SAN JOSE (KPIX) — It’s been a South Bay tradition for 75 years but this year’s Santa Clara County Fair has the new look of increased security.
“I feel sad but it’s the times. You have to do that,” said fair-goer Cruz Samaro.READ MORE: 4 San Jose Double Homicide Suspects Arrested; Drugs, Weapons Seized
Vistors to the Santa Clara County Fair will go through a wanding process as they come in which could result in a longer wait at the gate.
“Yes, it was a long wait but we’re happy that way because we feel safe,” said Alex Samaro, who said he’s been coming to the fair for years.
Thursday’s grand opening celebrated the fair’s 75th anniversary but it came just four days after the Gilroy Garlic Festival shootings.
County officials say they quickly came up with a new security plan which greatly increased the number of officers fair-goers will see and many they won’t.
“We won’t be going through all the details but we’ve done everything that we can possibly do to make sure that everyone at the fair is safe,” said Jeff Smith, the Santa Clara County Executive.
Teams of well-armed deputies are on foot, motorcycles, ATV’s and golf carts. They’re patrolling the perimeter and contract security guards are posted around the fences.READ MORE: Police Arrest Suspect in Tenderloin Stabbing Incident
But the sheriff acknowledged the difficulty of securing the whole 157-acre site.
“It’s very difficult to secure something 100 percent when it’s in an outdoor environment but the deputies will be in the perimeter and roving in many many places,” said Sheriff Laurie Smith.
Increased security means increased costs — in this case to the sheriff’s and county budget but many other smaller festivals in San Jose are concerned about the future impact of increased security on their much-tighter budgets.
“Running security is the third largest line item in our budget,” said Dan Orloff, a board member of the Fountain Blues and Brews Festival, a one-day festival at Plaza de Cesar Chavez in June.
Organizers say the cost of more police officers and private security is something they will pay.
“Increased security doesn’t threaten the festival. A poorly-run festival threatens the festival,” Orloff said.MORE NEWS: Update: 3 Injured In San Jose Stabbing; Suspect Fatally Struck By Truck On Highway 85
The Santa Clara County Fair will run through Sunday at the fairgrounds on Tully Road. Organizers expect crowds of 45- to 50 thousand through the weekend.