REGIONAL- Operators of the North Star Stampede rodeo in Effie are facing the possibility of thousands of dollars of fines after Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison filed a court action on Friday …
REGIONAL- Operators of the North Star Stampede rodeo in Effie are facing the possibility of thousands of dollars of fines after Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison filed a court action on Friday alleging multiple violations of Gov. Tim Walz’s executive order regarding outdoor entertainment venues at last week’s event.
The complaint, filed in Itasca County District Court, alleged ten separate violations of the order, including such things as failure to limit occupancy to 25 percent of capacity, failure to provide for assigned seating to ensure proper social distancing, allowing the rodeo clown to engage in demonstrations and activities, and failure to ensure social distancing was maintained between household groups.
Ellison is asking the court for civil penalties of up to $25,000 for the violations. Ellison is also seeking restitution of all costs associated with bringing the court action.
The complaint states that on July 22, representatives of the Attorney General’s office and state Health Department contacted Cimarron Pitzen, owner, president, and manager of North Star Ranch, to discuss Pitzen’s plans for complying with the required guidance for outdoor events. Pitzen allegedly became angry during the call and hung up. The complaint states that Pitzen did not respond to additional attempts to contact him.
The complaint provides detailed descriptions of alleged violations for each of the three official days of the event, and includes multiple photos taken each day to illustrate them.
The Department of Health issued a release on Friday indicating that an individual who attended the rodeo was diagnosed with COVID-19 on Monday, July 27, and that those who were in attendance at the event should take appropriate precautions to limit the potential spread of the virus.
Health officials are still investigating and trying to determine whom the person may have come into contact with while they were at the rodeo. Health department information officer Doug Schultz confirmed for the Timberjay that the individual was in attendance from Thursday, July 23 through Sunday, July 26. The person became symptomatic on Monday, July 27 and tested positive for COVID-19 the same day.
“If you attended this event, you should consider yourself potentially exposed,” health commissioner Jan Malcolm said in the release.
She advised anyone who attended the rodeo to watch for symptoms of COVID-19. If attendees develop symptoms, they should seek treatment and get tested. She also asked attendees to limit their public interactions and activities for for 14 days, practice social distancing, and wear masks in all interactions with others.
“Our concern with this situation is heightened because we know that many people at this event were not wearing masks or practicing social distancing,” said Kris Ehresmann, director of infectious disease at the Minnesota Department of Health.
Read the Attorney General press release.
Read the formal court filing.