6 Event Security Tips for Carnivals, Fairs, & Festivals


As we approach the spring and summer months, some states are preparing for reopening state fairs, carnivals, festivals, and special events.  As much as things have changed over the past year in the amusement and entertainment industry, one element has not — the importance of event security.

Event organizers face unique challenges when it comes to security. Some events can spread over multiple city blocks. Other events draw large crowds to wide open fields with often intoxicated guests.

Managing the security logistics, whether an event is indoors or outdoors, starts with establishing a perimeter to control who has access. Perimeters are established with fencing, metal detectors, other barriers, and security teams. It’s essential to work with local agencies, including third-party security agencies, regional, state, and even federal agencies.

Aside from establishing a strong perimeter, several other considerations should be discussed when preparing for event security. 

1. Have an event security plan

Event organizers need to develop a risk management plan long before the event kicks off. This is equally important as planning for the venue, advertising, food safety, and every other aspect of the event. 

2. Security

Event security starts with a security assessment. Leverage help from local law enforcement to review your event layout. Walking the property with local police will help identify weak security points.

Hiring security personnel is one of the best ways to ensure safety for an event. Make sure you give them the information they need to be most effective. They need maps of the event layout, including exits, management offices, lost and found booths, and medical services. Their presence alone is an effective deterrent for antisocial and criminal activity. Leverage security personal to:

  • Conduct body and bag searches at entrance points.
  • Patrol event boundaries. 
  • Maintain order.
  • Greetings at the entrance and exit points to set a tone for safety.

3. Controlling space with barriers

One of the most crucial aspects of event security is controlling space. Whether for restriction or traffic flow, event fencing is key to safety and security. Pedestrian barriers or crowd barriers are highly effective tools for:

  • Separating Areas — Isolating entertainment, queuing, keeping the public away from sensitive areas. 
  • Creating Space — Creating entrances off a temporary perimeter, and spaces within an event where no permanent structures exist.
  • Creating Cordons — Prevent guests from accessing areas that need to stay clear for vehicle access or backstage areas for entertainment..

4. Use trained volunteers

Don’t overlook the usefulness of volunteers. They should not be used for security but can be a valuable asset for providing first aid. It’s ideal to have trained medical or law enforcement professionals on your volunteer staff.

5. Leverage technology

Technology is doing its part to strengthen security, like smartphones used at many professional sporting events. Fans can anonymously submit complaints/observations notifying security in real-time. Smartphone cameras can also effectively document an incident to help with litigation later.

6. Insurance considerations

Even with the best event security plan in place, there are many potential risk exposures that operators need to consider. Weather, moving vehicles, parking exposures, propane tanks, fires, foodborne illness, trip and fall hazards, and even mass shootings or terroristic acts need to be considered and accounted for.

McGowan Allied Specialty Insurance is the most trusted provider in insurance coverage for the amusement and entertainment industry. With more than 35 years of expertise in risk management solely in the industry, you can rest assured that your events will have all possible exposures accounted for and covered.

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