BLOOMSBURG — The 158th annual Bloomsburg Fair starts in just over three weeks and this year fair officials are stepping up security.
Fairgoers are no longer allowed to bring guns and there will be new security measures at the gate.
In addition to not being allowed to bring guns onto the Bloomsburg Fairgrounds, volunteers will search all backpacks, large purses, and strollers at the entrance. Bloomsburg Fair officials say the increased security comes after the Boston Marathon bombing and Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.
Bill Barratt oversees security at the Bloomsburg fair. He says this year the board of directors will take extra security precautions such as banning people from bringing guns onto the fairgrounds.
“It’s something that the fair board was pressured to do. We want to make it safe for all fairgoers and concessioners.”
Barratt says there has never been an incident at the fair involving a gun but this is what the Department of Homeland Security recommended after the Boston Marathon bombing and the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
In previous years, you could just walk right into the fair after paying, but Barratt says this year there will be volunteers all lined up here at each of the six entrances checking strollers, large purses, and backpacks.
“We’re hoping that the people aren’t going to be too upset with us. This is going to happen in the future everywhere you go,” Barratt said.
Barratt says the Berwick police department will show fair staff how to spot portable meth labs in people’s bags. This is another safety precaution so people do not buy and sell methamphetamine on the fairgrounds.
Some people have mixed emotions about the gun ban.
“If somebody’s got a permit to carry a gun, they’ve already gone through the background check and everything,” said James Deroba of Bloomsburg.
Many people say they will feel safer with the new security precautions.
“I don’t think you should be allowed to have guns at the fair. It’s dangerous. You don’t know what people are going to do,” said Eric Horowitz of Bloomsburg.
“It’s their right to have them and I’m not going to say take them away from anyone, but I would prefer not to have guns around me and my children,” said Martin Rosenkranz of Bloomsburg.
In addition to the increased security, Bloomsburg Fair officials say they will ban knives as prizes at the fair.
Fair officials say these safety precautions are not to take away people’s rights, they are to make the fairgrounds safer.