SNOOK, Texas — Thousands of ticket-holders left thousands of beer cans behind at the Chilifest site in Snook over the weekend, but local police said that once the festival cleanup crew is done, passersbys won’t be able to tell anyone was even on the pasture.
According to the Burleson County Sheriff’s office, this year’s festival - the first to be held since the onset of the pandemic - was short on trouble-making and long on fun, with arrest rates low.
"Looking back I don’t know the exact number of arrests) in 2019, but I think it was estimated between 30 and 40," said BCSO Chief Deputy John Pollock. "So we have indicated that this year the 12 arrests were significantly lower than in 2019.”
Those 12 arrests connected to the festival were all non-violent and mostly related to intoxication, with charges such as public intoxication and driving while intoxicated.
Making sure everyone in the area is safe during Chilifest is a team effort for all local first responder entities, who station themselves at command posts.
“A lot of things that we think about, other than law enforcement events out there at Chilifest, (are) weather events, fires, medical events - say if a lot of people start passing out, then we know something’s wrong," said Duane Strange, Burleson County emergency management coordinator.
Traffic flowed even smoother than usual this year, Strange noted. First responders were aided in their monitoring of the event by new technology they didn’t have full access to the last festival in 2019 such as the emergency broadband network FirstNet.
“This year we were able to use a camera trailer from Washington County," Strange said. "They allowed us to use that camera to allow us to have better eyes on Chilifest grounds.”
For the first time in Chilifest history, the Burleson County Sheriff’s Office even had their deputies’ eyes in the sky.
“We had the drone up all weekend," said Pollock. "It was deployed out there, and we used it to make sure we could see what was going on overhead if there were any problems. We also used it to make sure we had crowd control to see how the crowd was flowing - and for traffic control.”
Pollock wanted to remind future Chilifest visitors to watch out for their own safety and the safety of the community around them by drinking responsibly and legally and having a sober ride home.