After months of seeking ways to mitigate issues related to the St. Mary’s Polish Country Fair, held annually on Memorial Day weekend, the Orchard Lake City Council approved a business license for the fair on Monday, March 21.
The fair, which is the school’s largest fund-raiser, has been a lakes area tradition for nearly 40 years. However, over the last few years problematic incidents have hampered the event, and despite erecting new fencing and implementing security checkpoints, trouble-makers were not deterred last year. As a result, local law enforcement personnel stepped up and began working on a security plan to roll out this year.
Orchard Lake police, together with Orchard Lake St. Mary’s Headmaster James Glowacki, representatives of the St. Mary’s Moms and Dads Club, and Oakland County Sheriff’s Department officials, met over the last six months and developed a strategic plan that the parties have accepted.
“We’re very excited about this strategic plan to make this year’s fair the best ever,” Glowacki said.
One change includes enlisting Oakland County Sheriff’s Department mounted deputies as reserves to back up Orchard Lake police officers during the fair. The mounted police will be positioned at entrances, handle crowd patrol and monitor parking lots and perimeters.
“We will provide a safe family entertainment venue assisted by police and the Oakland County Sheriff, who will help us do what we’ve been doing for the last 40 years,” Glowacki said.
According to Orchard Lake Police Chief Fred Rosenau, a designated entry with turnstile gates will be installed so no contraband or weapons are brought into the fair. Any unruly conduct will be strictly prohibited.
“Each person will be given an arm band at the gate and if we find someone not wearing one, he or she will be escorted off the premises or possibly arrested for trespassing.”
Music will be changed at 8 p.m. to country western, instead of rap or heavy metal.
Lastly, there will be traffic control at designated entrances. The city is in discussions with the Road Commission for Oakland County to have it re-synchronize the signals at Commerce and Orchard Lake roads during peak times.
“Everyone is on board with the changes,” Rosenau said. “It’s a great family event and it’s our job to keep it so.”
Prior to the 2010 fair, a formal agreement was forged between the city and the St. Mary’s Moms & Dads Club to erect new fencing and implement security checkpoints to ease safety concerns. At the time, the fencing was thought to cost over $100,000.
Multiple representatives of the St. Mary’s Moms and Dads Club didn’t return calls for comment prior to press time.