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Join the salute: Parade will escort mobile 9/11 exhibit

Capt. Dawanna Witt, the fair chief with Dakota County Sheriff’s Office, and Farmington Assistant Fire Chief Jeffrey Allbee said they extend Minnesota hospitality to the New York firefighters coming Sunday, Aug. 5, as part of “The 9/11 Never Forget Mobile Exhibit” at the Dakota County Fair. The exhibit will be open free Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Kara Hildreth / Contributor

Dakota County residents are invited to a patriotic parade led by local public safety escorting "The 9/11 Never Forget Mobile Exhibit" truck Sunday, Aug. 5, as it rolls into Dakota County Fairgrounds.

"We are very honored they are giving us this chance for our communities to reach out and talk with them and pay our respects to the men and women who were victims on Sept. 11," said Capt. Dawanna Witt with Dakota County Sheriff's Office.

Witt, who was recently promoted to become the department's first woman captain, will be the fair chief at Dakota County Fair. The fairgrounds is technically located in Castle Rock Township.

All public safety police and fire departments within Dakota County have received an invitation to participate in the escort parade.

The parade will commence from Dakota County Dispatch in Empire Township beginning at 1:30 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 5. The convoy will head westbound on 160th Street all the way to Pilot Knob Road in Farmington, then will head south on Pilot Knob Road to County Highway 50 and south on Denmark Avenue before turning toward Dakota County Fairgrounds on 220th Street West.

Witt said it will be a pleasure to host firefighters and first responders who volunteer to operate and give guided tours in the mobile exhibit.

The tragedy of Sept. 11, 2001, shook the country and today's law enforcement share the oath to protect communities, cities and towns across the nation, Witt said.

"It is definitely a brotherhood and everybody felt the impact of that no matter where they lived, so this is a big event and we are doing our best to make sure we can share that with all the people that want to come and cheer them along the parade route," Witt said.

The sheriff deputies who will work at the fair and the volunteer Farmington Fire Department houses will work to make visitors feel welcome.

"We want to give them time to show them our Minnesota Nice and show them what Dakota County is all about," Witt said.

"Most of us do not have the opportunity to go to New York and see the grounds there, so for them to come to us is wonderful," said Jeffrey Allbee, assistant chief with Farmington Fire Department. "We would love to see people lined up along Pilot Knob cheering them on as they come into town."