Expect Increased Security Inside Iowa State Fair

The Depot employee Garrett Manwarren unloads a sign at The Depot on Grand Ave at the Iowa State Fair on Tuesday, August 8, 2012. (David Purdy/The Des Moines Register)


By Aaron Hepker

DES MOINES, Iowa —The Iowa State Patrol is stepping up its presence inside the Iowa State Fair, and officers said they want fairgoers to be part of the team when the event starts Thursday.

The vendors already line the Grand Concourse, while organizers said the skyride waits for passengers and 66,000 pork chops on a stick are on order for the pork tent.

"The guys started (Monday) afternoon at 4 o'clock," said Dana Wanken, of the Iowa Pork Producers.

The grills are ready to go, but organizers said it will take another full day to be fully ready for the thousands of people who will flock to one of the biggest state fairs in the country.

"We are going to have an increased presence, both uniformed and non-uniformed presence, throughout the 11-day period of the fair," said Jim Saunders, head of intelligence of the Iowa Department of Public Safety.

Saunders declined to say how many extra officers will be in the fair, but he said the team studied up on where officers should be placed and how many will be around.

"We've done quite a lot of research with regard to the patterns of people moving in and out of the fair," said Saunders.

"Certainly, the Boston bombing has heightened (the) awareness of potential issues at events, and we just want to be proactive," said Lori Chappel, of Iowa State Fair Marketing.

The bombings at the Boston Marathon killed three people in April, which is why fair organizers want people to be on the lookout for anything suspicious, like an unattended bag, a random vehicle or someone acting strangely.

"People shouldn’t just walk away from it and ignore it. They need to make notification to law enforcement security that there is a potential issue, and then we can send people to investigate it," said Saunders.

People at the pork tent said they're happy to take part in law enforcement's "See Something, Say Something" campaign to protect Iowans and their icon.

"We've never had any trouble, really, around here," said Wanken. "Let's hope it doesn’t happen. I don’t want it to happen."

In addition to extra staff, all bags will be subject to search at the gates and Grandstand entrances.

Saunders said there is no specific threat to the Iowa State Fair.

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