Posted: Nov 2, 2012 5:56 PM by Jenise Fernandez
Updated: Nov 2, 2012 6:06 PM
St. Landry Parish Sheriff's deputies and Opelousas police officers are stepping up security this weekend. Two events, the creole festival and Step-N-Strut, are expected to attract thousands to the parish. Step-N-Strut is an event rich in tradition, it's been going for 14 years. Last year, changes to St. Landry Parish's trail ride ordinance brought the number of riders from 2,500 down to 1,000. The changes were made in the interests of residents along the route, concerned about safety, trash and property damage.
"We have extra strength in the ordinance, teeth in the ordinance, that will help us better enforce the rides," said Sheriff Bobby Guidroz.
Excitement already filling the air, with hundreds of camper trailers parked and ready for Step-N-Strut this weekend.
"This year we've had a crazy response. We've got people from Virginia, North Carolina,and Pennsylvania. Can you believe that? They're pulling they're horses that far," said event organizer Dave Lemelle.
Lemelle expects at least 10,000 people to attend, making it a busy weekend for Opelousas police. A command center is already set up behind Evangeline Downs.
"Twenty officers will be out on the ground of Step-N-Strutt each night, as well as off duty patrolman patrolling the streets of Opelousas," said Opelousas Police Chief, Perry Gallow.
This is the third year in a row the Creole Festival and Step-N-Strut fall on the same weekend. Opelousas police officers are getting assistance from state troopers and the sheriff's office.
"Every officer, whether in plain clothes or uniform, will be assigned one of the details. Everybody is going to be busy this weekend," said St. Landry Parish Sheriff, Bobby Guidroz.
"We will also have a command post set up outside of Stallions Saturday and Sunday night because we're expecting large crowds," said Gallow.
Organizers of Step-N-Strut are stressing they want a fun and safe event. As camper trailers pull in, they're greeted by a sign saying, if you get in a fight or bring any firearms, you can expect to go to jail.
"This is a good environment. We've got a lot of families out here with kids and even dogs. They just came out to have a good time," said Lemelle.