Sweet Corn Festival organizers hope admission fee keeps event incident-free

Decision to charge $3 comes in wake of fight last year

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CEDAR RAPIDS — Organizers of the St. Jude Sweet Corn Festival hope that instituting an admission fee for the event will help achieve the desired effect of keeping the gathering safe for visitors.

Festival attendees will pay $3 to get in this year, said festival chairwoman Molly Glynn. Kids ages 10 and younger will get in free, as will adults 60 and older.

Glynn said the Cedar Rapids Police Department actually suggested two years ago organizers charge admission to the event, as well as fence the festival grounds and search bags, Glynn said. While a fence was put up, Glynn said organizers were resistant to charge admission.

“We really didn’t want to go as far as charging admission,” Glynn said. “We want families to be able to come.”

That position changed after a series of events last year, however, Glynn said.

Glynn said last year the event was quiet on Friday night, but Saturday was a different story.

“It was a whole different crowd Saturday,” she said. “Things started looking like it was going to get bad. You could tell the crowd, they just weren’t really friendly.”

Police were ultimately called to the festival to respond to multiple fights, including one involving about 70 juvenile combatants. During the brawl, a Cedar Rapids police officer was jumped by a 16-year-old boy, who was arrested for assault on a peace officer. Four other juveniles were cited for disorderly conduct.

The melee prompted police to ask organizers to shut the festival down early for the evening.

Glynn said the belief is Friday night was quiet because the people who showed up to cause trouble thought admission was being charged. When the word got out that there was no admission being charged, those who were ultimately involved in the brawls showed up Saturday night.

“After that happened, we just felt we really had to listen to the police’s advice,” she said.

In addition to charging admission, organizers will be continuing to check begs at entrances this year. Items such as backpacks, weapons, bikes, scooters, coolers, skateboards and outside food will not be allowed in.

Cedar Rapids public safety spokesman Greg Buelow said officers will be at the event to assist with checkpoints, parking and to provide security within the event.

“The organizers have made it clear that they want responsible behavior at the event,” he said. “Organizers can ask officers to remove individuals that are not demonstrating appropriate behavior.”

The festival takes place from 5 to 11:30 p.m. Friday, 11 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. Saturday and noon to 6 p.m. Sunday at St. Jude Catholic Church, 50 Edgewood Rd. NW.

l Comments: (319) 398-8238; lee.hermiston@thegazette.com

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