Lodi Grape Festival Reviews Security as Organizers Prepare for Thousands of Visitors

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LODI -- Each September the Lodi Grape Festival draws 70,000 people during its four-day run.

“We have a great family event. We have a lot of entertainment. It’s kind of a reunion of the whole city,” said festival CEO Mark Armstrong.

That is why the mass shooting at the Garlic Festival in Gilroy is so disturbing.

Grape Festival organizers began upgrading security following 9/11.

“Now we do metal detectors at the gates, we have wanding, we have complete bag searches, and a lot of police presence, which we’ve always had. But we keep ramping that up,” Armstrong explained.

The shooter in Gilroy cut a hole through the back fence to get in.

The Grape Festival grounds are in the city and much of its fencing is exposed to the street, unlike in Gilroy. A section of fencing along its main entertainment stage butts up against backyards but it is double-fenced and 12 feet high.

The 20-acre festival site, including the fencing, was inspected last week and will be again just before the festival opens in four weeks.

“Whether it be E. coli or something like happened in Gilroy, it always causes you to reflect and to look into your own operation and see what you can do to make it better,” Armstrong said.

The festival already has strict admission rules it’s developed over the years, which include no gang attire or weapons of any kind.

One controversial provision says off-duty police officers are not allowed on site with their weapons. That prevents festival-goers from getting nervous when they do see a gun.

There is a police office on site, along with festival security.

“You don’t want people to come and feel like they’re at a compound or they’re trapped in here, you know. We just want people to feel safe,” Armstrong told FOX40.

Festival officials will meet with police in the next few days to review procedures, which will likely include some patrolling of the fencing at the festival grounds.

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