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Extra security measures added for Minnesota State Fair

Updated: August 20, 2019 10:18 PM

In a matter of hours, the Minnesota State Fair will kick off and preparations of all kind are underway.  

Fairgoers will have plenty of new food, new attractions and new items to consider purchasing during the 12-day run. 

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In an effort to keep visitors safe, there will be additional security precautions too. 

Virtually everyone and everything passing through any of the 11 gates to get into the fairgrounds will be screened in some fashion.

"When you get right down to it, when it comes to security the best place to focus on is prevention," said general manager, Jerry Hammer.

Hammer said additional officers have been added and there will be a larger security force at entrances. There's been more training of staff, more staff hired and the number of security cameras has increased.

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For vendors hustling to set up, that means ID checks and vehicle inspections to get on the grounds for set up. 

"I think just because we are vendors at the fair, we shouldn't be treated any differently than anyone else," said Bridgette Stewart.

When it comes to everyday traffic and parking for the rest of fairgoers once the fair begins, access has been altered. 

"What's allowed, what's allowed where, what type of vehicle, direction of traffic, that kind of stuff," said Hammer.

Cathy Driver is an artist and longtime vendor. She paints mailboxes by hand and sells them. 

"At any kind of festival like this there is every walk of life, every type of person comes into to visit us," she said. 

Driver welcomes all fairgoers and said Tuesday she understands the need to be prepared for anything, anytime hundreds of thousands of people are in one place at the same time, whatever the emergency. 

"I worry more about things like the weather, we've had bad thunderstorms come through this festival and that can be very worrisome," said Driver.

Hammer emphasized the stepped-up precautions aren't in response to a specific threat, just overall safety for everyone at the fair, whether an employee, vendor or visitor.  Although the State Fair has its police force, it collaborates with city, county, state and federal agencies to create a comprehensive "emergency plan."

There are some things visitors should leave at home, such as weapons, fireworks, alcohol, drones, skateboards and hover boards.

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Beth McDonough

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