Mar 21, 2023 - News

Minnesota Renaissance Festival given 10 weeks to address parking and traffic issues or shut down

Fairgoers at the Minnesota Renaissance Festival. Photo: Bruce Bisping/Star Tribune via Getty Images

Scott County is giving the Minnesota Renaissance Festival 10 weeks to come up with a traffic and parking management plan, or else officials will shut down the event.

Context: Traffic to get into last year's festival in Shakopee was often backed up for miles — blocking major area roads and frustrating fairgoers and Scott County residents.

What's happening: An amendment approved at a Scott County Board of Commissioners meeting Tuesday requires, among other things, that operator Mid-America Festivals Corporation:

  • Create and present a transit and traffic management plan for approval on June 1.
  • Secure bussing options, potentially including park and ride lots, and encourage patrons to take the bus.
  • Hire a professional parking company to manage the site.
  • Implement a real-time messaging system to show if lots are full.

Plus: A date-specific parking voucher will be required for each vehicle, and 5,000-7,000 will be issued per day, depending on if the other requirements are met.

Reality check: Neither county staff nor the festival could share details on what a potential traffic management plan would look like. A festival spokesperson said at the meeting that "the plan will come later."

The other side: Several commissioners added that they didn't want to shut down the festival and had hope for the future.

  • "I wish it didn't have to get to this point, but I think we've got something better that's worth going forward with," board chair Tom Wolf said.

What we're watching: Mid-America Festivals Corporation will present its plans to the board on June 1. The Renaissance Festival can't operate unless the proposals are approved.

  • It's scheduled to run this year on weekends from Aug. 19-Oct. 1, Labor Day and Sept. 29.
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