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Kile wants wet T-shirt contests to hit dry spell

Sheriff Mike Kile says he’s going to do everything he can to make sure no more wet T-shirt contests are held in Screven County.
“I don’t like them. I don’t think it’s right to have them. I don’t think it’s good for Screven County,” he said. Kile said he got three complaints from area ministers about a wet T-shirt contest held at the Savannah River Dragway on Saturday, May 9.
Kile said he was at the dragway, which is at the Screven Motor Speedway on Highway 21, that night but did not see the contest take place. He said witnesses told him that two women in the contest briefly exposed their bare breasts.
A photograph from the event, posted at the Screven Motor Speedway’s Web site, www.screvenmotorspeedway.com, shows a topless woman.
Kile said five off-duty sheriff’s deputies were working security at the speedway that night, like usual, and that there was no fighting and no trouble. He estimated about 1,000 people were there that night to see the drag races and that only about 200 people watched the wet T-shirt contest, along with a bikini contest and Jell-O wrestling.
Kile said entrance that night was limited to people age 18 and older.
The speedway’s Web site said admission was $20 and that the wet T-shirt contest offered a $1,000 prize. “Parents are encouraged to find ya a baby sitter for this one!” the site read. “This is an adult party folks!!! It’s gonna get wild!”
Speedway owner James “Redd” Griffin, of Springfield, said he was trying to raise money to pay $11,000 in property taxes on the speedway. “I had a party,” he said. “I was trying to pay for the place and for my property taxes.”
Asked if he plans to hold similar events in the future, he said, “I don’t know if we’ll do it again.”
“If this had been Savannah or Augusta, this wouldn’t have been a big deal,” Griffin said.
Screven County has an ordinance that would allow a bikini contest but not a wet T-shirt contest or bare breasts, said Hubert Reeves III, county attorney. “It’s just a matter of enforcing it,” Reeves said. “It can be enforced.”
Kile said he didn’t try to prevent the event from being held because he didn’t know details about the ordinance before the contest started. Citing someone for indecent exposure while they’re on private property, at an adults-only party, is a tricky legal area, he said.
The sheriff said there was no trouble at the raceway that day and that’s typical. “For the amount of people he’s had over the years, we’ve had very, very, very little trouble,” Kile said. “He hires enough security.”
In addition to the off-duty sheriff’s deputies, state troopers make sweeps through the speedway to make their presence known and to try to head off any possible trouble, Kile said.
The speedway doesn’t sell beer, but patrons are welcome to bring their own, as long as they don’t bring glass bottles. They’re also encouraged to camp overnight for free. “Come on out,” the Web site reads. “Party and stay safe all night.”
Stan Sheppard, chairman of the Screven County Commission, said he favors enforcing the ordinance against wet T-shirt contests and bare breasts. “I would hope that their business as a race track could survive without adult entertainment,” Sheppard said.