DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Final preparations are underway as the hours tick away until the opening of the 2019 State Fair of Texas on Friday.
Whether the draw is midway thrills, favorite fair foods, or simply the Texas-sized traditions, a couple million visitors are expected during the fair’s 24-day run at Fair Park.
“As the commander over the fair and as a representative of the Dallas Police Department, we are going to have a safe fair for you,” said Dallas Police Major Teena Shultz during a Tuesday afternoon briefing.
She says in spite of much-publicized staffing shortages within the department, the same number of officers have been assigned to protect the fair. And she says they are well aware that protecting large crowds now demands a different awareness.
“The biggest thing that we as commanders, we instill in the officers, is just being cognizant of different things that are going on,” Major Shultz said.
As in years past, officers will be intentionally visible.
However, State Fair safety staffers say employees have undergone additional training as well and they’re also asking visitors to do their part.
“We really encourage everybody to plan their visit,” says Jeff Cotner, Director, State Fair Security, while encouraging fairgoers to click here to review the list of prohibited items.
“So when they come through screening they won’t have a disallowed items, like a selfie stick that goes on a GoPro, that is not allowed.”
And even when the screams and terror are encouraged, safety is still a priority. The midway rides all receive multiple inspections prior to the start of the fair, and the safety checks continue each day during the fair.
“I go out there and hand pick every ride that comes in here,” says Rusty Fitzgerald, Sr. V.P. of Fair Operations. “The best equipment with the best operators. And stuff that I don’t have to worry about. If I have to worry about it, it’s not gonna be here.”
In an additional nod to changing times, a new clear bag policy will also be in effect for football games at the Cotton Bowl.