Security Changes to Prevent Violence at Drew Expo in Roanoke

Roanoke, VA - Big changes are in the works for Roanoke's longest running annual attraction - the Drew Expo.

It's scheduled for May 15.

In recent years, fighting has been a big issue, and the promoter and civic center management has had enough.

Management decided to make some security changes. They say it's necessary after last year when several hundred youths and young adults went on a rampage that included a number of fights.

The violence was, that it even spilled across the street, where dozens practically stormed the McDonald's forcing management at the restaurant to call 911 for help.

The exposition's promoter, Jan Wilkins, says, among other things, a strategic plan has been developed with the police that will see a 40 % increase in officers on site. They will also position their mobile command center at the site with the same senior officer calling the security shots for the whole five day stand.

A fence will also be erected around the entire carnival.

"We're not here to be ugly. We want to treat people well but if some people are rotten apples and they don't treat other people well what can we do," said Wilkins.

If things don't go well again, there's a strong chance the Expo will not be back.

A running three year contract is the norm, however because of last year, that contract has yet to be renewed and this is the last year on the agreement.