Judging by the crowds that showed up, the recent inaugural Community Fair on the Sean T. Connaughton Plaza at the McCoart Government Center was a success.
Organizations from across the county and community set up tables and booths where people could learn about the Prince William County Police Department, Prince William County’s Department of Fire and Rescue, Public Safety Communications Center, Sheriff’s Department, Human Rights Commission, Office of Elections and more.
Sparky the Safety Dog showed up, and there was a home fire safety course where children could practice getting out of a house in case of fire. Visitors to the fair also had the chance to see fire and rescue vehicles along with police cruisers, tactical vehicles, equipment, motorcycles, a boat, and horses.
The police department worked with the University of Virginia, the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services, or DCJS, and a community focus group to set up the fair to bring the county’s diverse community together through the DCJS Investment in Community and Law Enforcement Partnership Initiative.
“We had a series of courageous conversations over an 18-month period after the death of George Floyd,” said Prince William County Police Chief Peter Newsham. “As a result of that, we decided that we would hold an event in the county to build unity and celebrate our diversity. The concept was to create a Fair that was specific to Prince William County that fosters lasting relationships with our diverse community by bringing together members of our law enforcement and citizens in a safe trusting environment that included diverse food, music, and children’s entertainment.”
The entertainment for children included a guy on stilts along with face painting and balloon animals.
People who attended said they enjoyed the event. “They put this on for the community and having a lot of people out here enjoying the food, enjoying the weather, and coming together is kind of cool,” said Elmer Reyes of Dumfries. “There’s a lot of activities for the kids, so it’s good stuff.”
“This is a really good start,” said Devinder Singh, who came with a group from the Sikh Center of Virginia. “This is the first one they are doing, so I really, really appreciate all of the communities getting together to know each other. Prince William County is so diverse and that’s a good thing.”
The food trucks that came to the fair brought hotdogs, kabobs, tacos, snowballs, cotton candy, and funnel cakes.