Fifteen to 20 juveniles caused disturbances Tuesday night at the Rock County 4-H Fair, leading the sheriff’s office to increase the number of deputies on the fairgrounds.
Capt. Mark Thompson of the sheriff’s office said juveniles stole a vendor’s tip jar in one of several minor thefts. He would release few details but characterized the behavior as unruly and disorderly.
No injuries were reported, and no weapons were involved, Thompson said.
Thompson said deputies do not anticipate problems, “but we’re going to be prepared. We really want (to send) the message that it’s really safe to go to the fair.”
Thompson said the incidents involving kids ages 12 to 17 started around 7 or 7:30 p.m., and “a couple” of juveniles were arrested.
Fair Board President Dylan George called the events isolated.
George said sheriff’s deputies do a great job of dealing with problems that arise every year at the fair, “and it doesn’t become an issue at all, and I don’t think this is any different than that.”
“You get a group of people together, and sometimes there are issues, but we deal with everything in a good way.” George added. “There was no safety issue. There were no safety concerns. This was a nuisance, a petty theft, and it was handled properly by the sheriff’s department.”
George issued a statement later Wednesday, saying 8,450 people attended the fair Tuesday and that the fair is proud of the sheriff’s office and the fair’s plans that “help us deal with the 0.03% of visitors who want to cause disruption.”
Two of the fair’s five gates will be closed starting at 3 p.m. for the rest of the fair, according to the statement.
All gates will be open from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Gate 2, near the carnival on Memorial Drive, and Gate 5, at the corner of Randall and Craig avenues, will close each day at 3 p.m. while the others will be open until 11 p.m.
“We work closely with our board members, volunteers and community partners to ensure a fun, educational and safe event every year,” the statement reads.
“When it comes to safety, our partnership with the Rock County Sheriff’s Office ensures we have a plan to have a safe, family-friendly fair,” it continues. “Last night, we put our plan into action when a group of juveniles caused disruptions for the purpose of petty theft. We will continue to rely on our plan to ensure that this year’s fair is one of our best.”