The Olmsted County Fair's first year back from the pandemic proved to be an eventful one — but not in a way local authorities or fairgoers preferred.
On Friday, fair officials, along with Olmsted County Sheriff Kevin Torgerson, announced that groups of 50 or 60 "mostly unescorted" juveniles had been causing problems and causing "fear" and "overall concern" about safety at the event.
In a press conference, which you can watch in the video below, Sheriff Torgerson said that the groups had been showing up, "generally after 6" p.m., and "doing everything they can do to look for trouble and create problems."
Fair official Scott Schneider said that the youths, who have been "fighting with each other" and causing other disturbances, "ran over a 2-year-old" girl on Thursday.
"It's their goal to disrupt and provoke," Schneider also remarked.
As a result, the fair board, along with local law enforcement, decided to shut down the midway — the carnival area where most of the disturbances have taken place — at dark for the remainder of the fair.
Further, Torgerson said the midway would close earlier if there were any incidents.
The response also included an increased law enforcement presence, Torgerson noted, promising that any juvenile offenders who return to the fair after being escorted out will be arrested for trespassing.
"Don't drop your kids off... at the fair if they're unattended," the sheriff said in an appeal to the public. "This is not a daycare center, it's not a place to let your kids go burn off some energy..."
When asked how the disturbances compared to previous years, Schneider stepped in and remarked that while there "were issues" during past fairs, this year has been different due to people being "bottled up" from the pandemic.
"These kids, now they're just not going away," Schneider said.
Torgerson remarked that it's "probably been one of the worst years" at the fair in terms of juvenile delinquency.
Reporters at the scene asked about an incident that happened earlier in the week, but Torgerson declined to comment.
As ABC 6 reported, a 15-year-old girl was arrested Wednesday night after "swearing and kicking garbage cans," with a large group of teens "spitting and kicking deputies" as they tried to escort her from the scene.
The station says the girl could be facing possible charges related to the incident.
The Olmsted County Fair kicked off July 26 and ends Sunday, August 1.