Entertainment venues look at additional security measures following unruly behavior
In about three months, the State Fairgrounds will be flooding with thousands of people. While there is excitement, there are also concerns due to troubles in the past.
Richard Ellingson of Minneapolis has been going to the fair since 1954. His love for the food, rides and attractions keeps him coming back.
“It’s just the greatest event in the state of Minnesota, you know, 12 days of fun,” Ellingson said.
But concerns are creeping in as the fair approaches.
“I know there’s a few problems last few years with some young kids running around kind of wilding,” Ellingson said.
Last year, 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS cameras captured hundreds of fairgoers scattering after a gunshot and brawl, which led to an early closure. Authorities say the chaos was caused by a group of youth.
The year before that, a large group of people, including a man with a gun, tried to storm the main gates.
“We have more than doubled our security budget since 2019,” the Minnesota State Fair’s incoming CEO, Renee Alexander, said.
Alexander said the State Fair is reviewing security plans. When asked if the plans would include a chaperone policy she said, “We’ll make decisions as we get closer to the fair as far as any changes we would make to our security.”
In other entertainment venues, Valleyfair requires anyone 15 and younger to be supervised by someone 21 or older if they want to enter or remain in the park past 4 p.m.
The Valleyfair website cited recent problems for the change, stating, “Over the past two years, there have been increasing incidents of unruly and inappropriate behavior across our industry and at other major entertainment venues.”
A similar rule has been in place for years at Mall of America.
Despite unruly behavior, state fairgoers aren’t letting it stop them from having fun.
“Yes, I feel safe. I don’t really let that dictate too much of what I do and how I live,” said Jonas Penna of St. Paul.
In 2021, the State Fair added metal detectors and banned weapons from entering the fairgrounds, which received pushback from gun rights activities.