Between extra security personnel, RCMP officers and EMS on site, organizers say Country Thunder may be the safest place in Saskatchewan next weekend.
Gerry Krochak is the director of marketing and media relations for the biggest country music festival in the province, which kicks off July 12.
He said the “safest place” comment — made by their emergency services co-ordinator at a meeting Wednesday morning — may sound lofty, but he’s confident in the team who have been fine-tuning safety and security plans for years.
Over the Canada Day long weekend, tragedy struck at Dauphin’s Countryfest when a 24-year-old was found dead in a nearby creek Tuesday. He had been reported missing from the Manitoba festival on Saturday.
When asked if the tragedy may put a heavier focus on safety at Country Thunder, Krochak maintained his confidence in the security personnel, first responders and RCMP officers on site at Country Thunder, describing them as “second to none.”
“You’re always under a watchful eye, but in a safe and fun manner,” Krochak said.
“I love the job that the RCMP do here. Seeing the way that they kind of are able to have a little bit of fun and have a few laughs with patrons in a very disarming manner – but also knowing that everyone is safe and well looked-after is what’s important to us.”
When it comes to general health and safety, Krochak encourages people to always take precautions and report to officials if they see anyone in distress of any kind.
He noted there is always concern about dehydration.
“A lot of it comes down to common sense and ‘see something, say something,’” he said.
“Come out, have a great time, be prepared to have a great time — but be smart about it and be aware.”
New clear bag policy, additional security
Krochak said this year, there will noticeably be more security personnel and RCMP officers stationed on Country Thunder grounds.
“Anybody who walks around this festival for any length of time — or goes into the campground or comes into the concert bowl or goes down the main street — you’re going to see security, you’re going to see first responders, you’re going to see RCMP, no question,” Krochak said.
The festival has also introduced a clear bag policy this year to ban large backpacks and coolers from the main concert area. Small purses or clear plastic bags are allowed.
“The clear bag policy has been met with some grumbling on social media, but most people understand it’s the world we live in and it’s a policy we’re pretty confident with,” Krochak explained.
Festival gates open Thursday, July 12.