ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) – The Minnesota State Fair is back on, welcoming its first guests Thursday morning, and while many fans cannot wait to get there, others are sitting it out.
Julie Herrera-Lemler is keeping her family in Rochester this year as relatives deal with the aftermath of a recent mass-shooting.
“Jason’s (her son) favorite stop was of course french fries so we had to stop there that was the first place,” Herrera-Lemler said.”I just decided a couple of weeks ago that it just was not for my safety, my sons safety and just for peace of mind that I was not gonna attend.”
Herrera-Lemler’s family members were caught in the Garlic Festival shooting less than a month ago in California and things for them have not been the same since.
“Both of them are still dealing with images and things that people just shouldn’t have to deal with when they go to a fun event with the family,” Herrera-Lemler said. “As you can imagine their in counseling they’ve been going through that them and their families and they are just trying to have a normal life which right now isn’t really exist.”
While not a direct response to recent mass shootings, officials at the state fairgrounds are stepping up their efforts, “Additional security this year, additional staff training more police officers, different vehicle access measures, but again that’s nothing new,” said Minnesota State Fair General Manager Jerry Hammer.
He also said heightened security is nothing new, but everyone can help. “At the fair if you see something, say something and everybody can help out with that,” Hammer said. “We’re doing everything we possibly can to make sure people have a good time at the fair.”
Herrera-Lemler might be sitting this one out, but she is hopeful one day she’ll be back for a great time, “We’ll still figure something else out to do while the state fair is going but for now I think we’re gonna skip the big crowds.”
During the 11 days left of the fair Hammer hopes fair goers use the event to come together and meet people they wouldn’t normally see in their every day lives.