Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, a free music festival in Golden Gate Park, has typically been a freewheeling event with open boundaries and no fences or security checkpoints. (Dan Chambers/Special to S.F. Examiner)

Hardly Strictly Bluegrass adds fencing, security checks in response to recent shootings

Free music festival in Golden Gate Park bans coolers, restricts backpacks

Following a surge of mass shootings in recent weeks, this year’s Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival will feature new safety and security measures along with a greater police presence, officials said on Tuesday.

The popular free music festival, scheduled for Oct. 4-6 in Golden Gate Park, will for the first time add new fence lines and restricted entrances at four locations: JFK Drive and Transverse Drive, Fulton Street and 30th Avenue, JFK Drive and 36th Avenue and South Polo Field.

“As the world changes, Hardly Strictly Bluegrass feels the need to respond, prioritizing safety over convenience. We understand that these changes will make our event differ from years past, but are hopeful that our longtime fans will embrace these new rules,” organizers said in a statement.

Unlike in previous years, the side paths will be closed off with fencing and entrances will not open until 9 a.m.

Festival goers will also not allowed to bring coolers, and any backpacks must be clear plastic and measure less than 16 by 16 inches by 8 inches.

Blankets and short-backed chairs are allowed, but will be subject to search. Oversized or restricted items will be turned away at all entry points.

The San Francisco Police Department and Tactical Unit will also provide increased police presence in the area.

Also on Tuesday, Hardly Strictly Bluegrass announced its final line-up, with Fantastic Negrito, Bill Kirchen and Bobby Braddock among 30 other new names.

Hardly Strictly Bluegrass is not the first festival to implement increased security and safety measures following mass shootings at the Gilroy Garlic Festival on July 28, in El Paso, Texas, on Aug. 3, and in Dayton, Ohio on Aug. 4.

Last month, the Outside Lands Festival, which also takes place in Golden Gate Park, deployed a SWAT team to patrol on site and implemented thorough check-up searches with dogs and metal detectors.

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Thousands gather at Hellman Hollow during the 15th annual Hardly Strictly Music Festival at Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, Calif. on Friday Sept. 30, 2016. (Aleah Fajardo/ Special To S.F. Examiner)

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