WEST SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- The Big E opens on Friday, but this year, there will be new security measures in place. This is in direct response to recent mass shootings around the country.
Vendors at the fair were rushing to set up on Thursday, anxiously awaiting the start of The Big E.
In addition to the food, rides, and tents already in place, security officials have a total of 25 walk-through metal detectors ready to go for guests and vendors to go through in order to get into the fair.
"We’re looking for any kind of weapon that might try to come through," said Cliff Hedges, director or public safety and security at The Big E.
Hedges told Western Mass News that in the wake of recent mass shootings across the country, officials are taking more precautions this year.
"I’ve seen the world change a lot and we have to be proactive about these type of incidences and make sure we’re doing our best," Hedges explained.
Hedges said recent shootings at events like the Gilroy Garlic Festival in California and the Minnesota State Fair reaffirmed the need for additional security measures.
"You just have to read the paper and watch the news these days...I still want to keep the feel of the fair, but I think a lot of people, with all of the things that have happened this year in different venues, will appreciate a little bit more of a sense of security," Hedges added.
Another new edition this year are towers that give safety officials a birds-eye view of everything going on on the fairgrounds With the new towers comes additional security cameras and a new 'zip tie' policy to visibly show that bags have been checked and are clear.
Hedges' position is new this year at The Big E as well, stressing the importance of safety at the fair.
"My job is to make everybody to feel secure, so when they’re here, they can have a good time with their families and friends...I’m feeling pretty good about how we’re going," Hedges noted.