Lisa Bracco, the General Manager of the Montana ExpoPark, says, "you just never know what will happen". That's why the Montana ExpoPark prepares for anything and everything. Bracco explains, "we have a lot of security on the grounds. We work with the Sheriff's department, the city of Great Falls, we have a new security company, Securitas, and we have event staff on the grounds".
Law enforcement looks for trends each year and adjusts. Cascade County Sheriff Bob Edwards says, "we always learn from our mistakes, although I am proud to say we don't make a lot of them over here". One of those trends is underage drinking. Edwards says, "one of the things we started doing is zero tolerance. If that happens you are going to be removed, charged, possibly taken to jail, and you're not going to be allowed back on the fairgrounds".
That's why wristbands, as a prerequisite to purchasing alcohol, made their debut at the fair last year. Bracco says, "what was a little bit of a challenge is there was a small cost and so what we did is everyone will need a wristband, but there won't be a charge. We have deferred the cost at other locations of the fair".
Edwards says, "wristbands helped my guys and gals identify a lot of folks". He also warns, "if we think you are under the age of 21 and you look under the age of 21 regardless of whether you have a wristband or not, expect to be carded".
Although wristbands are a huge help, it's not a fool proof system. Edwards says, "wristbands have been shared before. That's a gimme". Edwards recalls collecting over 30 fake IDs last year at the fair. Yet, there were only about 20 minor in possession offenses last year which is down from last year.
A new concern at the fair is the addition of horse racing, but security staff isn't worried. Edwards says, "I've worked the fair before when they used to have horse racing and I don't think it's going to make a big difference for security or law enforcement". Bracco explains, "it's really no different than rodeo".
To have a safe time while betting, keep your poker face on and do not flash your cash. There is another safety tip law enforcement wants you to be aware of: please do not invite criminals to rob your car. This means when you leave your vehicle do not leave personal belongings in plain sight. Have a fun, but safe time at the fair