JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - As Hurricane Delta moves closer to Louisiana, its reach could also threaten hundreds of Mississippi fairgoers from high winds over the next day or two with a temporary closure of the state fair.
It would be the first time a hurricane affected the fair’s operations since Katrina struck the Magnolia State in 2005, according to Michael Lasseter, acting director of the Mississippi Fair Commission.
Lasseter said they have a plan in place to coordinate with several agencies on how to approach the possibility of severe weather at the fairgrounds, but could not speculate on when the fair might be shut down or for how long.
Instead, he said the Fair Commission will announce more details in a press conference Friday.
Any down time would be used to safely take down tents and some of these tall, temporary structures to keep them from being blown around and damaged in the storm.
They’ll also have a safe area for fairgoers and vendors if the weather gets bad while they’re open.
“We have a large number of vendors down here and lifestyle participants, and we have a plan in place for them. Our [Mississippi] Coliseum is an area refuge, and that will become available on Friday evenings. For anybody down here that feels, you know, it’s unsafe, they can come into the Coliseum," Lasseter said.
Fair officials said the company which provides the rides, North American Midway Entertainment, will shut their rides down if winds reach more than 35 miles per hours.
“We might even have some stricter precautions than that, you know, if there’s going to be any kind of lightning out here,” Lasseter said.
Hinds County’s emergency management agency will also help coordinate with the Fair Commission and law enforcement agencies charged with providing fair security. The county’s interim EMA director, Joey Perkins, said they will help monitor and relay crucial information to those in the field.
“We get information real time, from several different agencies, including the National Weather Service, that we’ll pass along just like we would to a patrolman or a fireman on the road," Perkins said, adding those efforts serve as just another tool in the agency’s toolbox to keep residents safe.