People attending this weekend’s Dusk Music Festival at Rillito Park will notice beefed up security measures at the festival grounds entrance and more security and police patrolling throughout the event
It’s all part of a revamped security plan by the festival’s organizers in light of the mass shooting at Sunday’s Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas that claimed 59 lives, including that of a recent University of Arizona graduate.
“What we’re doing first off is re-examining every single thing that we planned, every single thing we have set up,” Page Repp, one of the festival’s four founders, said Tuesday. “We didn’t find any glaring holes, but just pre-emptively, to be safe, we are going to be increasing levels pretty much across the board.”
About 4,200 people attended last year’s inaugural one-day Dusk festival. Organizers expect to see that number jump to roughly 5,000 to 6,000 a day as the festival this year grows to two days.
Repp said there will be additional security staff to inspect concertgoers’ bags including using metal wand detectors on everyone passing through the gate. Although the festival doesn’t have a clear-bag policy similar to the one in place at all University of Arizona sporting events and at the AVA at Casino del Sol, bags must be handbag-sized. Patrons also can bring in empty water bottles, from plastic disposal bottles to hydro flasks, Repp said. Water stations will be set up across the festival grounds to fill those bottles.
“We are examining pretty much every contingency that’s out there to make sure no stone is left unturned,” Repp said.
“We just want to make sure that we do everything in our power to make sure our guests, our artists and our staff are as safe as you can make them.”
Repp said festival organizers reached out to the artists’ representatives Monday and had internal conversations about canceling the festival. But everyone agreed “that the best thing for us to do was to have a concert and celebrate the good in the world and not give in to fear,” he said.
“We are devastated by what happened in Las Vegas. It is unthinkable that something like that could happen at such a happy event. We thought long and hard about what to do and we decided to go ahead,” he added.
This year’s Dusk headliners are hip-hop artist Big Sean on Friday, Oct. 6, and EDM producer Steve Aoki on Saturday, Oct. 7. Gates open at 4 p.m. Friday and 3 p.m. Saturday, with opening acts going on stage about 30 minutes later. (See related stories in Thursday’s Caliente.)
Meanwhile, the University of Arizona-affiliated Southwest Folklife Alliance is approaching business as usual for its 44th annual Tucson Meet Yourself Festival later this month. Alliance Executive Director Maribel Alvarez said there’s not much more the group can do to protect the estimated 125,000 people expected to attend the Oct. 13-15 event in and around downtown’s El Presidio Park and Jacome Library Plaza.
“There are certain things we can’t plan for, those acts of insanity and violence that are outside of anybody’s predictability,” Alvarez said. “We don’t have any way of making changes to give us any more assurances that we don’t already have.”
Alvarez said the festival, which showcases Tucson’s cultural diversity in food, art and the performing arts, is protected by Tucson police and the A-Team, which specializes in event security.
In its 44-year history, Tucson Meet Yourself has never had any acts of violence, Alvarez said. The worst she’s heard is minor scuffles and a lost child.
“In a crowd you feel vulnerable, but I think the public is always alert now,” she said.
Meet Yourself, from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Oct. 13 and 14 and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Oct. 15, will feature 100 folk artists, 58 food vendors and 80 community agencies sharing information or selling products.