New security measures have been added at The Big Fresno Fair, and parents, children and law enforcement all appeared to welcome the changes on the first Friday night of the fair’s 2017 run.
“We’re just trying to provide the safest environment we can,” said Stacy Rianda, one of two fair deputy managers, “for all our patrons, employees, staff, vendors, everyone.”
It was Day 3 for the fair but the first night with the new security policies in effect.
Key provisions on Fridays and Saturdays require fairgoers to wear a wristband at all times and, after 7 p.m., that those younger than 18 will only be admitted if accompanied by a parent or legal guardian who is 21 or older.
However, Lauri King, a second fair deputy manager, said parents can leave their children to enjoy the fair once the child gets through the security checkpoint.
The wristbands are a way to show that people have been cleared through security and understand the rules of the fair.
Signs at the four main parking lots help ensure patrons understand the changes.
“These safety measures are making it so that people feel safer and more welcomed,” King said.
It’s so important for us that everyone person feels they can come out to the Fresno Fair and enjoy it.
Lauri King, deputy manager, The Big Fresno Fair
Eren DeLaCruz, who brought her four children Friday, said she feels good knowing that while she is at the Kiddie Land Carnival area, her older daughters will be safer as they walk around the fair.
“I’ve come numerous times and there has been fights and I’m blowing up (the kids’) phone,” DeLaCruz said. “I just want them to be safe, I think everybody should be safe.”
While officials did not point to any particular incident, there have been enough in recent years to prompt Rianda and the rest of the fair team to be proactive. The mass shooting last weekend at an outdoor concert in Las Vegas only reinforced that approach.
Fresno police Lt. Richard Tucker said Friday night was uneventful, “the best Friday officers have seen in years.”
The police presence has increased at entrances and exits and elsewhere within and outside the fairgrounds, Tucker said. The payoff for fairgoers, he said, is that people can enter feeling more relaxed about their safety and focus on enjoying themselves.
As many as 80 officers could be patrolling the grounds at any given moment.
DeLaCruz said she hopes the policies will bring “less violence, less gangs” and that parents are “actually paying attention to their kids.”
Daughter Mia Ayon, 15, agreed the policies are a good idea.
“It’s a better chance for them to be safe,” Ayon said of the requirement that children enter in the company of an adult.
She recalled that last year, a fight broke out in front of her. She was left “freaking out,” but is hopeful that this time around, there will be less of that.
Ultimately, fair management says, that’s all they want, too.
“We’re a community event, and we’re your community event,” King said. “It’s so important for us that everyone person feels they can come out to the Fresno Fair and enjoy it.”
If you go
The 2017 edition of the Big Fresno Fair runs through Oct. 15
- Gates open: Monday-Friday 11 a.m., Saturday-Sunday 10 a.m. Doors open at 9 a.m. Oct. 9 for senior and special interest day
- Gates close: Sunday-Thursday 11 p.m., Friday-Saturday midnight
- Tickets: Adults $12, children ages 6-12 $8, children 5 and younger free, seniors 62 and older $8 (free on Oct. 9), military with ID $8
- Parking: Chance Avenue parking lot, $15; Butler Avenue and the infield lots, $10; Maple/Butler and Cedar/Kings Canyon, $5
- Details: www.fresnofair.com