Minnesota Renaissance Festival Will Continue, Pending Changes
Five months before it's supposed to begin, the status of the 2023 Minnesota Renaissance Festival is finally a bit clearer.
According to AXIOS Twin Cities, Tuesday (March 21) in Shakopee, the Scott County Board of Commissioners unanimously adopted a resolution approving an amendment to the festival's Conditional Use Permit, giving Mid-America Festivals Corporation, which organizes the Minnesota Renaissance Festival, permission to move forward with this year's event, if they agree to update plans to resolve parking and traffic problems.
An amendment will require the festival to:
- Create and present a transit and traffic management plan for approval on June 1
- Secure bussing options, 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
- Issue date-specific parking vouchers for each vehicle
The 2023 event is scheduled to run this year for seven weekends from August 19 through October 1.
In December 2022, officials in Scott County announced they were considering revoking the festival's permit to operate after roads leading to the venue were plagued by massive traffic jams during the 2022 event.
The county said officials at Mid-America were aware there would be reduced parking this year after a lease had expired on a lot that provided ten percent of the total on-site parking, but that information was never relayed to local officials.
At times during the festival's seven-week run from late August to early October, attendees reported waits of up to two hours to get a parking spot.
During an earlier public hearing on the matter, some local residents testified that they were unable to leave their homes because of traffic jams in the area.
One area patio furniture shop owner claimed that 80 percent of the local businesses around the site shut down during festival weekends because customers couldn't get to their establishments.
The event has grown into one of the country's largest and most successful Renaissance fairs, attracting about 300,000 people each year.
It has been operating at the current site since 1973.