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Sheriff offers tips for a safe Free Fair

With the Washington Parish Free Fair rapidly approaching, Washington Parish Sheriff Randy Seal cautions parish residents and visitors to be cautious as they enjoy the fair.

Seal offered the following suggestions for safety:

“First and foremost, know where your children are at all times,” Seal said. “Prepare a written note with the child’s name, the parent’s name, the parent’s cellphone number, the parent’s address and any other necessary information. Place that information in the child’s pocket or other location so that law enforcement officials can quickly identify a lost child and locate a parent or other responsible adult. Each year, several children become separated from their parents. Most children have no identification on them, and some are too young to give addresses and phone numbers. Always know what your child is wearing so you can give that information to officers.”

Seal said parents should help their child be able to identify themselves.

“Teach your young child your name,” Seal said. “When asked the name of their mother or father, some young children simply say ‘Mommy’ or ‘Daddy.’ Try to make certain your child knows your name.”

Seal suggested planning on where to meet up during the fair.

“Always designate a meeting point at the fair in the event you are separated from your children. Suggestions are the train near the rodeo arena or the bell near the stage,” Seal said. “Advise children who may become lost to seek out a uniformed officer who will take them to the Sheriff’s command center near the entrance to the midway. Children will be able to remain at the command center until claimed by parents.

Seal also suggested going to the fair in groups.

“Groups are safer than being alone,” Seal said. “Try to move around the fairgrounds with others instead of alone. This is especially important for children and teenagers who may not have parental or adult supervision. Large crowds often attract predators. Don’t give a predator the opportunity to make you a victim.”

Seal warned against accepting things from strangers or bringing in alcohol and illegal drugs.

“If someone you don’t know offers you something to eat or drink, refuse it. There is always the possibility that the food or drink has been tampered with,” Seal said. “Do not bring alcohol or illegal drugs to the fair. If you are caught with either, you will be arrested. The Sheriff’s Office has zero tolerance for such behavior. If you see someone with alcohol or illegal drugs, report them to the nearest uniformed officer.”

Seal said firearms are forbidden.

“Do not bring a firearm to the fair,” Seal said. “The Sheriff’s Office has zero tolerance for such behavior and you will go to jail if you have a firearm.”

Seal also warned of other behaviors.

“Fighting will not be tolerated on the fairgrounds. If you have a disagreement, settle it responsibly. Fighting will earn you a trip to the parish jail,” Seal said. “Stay in well-lighted areas at night and do not wander into adjacent woods. Keep cash and credit cards secure. Don’t lose them, and make sure they are not visible when you walk around.”

Two law enforcement command centers will be located on the fairgrounds. The Washington Parish Sheriff’s Office command center will be located across from the train engine near the entrance to the midway. The Franklinton Police Department command center will be located near the front entrance to the fairgrounds, across from the old armory. Officers will be available at each command center throughout the fair to assist anyone.

As far as parking, the Fair Association has relocated the parking area for disabled persons. In previous years, this parking was behind the Sheriff’s Office Command Center. Parking for the disabled is now located adjacent to the maintenance barn near the north end of the rodeo arena.

Seal reminds all fair visitors that the fair is a family event to be enjoyed by everyone.

“I wish everyone a safe and happy fair experience,” Seal said. “Enjoy the fair, enjoy your family and friends, enjoy the exhibits and the rodeo, enjoy the variety of free acts on the stage, enjoy the unique fair food and enjoy the privilege of gathering as citizens of a free nation for a few days of fun and relaxation. See you at the fair.”