The Minnesota State Fair is one of the largest in the country, with a whopping 1.8 million in attendance over 12 days last year. That means that on any given day visitors are rubbing (sticky) elbows at the “Great Minnesota Get-Together” with about 150,000 other people.
The good news is that the Minnesota State Fair takes its security measures seriously. In fact, last year security was beefed up at the gates, and bag searches and video surveillance were added. But visitors are ultimately responsible for protecting themselves, their families and their valuables.
Erik Bergling, CEO of EPG Security Group, has provided security services for large events like Rock the Garden and the Eaux Claires festival for more than two decades, and he is an expert on crowd safety and securing large groups. “The biggest thing to remember about security and safety is the common sense factor,” said Bergling. “If you remember that, you’re golden.”
Here are some of his tips for ensuring safety in numbers at the State Fair:
- Identify the exits. Sometimes the best way to prevent injury (or worse) is to leave before things get out of control. If you do happen to get caught up in a chaotic situation, you’ll be thankful you know exactly where to go.
- Dress appropriately. Baggy clothes, untied shoelaces and sandals can get caught on equipment or snagged on amusement park rides. While looking good and keeping cool are important, also give some consideration to safety as you choose your outfit for the fair.
- Pay attention to structures. The fair is full of temporary structures like vendor booths, shelters and staging. Keep an eye on what you are leaning on or walking under to avoid unintentionally collapsing a tent, tripping on a cord, etc.
- Avoid the crowd. Plan your visit early in the morning or later in the evening to avoid crowds. If you happen to be there during peak times, avoid large groups by walking around them rather than trying to push your way through. If you are stuck in a crowd, walk sideways or diagonally to get out.
- Protect your valuables. Limit the valuables you bring to the fair to your ID, cash, one credit card and a cell phone (fully charged with ringer and vibrate on), and keep them in your front pocket if possible. Choose a purse or crossbody bag with a zipper or clasp closure.
- Keep an eye on the kids. Write your phone number on your child’s arm with a Sharpie or put it in his or her pocket. Make sure kids know whom they should talk to if they are lost. Pick a place to meet up if you get separated and make sure everyone knows where it is. Consider dressing similarly or in bright colors, and use your cell phone to take a photo of the kids before you leave the house so you know exactly what they look like that day.
- Ask for help. The Minnesota State Fair engages hundreds of security professionals to ensure crowd safety. If you need help, don’t be afraid to ask—that is what they are there for.
About EPG Security Group:
Based in Minneapolis with networks extending worldwide, EPG Security Group is independently owned and is the third largest veteran-owned business in Minnesota. Clients range from large public festivals to small private events, from restaurants to hospitals, from entertainers and sports celebrities to politicians and private individuals. For more information, visit EPGSecurityGroup.com.