The Washington Police Department and the Washington Optimist Club will host the 43rd annual Bike Rodeo Saturday, May 19, at 9 a.m. at the Washington Fairgrounds Swine Pavillion for children ages 5 to 13.

In the past, the department borrowed safety towns from businesses like Kohls4Kids, SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital and others. Now, the police department is in the process of building its own safety town.

The safety town, which is currently under construction, will feature different traffic signs aimed to help children under the age of 5, who can’t participate in the rodeo, learn best safety practices while riding tricycles.

Children ride around the town with their parents, navigating stop signs, crosswalks, electronic signage and even railroad crossings. Officers will be on hand to answer questions and help children during the event.

Washington Police Office Supervisor Cindy Buescher said building the new safety town was something the department had wanted to do for some time. She said area businesses who donated made it possible to finally build the town.

“We’ve wanted to build one of these for a while. This year we jumped in with both feet,” Buescher said. “We couldn’t have made the town unless these businesses made those donations.”

The following area businesses donated to the creation of the town: Franklin County Animal Medical Center, Orange Leaf, Fazoli’s, DeBourge Guesthouse, Washington Optimist Club, United Mutual Insurance, Purina Farms, Altemueller Jewelry, Modern Auto, Washington Fire Department, Washington City Hall; Washington Police Department;

Washington Elks Lodge, Bank of Washington; Fas-Trip, Revolution Cycles, Bank of Franklin County, YHTI, Mercy Hospital Washington, Fairway Auto, Washington Youth Sports Association, Ziglin and Signz 360.

“It’s about the safety factor and helping (children) understand how to ride their bike around town,” Buescher said. “We really stress safety and wearing helmets.”

The rodeo, which is designed for older children, will feature five skill stations that aim to teach bicycling skills, such as slow speed riding and balance, circling and changing directions, short radius turning, straight line control and weaving.

Hope Lodge 251 will run a Missouri Child ID program at the rodeo. The program collects digital photographs and fingerprints, information, emergency contacts and dental bite impression that provides a DNA sample. That information is placed on a CD compatible with the Amber Alert program.

The volunteers retain no information concerning the child and the program is free.

Bicycle licensing by the police department, attendance awards, free food and a fun area with face painting also will be set up at the rodeo.