ROCHESTER, Minn. – Organizers and local law enforcement are implementing changes at the Olmsted County Fair amid ongoing "disorderly activities."
The event, returning after being canceled in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, has been plagued by fights, confrontations, and disorderly conduct. Sheriff’s deputies were spat on and kicked Wednesday night by a group of teenagers and authorities say those kinds of incidents are continuing, with one injuring a member of the fair board.
Up to 60 mostly unaccompanied juveniles are believed to be involved in the ongoing disruptions, which fair leaders say won't be tolerated anymore.
"They keep coming and wanting to disrupt it. it's like it's their goal to disrupt and provoke, and try to stir up whatever," said Olmsted County Fair Board President Scott Schneider. "They're unattended, they have no respect, they just run around, they ran a two-year-old little girl over yesterday, and they don't even think twice about it"
In response, carnival rides will no longer stay open past 9 P.M. for the remainder of the fair, and will be shut down "on the spot" at the first sign of trouble. The Olmsted County Sheriff’s Office says it is also increasing its presence at the fair.
Sheriff Kevin Torgerson has a message for parents - "Don't drop your kids off, juveniles off, at the fair unattended. This is not a daycare center, it's not a place to let your kids run off somewhere and let your kids go burn some energy for a couple of hours if they're going to cause problems."
The sheriff says he's not even sure his office has an accurate count of all these disruptive incidents, as many go unreported.
OCSO however encourages families to keep attending the fair, saying in a statement, "the Olmsted County Fair is still a very safe event for all people to attend for people who want to have a fun time, see the exhibits, and enjoy fair food. Please do not let these incidents interfere with your opportunity to have some good clean fun."