to complaints at the Tilt-a-Whirl where an unruly guest refused to leave after 87 consecutive turns on the ride which is designed to create a dizzy and briefly intoxicating feel for riders. Off duty officers from the Benton PD and the Saline County Sheriff’s office found former Sheriff Bruce Pennington arguing with the operator.
“He walked up shortly after opening, slipped me a $100 and told me to let him ride all night and not tell anyone,” operator John Carlisle tells us. “Somewhere around ride #60 or so I noticed between rides he began staggering while walking, a few rides later I saw him yelling at several young kids, finally around #70 I saw him vomiting all over the place. I asked him several times to consider taking a break or slowing down. All he would say was ‘I am fine, I drive like this all the time’.”
Pennington refused the authorities request to leave the Tilt-a-Whirl and eventually was forcefully removed. Pennington was held overnight in the Saline County Jail and was officially banned from the remainder of the fair. In an early morning statement Pennington said that it was all a misunderstanding and expects to see all his new friends at the Tilt-a-Whirl later tonight.
This morning the fair issued a statement saying in addition to Pennington, Bryant Mayor Jill Dabbs would also be banned from the remainder of the fair. Last night, Dabbs participated as a local celebrity game operator at the Water Balloon Race game.
An internal audit from the fair’s gaming operations found that Dabbs had tripled the entry price for the games. Dabbs then lowered the overall water flow to the water guns used in the event to 10% of normal power. As a result the game set record revenue numbers and managed to have no winners for the night. Dabbs was unavailable for comment, but her staff expects her to return from Tunica later in the day. We will update the story once we have a chance to speak with her.
This year’s Saline County Fair marks the first time since 2009 that the fair has had to ban individuals from the event. In 2009 former Saline County Prosecutor Dan Harmon was banned after his funnel cake stand was found to be using substances other than powdered sugar on top of the fried cakes.