JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - One week after a gunman killed nearly 60 people at a country music festival in Las Vegas, the first-ever Florida Oktoberfest and Music Festival took place amid increased security.
“We have multiple members of different community organizations from ex-military veterans to a SWAT team to tactical units,” said Charles Wagoner with festival operations and 904 Happy Hour.
He said immediately following the Las Vegas massacre, festival organizers met to reevaluate and boost security.
“We talked with festival organizers, event organizers from all over the country, and they told us what they were planning on doing at their future festivals,” he said.
The festival implemented an NFL-style, strict bag policy and all festival attendees were screened with a wand before entering.
Rick Blaine came to the festival from Palm Coast with his sister, brother-in-law, girlfriend and niece. The group bought tickets over a month ago.
“We looked over, there’s no high-rises or anything, so you obviously think about those things but no, I’m not worried about it at all,” Blaine said. “In no way, shape or form did it make me think double-think going into a crowd or anything like that.”
Jacksonville residents Jillian Coleman and Jack Pukay had attended the festival multiple days and noticed the security measures in place. While they weren’t afraid to attend, they did think about what happened in Vegas.
“We were here on Friday and she did make a comment about it,” Pukay said.
“Well, it was like not super packed so I was just like ‘Oh maybe people are, like, a little nervous because of just what happened,’” Coleman said.
Julia Bright and Megan Farris, both of Nassau County, were apprehensive after the Las Vegas shooting but decided to purchase tickets this past week.
“We were nervous but we decided to come anyway,” Farris said.
“You just think it would never happen to you, you know?” Bright said.