Renaissance Festival traffic raises concerns

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As thousands make their way to Shakopee for the Renaissance Festival, Scott County officials are addressing concerns related to traffic congestion.

On Tuesday, county commissioners discussed the topic during a portion of a scheduled board meeting after a resident and business owner brought up the issue.

“I can’t take that traffic anymore,” said Bob Peiper, a Scott County business owner.

Peiper spoke at the Scott County Board of Commissioners meeting earlier this week.

“At 8:30 in the morning, traffic was already backed up from the Renaissance Festival parking lot, past my driveway,” Peiper said.

For more than 50 seasons, this festival attracts thousands to Shakopee on weekends from late August to early October. Peiper says, along this route, vehicles are backed up so far on Ren Fest days that his customers can’t get to his furniture business.

“I virtually had to close my business for the day, I can’t have customers waiting in line that long,” Peiper said.

“I had residents and businesses calling with some complaints,” said Barb Weckman Brekke, a Scott County commissioner.

Weckman Brekke understands the concerns.

“We do work with the Ren Fest and neighbors on traffic and traffic management but there’s always a few hiccups,” Weckman Brekke said.

That’s why she’s offering up one possible immediate solution: use the Marschall Road Transit Station.

“You can park here, ride the bus just a few miles down the road, get in much quicker, get out much quicker and I really encourage folks to do that,” Weckman Brekke said.

One thing that’s new this year is there are cameras at both entrances. County officials say they plan to use them to get a better idea of how many vehicles are entering each day.

“We’ll use that in planning for next year because as growth has happened around Ren Fest, they’ve lost some parking, we’re going to need to work with them to figure out how they can be successful without impeding others around them,” Weckman Brekke said.

With thousands more expected to make this trip for the next two weekends, business owners like Peiper are only looking for a fair shot.

“I don’t feel like they have the right to tie up other businesses,” Peiper said.

“I would just encourage festivalgoers to have some patience be safe and just think about not blocking people’s driveways and businesses if they are waiting in line,” Weckman Brekke added.

5 EYEWITNESS NEWS did reach out to organizers with the Renaissance Festival for comment regarding the parking situation but hasn’t heard back.

For more information on parking and transportation options, click here.