By Ron Matz

TIMONIUM, Md. (WJZ) — The 130th Maryland State Fair is opening Friday. Fans lined up early in the morning to get a good seat for Friday night’s Selena Gomez concert.

But as Ron Matz reports, fair organizers are also keeping a close eye on another lady named Irene.

The midway is ready, but a monster lurks along the East Coast.  Hurricane Irene is poised to hit Maryland.

“We’re very much keeping an eye on Irene. We have met with Baltimore County Police, State Police and fire emergency officials.  We’ve had several meetings,” said Grove Miller, Chairman of the Board of the Maryland State Fair. “We’ve made plans in case something happens.  We sure hope it doesn’t, but if we have to evacuate we’ve made plans for evacuations.  We will make an announcement prior to every concert where people can go.  We hope that everything’s covered, but you never can be absolutely sure.”

Bad weather could mean problems for tents.

“We’re trying to keep our midway folks involved so they know.  Many of their rides and games have tents.  With all the wind and rain we want to make sure everybody’s safe. We want to do the right thing before it happens. We want it to be proactive and not reactive,” said Andy Cashman, assistant general manager of the Maryland State Fair.  “We’re working with our safety team, the county fire and police departments and the Maryland State Police.  We’ve had several meetings and we’ll have a plan of action to monitor the weather and let people know what’s going on.”

Friday night’s headliner is Selena Gomez.  Some of the expected 10,000 concert goers lined up early. At least on opening day, it’s business as usual.

“We have a big concert, Selena Gomez. She’s bringing eight buses of people and 10 tractor trailers. It should be a really good show.  We’ve sold over 10,000 tickets.  Gates open at 5:30 and the show starts at 7:30 p.m. Come on out and enjoy yourself. It’s a great place to be,” said Cashman.

“We still want people to come out. We’re going to do everything we can to make sure everybody’s safe.  At least now, it looks like we’re fortunate for the concert tonight,” said Miller.

Fair organizers hope Irene will be a no-show, but they aren’t taking any chances.

“We have a lot of folks from the Eastern Shore, Western Maryland, Pennsylvania and Virginia who come and exhibit animals and crafts. We also have judges who fly in from all over the country.  A judge from Canada called and was worried about her flight and backed out.  It’s a tough thing,” said Cashman.

The state fair runs for 11 days and continues through Sept. 5.


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