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City of Bryan officials expect 30,000 people to visit downtown this weekend for the fourth annual Texas Reds Steak and Grape Festival.

Gwynne Shillings, the city's special events coordinator, said she anticipates Friday and Saturday's festivities to be packed full of people -- and fun.

"We expect it to be bigger and better than last year and the years before that," she said.

The main events will run down several blocks of Main Street. The festival is free, but various ticket packages can be purchased for individual events.

Forecasters are predicting partly cloudy weather for Friday and Saturday with highs in the 90s and lows in the 70s.

"We're kind of nervous," she said with a laugh when asked how many people are expected to attend. "Each year, the track record has shown about 30 percent growth [over] the year before."

Last year, the event sold out of wine and glasses for the first time, beer sales almost doubled and steak sales increased 35 percent from the year before, she said.

Shillings said city officials haven't calculated the final cost of the event, but with a tight economy, they are trying to keep costs moderate. It cost about $30,000 to book Kevin Fowler, the musical headliner for the event.

Fowler said he's looking forward to his first Texas Reds festival.

"We're going to play everything from the greatest hits to the new ones all the fans want to hear," he said. His latest record will be released in October, he said.

Shillings said the event is a major effort to coordinate, and organizers are already looking ahead to next year's event.

"An event this size takes a lot of work. It's not just one person. This is why it's so successful. We work on this as a city. Every department within the city has a very specific job during the event," she said.

A hot line has been added this year for people in need of information during the event. The number is 209-5897.

Volunteer Coordinator Hannah Jackson said 500 people and 20 nonprofit groups are signed up to help during the event.

Bryan Police Lt. Donna Richardson said the department has more reserve officers and volunteers working the event this year and will have 10 fewer officers at the festival than last year.

"We looked at what the needs were, and given the projections on the numbers out there, technically, if you look at the zones of policing throughout the city and compare how many work at Texas Reds, we felt we could shave back on the numbers without it affecting security," Richardson said.

Richardson said communications should improve over years past because the Community Emergency Operations Center in downtown will be in use during the festival for the first time. The center will help with information flow, she said.

There were only two arrests during last year's festival, both for public intoxication, she said. This year, officers will be encouraging hydration and will be directing people to first aid stations.

"Our goal is to be safe and for people to come out and enjoy it and not feel that security is at their detriment but to help them," she said.

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