Concerns about public safety during a planned pro-President Donald Trump march and possible counter-protest have prompted the closure of the Orange County fairgrounds during a weekend in late March.
The OC Fair & Event Center announced Thursday it would be closed the weekend of March 25 to 26. The Orange County Register first reported the closure of the Costa Mesa facility.
“Based on input from local law enforcement agencies, the fairgrounds will be closed due to public safety concerns about a political march and protests planned to take place nearby,” the OC Fair said in a statement.
A series of pro-Trump marches are scheduled across the country on March 25. The Costa Mesa event is set for noon to 3 p.m., according to a Facebook event page for the “Southern California MAGA March.”
About 1,400 people are interested in going, according to the event page.
The nationwide “Make America Great Again March” website lists two events in California: in Costa Mesa and in Sacramento.
It isn’t immediately clear if any organized counter-protests are currently scheduled in response to the Costa Mesa event.
A spokeswoman for the fairgrounds said the local MAGA event came to officials’ attention and then conversations with law enforcement led to the closure decision.
Fair officials are “concerned about public safety with marchers and possible counter-protesters,” OC Fair spokeswoman Terry Moore told KTLA.
In April, a Trump campaign rally at the Pacific Amphitheatre at the fairgrounds led to the arrests of 17 people. Then in May, 14 people were arrested following a Trump event at the Anaheim Convention Center.
In both cases, the arrests followed chaotic and sometimes violent anti-Trump protests outside the rallies.
For the upcoming weekend in March, the OC Fair has canceled the Orange County Wine Society’s Wine Extraordinaire, the Crossroads of the West Gun Show, and the weekly Orange County Market Place swap meet. The fairgrounds will also close Heroes Hall, Centennial Farm and the equestrian center, and the farm’s food preservation class has been canceled.
“Safety is our utmost concern,” OC Fair CEO Kathy Kramer said in the statement. “We will work with promoters and organizers to make every effort to reschedule the canceled events. Orange County Market Place will resume its schedule the following week.”
The Register reported that the Costa Mesa Police Department was paid $15,655 by the Trump campaign for police services during the April event, though the city had spent $47,000 more than that.
The Orange County Sheriff’s Department had sought a $130,000 payment from the OC Fair for its services during the April rally but later decided not to pursue payment, the Register reported. The OC Fair in turn repeatedly sought payment from the Trump administration but has not received a response, officials told the newspaper.
A Costa Mesa city spokesman said he did not believe the MAGA march had requested permits from the city for the event. An email sent to an individual listed as the organizer for the march did not immediately respond to an email request for comment.