Kern County fairgoers can expect food, fun and heightened security at the county fair this year.
The Kern County Fair board of directors has decided to install metal detection equipment at all three primary entrances to the 2019 Kern County Fair throughout its 12-day run. The fair's management expects more than 425,000 people to pass through its gates this year.
The metal detectors will cause delays for people entering the fairgrounds, but it's in the name of safety. Fairgoers will be asked to allow extra time for security personnel to operate the detection equipment, including wanding devices, as they search to ensure no weapons of any kind are brought into the grounds, said Cmdr. Ian Chandler of the Kern County Sheriff's Office.
"The process (of getting into the fair) is going to be longer," Chandler said. "It's going to be a learning curve."
"We are working with (the) local Sheriff, Bakersfield Police Department and Emergency Services to make sure we deliver a 12-day event that is safe and secure," said Mike Olcott, CEO of the Kern County Fair.
Chandler said security will be specifically looking for firearms, as the potential threat of a mass shooting lingers over the fair and, indeed, all large public gatherings.
"The Sheriff's Office, on the law enforcement side of it, is prepared for any situation," Chandler said. "We have been for several years. I can confidently tell everybody right now that they're as safe as they can be."
Not only will law enforcement be inspecting the fair's normal entry points, they will also be checking the perimeter and fencing "frequently," Chandler said, to make sure nobody is able to breach barriers, as was the case at the Gilroy Garlic Festival shooting this summer.
"We want to make sure our guests have the same great experience they have enjoyed for many years," Olcott said. "We are working closely with our law enforcement partners and are taking precautions that this is a safe place to come and enjoy all the fair has to offer.”
The fair is scheduled to run Sept. 18-29.