State and County Fairs Increase Security Measures in Wake of Mass Shootings

State and County Fairs Increase Security Measures in Wake of Mass Shootings

Fair organizers in New York, Los Angeles and Wisconsin are responding to safety concerns with assurances that their events are well-protected.

Following a series of mass shootings that have made many Americans fearful of being gunned down in public spaces, law enforcement officers and private companies are reassessing the security measures in place at state and county fairs across the country.

The Wisconsin State Fair kicked off last Thursday, just a few days before mass killings in an El Paso, Texas Walmart and a Dayton, Ohio bar took over 30 lives and injured dozens of others. A gunman previously targeted a food festival in California on July 28, killing three attendees before being shot and killed by police.

The fair’s CEO, Kathleen O’Leary, told WISN-TV that the events were “unthinkable.”

“Large event organizers should always be thinking about that,” O’Leary said. “Safety and security is always at the forefront of everything we do.”

O’Leary’s event, held in West Allis, has its own police force of more than 100 officers to respond to critical incidents and 400 others who staff the metal detectors at the fair’s entrances. There are also more than 200 security cameras being monitored at a command post, according to WISN-TV.

"From a reactive standpoint, we're not adding anything at this time,” O’Leary said. "Every measure that we could possibly take to ensure the safety for our fairgoers has been taken."

Organizers of the Los Angeles County Fair, which lasts from Aug. 30 to Sept. 22, say they are stepping up their security measures this year as they prepare to welcome over 1 million attendees. The nonprofit that operates the fair, Fairplex, spent $200,000 to build a command center in the Pomona fairgrounds where police, fire officials and other staff can coordinate emergency responses, The Los Angeles Times reported.

“In light of the environment, we’ve made significant investment to make sure our guests and employees are safe,” Miguel Santana, Fairplex’s chief executive, told the Times. “We always take security seriously but we’ve made a deliberate effort to strengthen our security system.”

Santana added that extra video cameras have been added to monitor the fair’s perimeter along with more metal detectors and a badge-scanning system for employees and contractors entering the grounds. Security forces for the fair also recently conducted a training exercise to practice responding to a mass shooting similar to the one that took place in 2017 at a Las Vegas country music festival, claiming 58 lives and wounding 422 others.

With the state fair in New York just two weeks away, fair organizers say they will have more than 250 active security staff on hand. Attendance averages just under 100,000 people per day, according to Syracuse news station CNYCentral.

The fair’s director, Troy Waffner, said his team has been preparing all year long to prepare for the event, during which the staff monitors social media activity and manages an emergency operations center.

“It’s something we think long and hard and plan for and test,” Waffner told CNYCentral. “You put together an emergency preparedness plan and it really just sits on a shelf and it shouldn’t. We test ours multiple times a year to really drive the message home to how you react if something does happen.”

He added: “I always say, during the 13 days of the fair, the New York State fairgrounds is the best protected and best-mobilized 375 acres there is in the country, probably, with the amount of law enforcement we have here.”

About the Author

Haley Samsel is an Associate Content Editor for the Infrastructure Solutions Group at 1105 Media.


  • Survey: Less Than Half of IT Leaders are Confident in their IoT Security Plans

    Viakoo recently released findings from its 2024 IoT Security Crisis: By the Numbers. The survey uncovers insights from IT and security executives, exposes a dramatic surge in enterprise IoT security risks, and highlights a critical missing piece in the IoT security technology stack. The clarion call is clear: IT leaders urgently need to secure their IoT infrastructure one application at a time in an automated and expeditious fashion. Read Now

  • ASIS International and SIA Release “Complexities in the Global Security Market: 2024 Through 2026”

    ASIS International and the Security Industry Association (SIA) – the leading security associations for the security industry – have released ”Complexities in the Global Security Market: 2024 Through 2026”, a new research report that provides insights into the equipment, technologies, and employment of the global security industry, including regional market breakouts. SIA and ASIS partnered with global analytics and advisory firm Omdia to complete the research. Read Now

  • President Biden Issues Executive Order to Bolster U.S Port Cybersecurity

    On Wednesday, President Biden issued an Executive Order to bolster the security of the nation’s ports, alongside a series of additional actions that will strengthen maritime cybersecurity and more Read Now

  • Report: 15 Percent of All Emails Sent in 2023 Were Malicious

    VIPRE Security Group recently released its report titled “Email Security in 2024: An Expert Look at Email-Based Threats”. The 2024 predictions for email security in this report are based on an analysis of over 7 billion emails processed by VIPRE worldwide during 2023. This equates to almost one email for everyone on the planet. Of those, roughly 1 billion (or 15%) were malicious. Read Now

Featured Cybersecurity


New Products

  • FEP GameChanger

    FEP GameChanger

    Paige Datacom Solutions Introduces Important and Innovative Cabling Products GameChanger Cable, a proven and patented solution that significantly exceeds the reach of traditional category cable will now have a FEP/FEP construction. 3

  • Unified VMS

    AxxonSoft introduces version 2.0 of the Axxon One VMS. The new release features integrations with various physical security systems, making Axxon One a unified VMS. Other enhancements include new AI video analytics and intelligent search functions, hardened cybersecurity, usability and performance improvements, and expanded cloud capabilities 3

  • A8V MIND

    A8V MIND

    Hexagon’s Geosystems presents a portable version of its Accur8vision detection system. A rugged all-in-one solution, the A8V MIND (Mobile Intrusion Detection) is designed to provide flexible protection of critical outdoor infrastructure and objects. Hexagon’s Accur8vision is a volumetric detection system that employs LiDAR technology to safeguard entire areas. Whenever it detects movement in a specified zone, it automatically differentiates a threat from a nonthreat, and immediately notifies security staff if necessary. Person detection is carried out within a radius of 80 meters from this device. Connected remotely via a portable computer device, it enables remote surveillance and does not depend on security staff patrolling the area. 3