Festival security priority at Decatur Celebration


DECATUR, Ill. (WCIA) — Safety is at the forefront of event organizers’ minds for the Decatur Celebration.

The deadly shooting that killed three and hurt twelve people at the Garlic Festival in California prompted this team to reevaluate its security plan. The Decatur Celebration is just a couple days away. Tens of thousands of people are expected to show up and the security team is ramping up its strategy to keep them safe.

On Wednesday organizers were finishing installing extra cameras around downtown to monitor the event. While they did review their policy after the California festival shooting, not much of their security strategy has changed.

Director Jarrod Cox says, “It’s something I have to think about every single day. Unfortunately, it’s the time we’re in.” His team has been reviewing the event security plans for months in advance. This shooting was a reminder of the responsibility they have to protect people.

Cox says, “It’s actually our top priority. Keeping everyone safe is by far the most important thing that we do over everything else.”

Sixteen blocks of downtown Decatur will be shut down with five entry points, one more than last year.

Security Director David Stout says, “We also have a fence in place. That fence is monitored. Every entry point we have, just like in California, is monitored as well.”

They’re also using dozens of 4k resolution cameras downtown. Stout says, “That’s something we have that the venue out in California did not have. They are monitored. They are watched.”

Decatur Police, the Macon County Sheriff’s Office, and the Decatur Celebration’s security team are pairing up to provide officers to guard the event. Even just two days before it kicks off, they’re still making adjustments to keep people as safe as possible. Cox says, “Every single decision we make, if we change something in the festival, we have to look at the security aspect of it, how we’re getting emergency services in, everything. It’s huge.”

While the team wants to reassure people of their safety at the event, they also have a friendly reminder. Stout says, “I hope everybody comes down here and has a wonderful time.”

Decatur Celebration organizers will meet immediately after the event to review how security was handled. They’ll go over statistics of any arrests, fights, lost kids, and other incidents. Then they’ll come up with new ideas on how to improve for next year.

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