Another year another #safeLJT


Photo courtesy of Tarleton Students

Poo sign posted during the 2018 LJT season in the TSC to remind students of the three D’s and to be safe during LJT.

We are just a little over a week away from the Larry Joe Taylor Texas Music Festival. It’s a time that Texan’s come from all over to enjoy country music and maybe have a little too much fun. The Taylor family has been hosting LJT since it started back in 1988, although it hasn’t always been at Melody Mountain Ranch here in Stephenville. In those 31 years they have become aware that not all people just want to have a good time with a community of people who feel the exact same way.

“We know there are always a few people in any community who are willing to cause harm but they are far outnumbered by the folks like you who are there to relax, listen/play music and have a good time,” said the LJT Family and crew.

Two years ago the Tarleton Student Counseling Services sat down with the Taylor family to talk about ways to keep the festival goers safe.

“The family was very invested from the outset so that’s where our safe LJT campaign came from,” Caris Thetford, Assistant Director, Substance Abuse & Violence Prevention Program said. “Since that time they have done a really great job to doing training with their staff and communicating with the event staff that if you see something concerning either get involved go get security or law enforcement.”

From that meeting the #SafeLJT campaign came about.

The Safe LJT Fair will be happening on Wednesday April 17 from 5 – 8 p.m. in Heritage Park. At this event, Tarleton Activities Board will be giving away Safe LJT fanny packs, free food, live music by DJ Quan, games along with safety and bystander tips. This event is for everyone, not only people who are going to LJT. These safety and bystander tips can be used anywhere not just at LJT.
A tactic which Counseling Services suggests students can use to assist in deescalating a situation by using the three D’s, be Direct: directly step in, Delegate: seek help and Distract: cause a distraction.

“For our students I would say if you are at the festival similar to being out at a house party, that they see a situation and they get a gut feeling and they see a warning sign if feel comfortable they can get involved without escalating the situation,” said Thetford. “The three D’s provide options for people to get involved in ways that don’t have to be confrontational, that won’t escalate things… these steps are really easy tools to take to the festival because there is always the option of alerting staff, security or law enforcement.”

One of the primary ways to stay safe is having a designated driver.

“Get a ride home with a real designated driver, not just someone who is drinking less. Get a real designated driver or use Lyft, Taxiville or some service like that. Also stay out there only if you have a safe place to sleep though,” said Matt Welch, Tarleton Police Cheif. “DPS always sends in about 10 to 12 extra troopers just for this event because of all the issues they have had in the past.”

A designated driver does not have to be someone attending the festival, if LJT isn’t their scene they can always drop you off and pick you up at the entrance to the festival.

Photo courtesy of the Larry Joe Taylor website.
An example of the #safeLJT wristbands that the LJT staff wears.

“When you are out there make sure you know whom your drink is coming from. People out there were giving out beer and jello shots but you don’t know who made that and what they put in them,” said Welch. “There could be a drug in there that you don’t know about. If you are going to consume alcohol make sure it is in a sealed can when you get it and you are the one to open it and you are the one who hangs on to it. That way you know how much you have had and what you are having.”

The Stephenville Emergency Room’s also sees an increase in people coming in with various problems needing treatment.

“They see more broken ankles, because the coolers are not steady or empty and they are dancing on top of it and it tips over and they then have a broken ankle,” said Welch. “They also recommend writing your name in sharpie down your arm and on the other arm your allergies because sometimes people, not just students but anyone, some into the ER and they have no clue who they are working with, they are working blind.”

It would also be a good idea to write your designated drivers number that way someone can contact a safe driver (someone you trust) to get you, if medical assistance is not required.

Welch also recommends that if you do get pulled over don’t try to argue or fight with the officer.

“If you get in a fight with an officer it’s just an added charge,” said Welch. “The time to fight that is in court not the side of the road.”

But it is always important to remember to stay hydrated, wear sunscreen, bundle up when it gets cold at night and be diligent of what is happening around you.

Regardless of whether you are going to LJT these things can apply to you in your normal day to day life.

“What I can say though is that I hope if a student is ever hurt in any way, whether it’s at LJT, at a house party, or maybe back home. That they know they are not alone and that there are people who will believe them and support them,” said Thetford. “If that person is a student they have access to the counseling center they pay for that in there student fees and we hope that they find their way here so we can support them and help them in whatever way they need.”