FRYEBURG – Rich Schur presents an impressive, perhaps imposing image as he stands at Cross Road and Livestock Street at the Fryeburg Fair.

Wearing sunglasses, a firearm and a jacket with “POLICE” printed on the back, it’s no secret that Schur is part of the team providing protection and preventing trouble. However, the bustling fairgrounds showed no sign of trouble as it entered its fourth day Wednesday.

“We’re not out here to hassle the people, really,” Schur said. “We’re here to assist them.”

Schur, a retired New York Police Department officer, is one of 55 certified police officers at the fair. Sixty security personnel cover the gates.

Roland Drouin, second in charge of security and a retired Androscoggin County deputy, said the officers come from all over the state.

“They take their vacation at this time and they work the fair,” he said.

Three shifts of patrols cover each day of the fair.

A dispatch station on site, manned 24 hours a day by five dispatchers, keeps in touch with the Oxford County Regional Communications Center in Paris as well as the Fryeburg Police Department.

“From years past we used to have a lot of little problems,” Drouin said. “The fair has changed from being rowdy to a family fair.”

“You try to have enough people in every location,” Schur said. “I’d say it’s a security blanket for the people.”

Drouin said having more police and banning alcohol at the fair have helped reduce the number of incidents.

One of the main jobs for police is searching for lost children, who Drouin said can easily disappear into a crowd.

“People don’t realize that their child is 3 feet tall and the crowd is 6 feet tall,” he said.

If a parent reports their child missing, a description is given to officers and other professionals who communicate through a network of 130 personal radios. If police find a missing child, they bring them to the main office and make an announcement over the public address system.

“Usually the kid doesn’t want to leave because the ladies up at the office spoil them anyway,” Schur said.

Drouin said that in case of an emergency, such as a child reported kidnapped, security will lock down the gates to prevent anyone from leaving.

Seven paramedics work out of two stations and regularly patrol around the fair, often administering aid for minor injuries. The stations have treated everything from splinters to a person who stuck their hand in a horse’s mouth and was bitten.

“Sometimes city folk don’t know better, I guess,” medic Mem McKay joked.

Rex Wiley, assistant chief with the Fryeburg Fire Department, said the department and the Saco Valley Fire Association keep engines on site as a precaution.

“Everybody works together to really keep things going,” Wiley said.

Scott Parker, director of the county’s Emergency Management Agency, said between 30,000 and 40,000 people visit the fair each day, and about 20,000 more are camping on or near the fairgrounds.

Parker has positioned the agency’s mass casualty incident trailer, DECON Strike Force hazardous materials trailer, and communications trailer on site.

“It’s been a real easy year for us,” Wiley said, “and that’s what we like to have.”


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