WEST SPRINGFIELD, Mass (WGGB) — More than a million people have passed through Big E gates so far this year, and that number will only rise. Teen sensation Austin Mahone Saturday and the Beach Boys Sunday. For one final weekend, massive crowds will fill the Big E, with beefed up security protecting them on the grounds.
“It’s a very fluid situation,” Director of Operations Gerard Kiernan said. “The best thing about the exposition is that we are a very nimble organization.”
The fair worked with federal, state and West Springfield police to take extra precautions following the Boston Marathon bombings. Many of the measures are hidden, including unmarked and uncover task forces and detectives.
“The people that need to know what to look for are here on our grounds doing their jobs night and day,” Kiernan said. “There’s no question about it.’
Should problems arise, prisoners are processed and held in the Big E’s fully functional police station. 100 special police officers work with the full time staff for all 17 days. The Big E says they want to make sure everyone gets to their cars leaving the fair too, that’s why officers line up and down Memorial Avenue crossing pedestrians.
However, hundreds of vendors use gas and fry liters to cook for those millions of people, so there’s fire danger too. Inspectors make sure vendors have suppression systems, extinguishers, and safety protocols. 12-14 firefighters staff an operating fire station on the grounds. Last year they responded to about 100 calls.
“If they weren’t here on the grounds it’d be a very difficult task to get through traffic, navigate it, and get them packaged up and off the grounds,” West Springfield Deputy Fire Chief Dan Culver said. “So having the resources on the grounds is vital for safety we believe.”
Especially if a worst case scenario unfolds, which first responders both seen and unseen are working to prevent. Detectives also keep their eyes peeled for anybody using drugs, especially with younger crowds when popular shows are in town.