by Jennie Zeitler, Staff Writer
Follow-up reports were presented to the County Board Tuesday by Mud Fest organizers Ron and Ralph Rinkel and Sheriff Michel Wetzel.
The Rinkels reported that roughly 1,400 people attended. The food stand was open for 54 hours, with 63 people working there.
“They’ve always done a great job with the food and the camping has improved,” said Public Health Director Bonnie Paulsen.
Board Members Randy Winscher and Kevin Maurer both spent time observing at the Mud Fest event during Memorial Day weekend.
“I saw some violations of your permits,” Winscher said. “What disappoints me mostly is that the pit should be pretty easy to police, but I watched a truck with a windshield completely covered in mud come out of the pit and drive to the campground.”
“If a truck comes out of the pit covered in mud and is allowed to continue with or without an escort, that is a problem,” said Commissioner Jeff Jelinski.
“We had enough people working security,” said Ron.
“There were not enough people or that vehicle would not have been allowed to leave the pit,” Jelinski responded.
Maurer described being at Mud Fest for five hours.
“I’m impressed with the progress that was made,” he said, “but improvements need to be made with the mud pit and cleaning windshields. Security wasn’t focused on where the most problems could happen — the mud pit. I didn’t see anyone from Security Specialists (the Rinkels’ security firm) near the pit.”
Wetzel was also at Mud Fest on two different days. He observed all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) with more than two people on them.
“It should be noted permitting two passengers plus an operator on an ATV was a condition that the Rinkels said they would not permit to occur,” he said.
Wetzel noted multiple drivers of ATVs holding open cans of beer, also a listed prohibition of the permit. He observed an ATV operator in the mud pit get pinned under a vehicle
“I seem to recall that if someone violated any of the conditions, they would be kicked out,” Jelinski said.
“Many people were put out on Sunday,” Ralph said.
Mike from Security Specialists said, “We were mostly trying to keep things contained. We threw several people out who were warned and we parked several vehicles for the event.”
“You’d think as many years as we’ve been doing this we’d have it all done. There’s always something more that can be done better,” Ron said. “I will never agree to 100 percent of anything. I won’t be put on the spot.”
“You can’t be in every place all the time, but watching the pit needs to be done all the time,” Jelinski said. “Mud Fest is different than any other event we hold in the county, with giant trucks, people all over and alcohol consumption — more potential danger. The main issue is that rules are meant to be followed.”
The Labor Day weekend Mud Fest permit request will be presented to the Board Tuesday.