Tracey Ladner of The Era-Leader staff had a very simple assignment: Get a good photo of Washington Parish Fair Building and Grounds Chairman Donald Folse.
She came back to the newspaper office somewhat abashed. “I couldn’t really get him to pose, and he wasn’t exactly dressed up,” she said.
So I looked at her photo, shown at the top of this page. And I thought to myself, “What a perfect photo. She has exactly captured what Donald is being honored for as the 2021 Washington Parish Fair Honoree.”
The photo shows Donald briefly looking up and managing a quick smile before getting right back to work on the Sylvest Cabin at Mile Branch Settlement. Since that awful day back in March when a tornado hit the Fairgrounds, Donald has been in that same pose, working virtually non-stop to repair damage at Mile Branch and other locations on the Fairgrounds. To a lesser degree, the damage repair mission was complicated by Hurricane Ida six weeks ago.
It is precisely Donald’s nature that he protested the photo, pointing out that many dedicated volunteers in addition to him have worked to repair the damage from March and again from the hurricane. In fact, volunteer outreach at the Fairgrounds this year has been a huge indicator of the affection and respect that the citizens of this parish have for the Washington Parish Fair.
But somone has to be the leader and set an example. Donald Folse is the perfect picture of a Building and Grounds Chairman. Always active, always looking for the next project, always dreaming of improvements for the Fairgrounds.
You and I focus on the big repair projects that were created by the March tornado, by the hurricane, and by the March 2016 flood. But there are many ongoing week-to-week smaller jobs that keep the Fairgrounds in shape and ready for the next Fair. Donald and his volunteers have devoted countless hours to ongoing maintenance and upgrades that may seem routine, but which are absolutely critical for access, convenience, and safety of fairgoers.
As a deputy sheriff, a police officer, and then as Franklinton Police Chief, Donald has lived a life of public service, climaxed by his outstanding effort as Building and Grounds chairman.
This is a man with many, many friends, all of whom would quickly agree that Donald Folse is richly deserving of one of the Fair’s highest honors, that of 2021 Fair Honoree.