Santa Clara Co. Fair opens with increased security after fatal shooting at Gilroy Garlic Festival

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- Thursday was opening day at the 75th Annual Santa Clara County Fair in San Jose.

Kelly Crosby and her kids were among the first 100 to make it in. They were greeted by county fair entertainers, and also extra security.

Law enforcement is patrolling the entrance and then there is a security check point just after the ticket gate. Once inside, there is even more law enforcement patrolling the fairgrounds.

Crosby wants kids to have fun, but admits, the fatal shooting at the Gilroy Garlic Festival is still on her mind. So, she welcomes the added security.

RELATED: New security plan developed for Santa Clara County Fair in wake of Gilroy shooting

"We had a conversation in car the way over here about what to do if they hear anything that sounds suspicious. Sort of like fireworks. Run-hide-defend. They do those drills in school," says Crosby.

"Walking in the door, I saw the added presence, both in the parking lot and the front door. That does make me feel a little better as a parent," she said.

Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith says this year's fair organizers called her Sunday night after learning about the fatal shootings in Gilroy. She says they set up a meeting Monday morning to come up with a beefed up security plan.

"Certainly the Gilroy incident did make a difference on how we viewed security here," says Sheriff Smith, adding, "We don't anticipate any problems."

The fair used to run for two weeks. However, declining attendance and a drop in revenue forces organizers to scale back.

But attendance almost doubled last year, and the event made a profit for the first time in almost 30 years.

New management and marketing is credited for the turn-around. Organizers have turned to social media, and in several of the languages widely spoken in Santa Clara County, to boast awareness and interest in the fair.

RELATED: Sonoma County Fair officials add layer of security to calm fears after Gilroy

Along with the traditional carnival rides, farm animals and concerts, the fair has added an International Village with Vietnamese, Indo-American and Latino-themed festivities. There will also be fireworks every night.

The increased security was just one more layer for this year's event..

"We took a look at our safety plans and we have redoubled our efforts. And I think what that means is that have created an even safer environment for people who want to come and enjoy the fair," explained Santa Clara County Supervisor Cindy Chavez, who represents District 2.

One woman, who only wanted to be identified as Monique, made it out with a large group of family and friends. She has noticed a big increase in the number officers patrolling the fairgrounds, which she says is necessary this year.

"(It) makes me feel like I don't have to worry about anything. If something was to happen, it would be contained very quickly," says Monique.

The Santa Clara County Fair runs Thursday, Aug. 1 through Sunday, Aug. 4.

Admission is $10 for adults, and $5 for seniors and children ages 5 to 12. It is free admission for kids under 5-years-old, veterans and active-duty military. Parking is $10 per vehicle.

For a full event schedule, click here.
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