IMPERIAL, Calif. – Aside from the usual carnival games, rides and food, this year California Mid-Winter fair-goers might notice something different.
Metal detectors at the main entrance and hidden cameras, fair organizers are focusing on more security.
“Cameras strategically placed throughout the grounds so when people come to the fair they will be on camera we ask them to smile,” said fair CEO Theresa Garcia.
She says cameras can provide useful information. For example in the case of a child getting separated from their parents.
“Real valuable tool for the most common problem we have is when the kids get separated from their parents,” she added.
Garcia says local authorities are responsible for the fair security, “We work with ICSO (Imperial County Sheriff’s Office) to provide security all ten days all hours of operation.”
Besides ICSO, other agencies will also contribute in making the fair a safe place for families.
“We have various agencies here assisting the sheriff’s department on certain days,” Garcia says.
Garcia explained that basic emergency plans are in place, “We have first-aid here and we have evacuation plans that have been posted. We certainly want to plan for the worse if we ever need to use it.”
Officials say close communication between all security groups is key, “Radio communication among the security and the sheriff’s department and the admin and the command post with IID (Imperial Irrigation Distric).”
Event organizers say there have been no major issues in the past eight years.
“No problems in recent years and we’re all thrilled about that,” Garcia said.
But just in case, fair-goers are urged to contact security immediately if they see anything that doesn’t seem right.
“You should go to a security guard dressed in yellow or go straight to the security command post here at the north end,” Garcia advised.
El Centro senior Vernell Holmes said she feels safe at the fair.
“Officers around here talk to you, ask questions, ‘How you doing? Have a nice day’ – they appreciate the seniors,” Holmes said.
And although unusual, organizers want people to know the metal detectors are there for them and their families to have fun and be worry-free.
“Just like you do at the airport, try to streamline things so that we can get you in and have a good time,” said one official.