Sheriff's security prep before Fair

NEWTON. While the public gets ready to enjoy the NJ State Fair in August, law enforcement prepares behind the scenes to keep everyone safe.

07 Aug 2019 | 05:02

By Laurie Gordon

The 2019 New Jersey State Fair and Sussex County Farm & Horse Show kicks off on Friday, Aug. 2, and for 10 days there will be lots of fun-filled family frivolity, entertainment, competitions and rides. For the Sussex County Sheriff's Office, however, fair days are not all fun and games. There is serious security preparation that goes on behind the scenes prior to a fair to make sure everyone stays safe.

“The fair, being one of our largest events of the year, is always a challenge,” said Sheriff Michael Strada. “However, we find that preparation with all the agencies beforehand has proved to be beneficial for the safety of everyone visiting the fair.”

In advance of the fair, the Sussex County Fairgrounds are required to have an All-Hazard Emergency Action Plan. This plan is reviewed and updated annually by the Fair Manager and staff working with the Frankford Township Office of Emergency Management and Sussex County Sheriff's Office, The Division of Emergency Management to ensure it meets Federal, State, and local requirements.

As the fair gets closer, all members of emergency services (New Jersey State Police, The Sussex County Sheriff's Office, the Frankford Fire Department and Blue Ridge Rescue Squad, along with Municipal and County Offices of Emergency Management meet with the the Fair Manager and discuss operations and proposed venues/events for the 10 day event. A tabletop exercise is developed based on a particular hazard/event and all emergency services and fair department heads participate in this exercise.

Once the fair is underway, the Frankford Fire Department has staff on site with available apparatus. Blue Ridge Rescue and St Clare's Paramedics are on site with equipment and man a first aid station and provide transportation to hospital as needed. Additional equipment is brought in to accommodate the large attendance.

“Emergency management looks at the all-hazard approach,” Sheriff Strada said. “We are concerned with natural and man-made incidents/disasters. We are in constant communication with LE, Fire, EMS, National Weather Service. Our primary concern is always Life Safety, Incident Stabilization, and Property Preservation. We monitor the on-going conditions: weather, traffic, attendance, venues.”

Th Fairgrounds provides private security at all admission areas, and there is daily on-going communications between the New Jersey State Police, the Sussex County Sheriff's Office, and Event Security personnel.

An undisclosed number of New Jersey State Troopers are assigned daily as the fairgrounds falls within their coverage area, and the Sussex County Sheriff's Office provides officers for traffic control in and around the fair. The Sussex County Sheriff's Incident Management Support Team deploys and develops and Incident Action Plan daily.

“This is based on the proposed events while monitoring on-going events and communications, and providing situational awareness to all responders and fair management throughout the event,” Sheriff Strada said.

The fair features agriculture, livestock, and home arts exhibits, horse shows, interactive children’s activities, live music, a large midway with carnival rides and games for all ages, craft and merchandise vendors, a wide selection of great food, grandstand events such as the Demo Derby on Aug 4th & 5th and Monster Truck Show on Aug 6th (separate admission required), and free midway entertainment including Racing Pigs, chainsaw artist, bicycle stunt show, and more. A Queen of the Fair will be crowned and lots of fun will be had during its 2019 stint in Augusta.

The Sussex County Sheriff's Office collaborates to make sure everyone stays safe and if there is an incident, they'll be on the scene.