More safety measures at this year's St. Jude Sweet Corn Festival
The St. Jude Sweet Corn Festival kicks off Friday in Cedar Rapids and promises a fun filled weekend for families
Yet, past violence at city events, including this festival, prompted organizers to be more proactive about safety measures on the festival grounds.
In 2016, a large fight broke out on the busiest day of the sweet corn festival, which left some families worried if it could happen again.
"One officer got hit during that, and then it just kind of turned into a big mob scene," said festival co-chair Steve Oldridge.
Cedar Rapids police said roughly 70 juveniles were involved in the brawl, six of which faced criminal charges.
"There were some people that didn't come back last year because of what took place in 2016," said Oldridge.
"I think that's important to not be afraid because we as the St. Jude parish because we want it to be a family fun activity for everybody to come to," said festival chair Karen Farmer.
Farmer said they are working on improving safety year by year, with close input from CRPD.
"Because you can't do it all at once," she said.
"Last year we put up a fence around the perimeter of the grounds and we had two access points into the grounds, which everybody coming to the festival have to go through," said Oldridge.
Organizers said they added festival fees since 2016 to help cover extra costs to add these security measures.
This year, everyone ages 11 to 59 is charged $5 dollars.
"There's going to be more police presence on the grounds as well as some of the past [chairs] are going to be on the grounds later in the evening," said Oldridge.
They will also be adding lighting outside the festival grounds, which police said could discourage some bad behavior.
"We've got portable lighting like you might see at a construction site at night time, and that way we can focus light up [on] the grassy area up towards first avenue, so people won't congregate in that area maybe so much," said Oldridge.