With storms forecast for Sunday night, the Minnesota State Fair wants visitors to know that there are plans in place to keep everyone safe in case of severe weather.
Fair officials are in almost constant contact with meteorologists, and the National Weather Services notifies State Fair police whenever severe weather moves into eastern Hennepin County “so we know what’s coming,” fair spokeswoman Brienna Schuette said Sunday.
In cases of lightning, damaging winds or a potential tornado, a severe weather siren is activated and police squads travel the grounds alerting visits to seek shelter. The fair has more than 140 buildings, five of which have been designated as storm shelters, Schuette said.
Those shelters are marked on the official State Fair maps with a thick red lightning bolt in a square red box.
Visitors will be alerted when it’s safe to leave the shelters.
State Fair officials also have created an extensive plan for people attending a grandstand show. Announcements will be made from the grandstand stage as well as on the large LED screen on either side of the stage.
If officials believe it’s necessary to move visitors from the concert venue, they will be asked to go to the nearest exit, go all the way down the stairs and seek shelter inside the grandstand building. Concertgoers should save their tickets for re-entry after getting the all-clear.
The grandstand has been evacuated twice in the past two years, said Schuette. Last year at the finals of the amateur talent contest, spectators had to leave their seats and head inside. When the all-clear was given, the contest resumed and was completed at the band shell.
In 2013, at a sold-out Macklemore and Ryan Lewis concert, 15,000 fans moved inside for a time until the show resumed after the all-clear.
“We try to delay rather than cancel whenever possible,” Schuette said.
“We just keep our eyes on the sky and tell people to do the same thing,” she said.
Visitors can use the State Fair’s Twitter feed (@mnstatefair) anywhere on the fairgrounds for weather updates.