Two Northern California festivals are stepping up security in wake of mass shootings

In the aftermath of three mass shootings across the country that began at the Gilroy Garlic Festival on July 28, organizers for two fairs close to Sacramento announced they would increase security measures for the events.

Both the Yolo County Fair and Lodi Grape Festival will have heightened security, according to coordinators for the celebrations.

The efforts reflect a national conversation of safety at public events, which were refreshed after a gunman opened fire during the annual Gilroy festival. Two more shootings followed days later at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, and in an entertainment district in Dayton, Ohio.

The combined shootings left nearly three dozen dead.

Yolo County Fair CEO Bart Vannucci announced in a statement this week that the team was partnering with the California Highway Patrol, in addition to having local law enforcement on the grounds in Woodland.

Vannucci also wrote that security personnel will “wand our guests at entrance gates and check for knives and firearms” upon entering the festival. The designated two entrances are a change from years past, when guests could enter anywhere on the fairgrounds.

“These new steps may take a little more time to come in and start having fun and corn dogs, but we are doing all we can with multiple wanding lines at each entrance,” Vannucci wrote, continuing that the team’s pre-Gilroy plans to increase security were reinforced after the shooting.

“Please be patient with us if it takes more time than what you are used to; these extra precautions are necessary to ease tensions that our guests might have about attending larger public events,” he wrote.

Lodi Police Department Capt. Sierra Brucia also announced this week that the agency is stepping up safety plans for the Grape Festival, according to the Lodi News-Sentinel.

“You always get a few questions after something like Gilroy happens,” Brucia said. “Knowing that something like that can happen anywhere gets on people’s minds. They want to know if we’re prepared to handle those kinds of situation. We are prepared, and we’re always preparing.”

Brucia said a drone could be used for overhead surveillance and that the department might use patrol rifles at the event.

“We continue to do these things, and we always have, in order to ensure the community is safe,” Brucia told the newspaper.

The Yolo County Fair begins Aug. 14. The Grape Festival begins Sept. 12.

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Hannah Wiley joined The Bee as a legislative reporter in 2019. She produces the morning newsletter for Capitol Alert and previously reported on immigration, education and criminal justice. She’s a Chicago-area native and a graduate of Saint Louis University and Northwestern.