Organizers of the Maryland State Fair say security and safety are of the utmost concern, in the wake of recent mass shootings at so-called soft targets across the country.
“We try to make it a safe environment. That’s our goal — making people safe so they can enjoy themselves at the fair,” said Andy Cashman, the state fair’s general manager.
The 138th My Maryland State Fair opens Thursday evening at the state fairgrounds in Timonium, about 21 miles north of Baltimore. Organizers expect more than 500,000 visitors over the fair’s 11-day run.
Metal detectors and security personnel will be stationed at all entrances. In addition to all types of weapons, prohibited items include drones, fireworks, duffle bags, selfie sticks, hoverboards and alcoholic beverages.
Purses, small backpacks, camera bags, diaper bags and strollers are permitted but subject to a search by security personnel.
About 60 Baltimore County Police officers and security guards will roam throughout the more than 100 acres of the fairgrounds.
Mr. Cashman said that, in preparation for this year’s fair, the safety and security team underwent about 25 hours of training and the entire staff undertook a three-hour training session on safety a couple weeks ago.
What’s more, the Baltimore County Health Department is inspecting all of the food handlers before the fair to make sure everything is up to code.
In addition, the Maryland Amusement Ride Safety Advisory Board inspects all the rides before and during the fair to make sure everything is functioning safely and properly.
Mr. Cashman said the event also has its own inspectors who work during the fair to ensure that operators and vendors are doing their jobs.
The fair will run from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. through Labor Day with a variety of activities such as a dog show, a concert series, craft beer and wine garden, and an escape room.
The focus on safety and security comes in the aftermath of mass shootings in different parts of the country.
On July 28, a 19-year-old cut through a fence at the Gilroy Garlic Festival in California and began shooting an AK47-style rifle that he had purchased legally in Nevada. Police engaged in a shootout with the gunman within a minute of the start of his rampage, in which he killed three people and wounded more than a dozen others.
On Aug. 3, a gunman opened fire with a semiautomatic rifle at a Walmart store in El Paso, Texas, killing 22 people and injuring 24 others. Patrick Crusius, 21, of Dallas, is accused of capital murder in the shooting, which federal law enforcement officials regard as domestic terrorism.
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