EFFIE, Minn. -- The North Star Stampede, a three-day summer event promoted as the largest outdoor rodeo in the state, is set to happen this weekend in Effie; but as pandemic concerns still loom, so does controversy over the event’s imposed spectator limit, which has sparked a call for protest among fans.
According to an article by the Star Tribune, the Minnesota Department of Health and the state Attorney General’s Office imposed a spectator limit at the event due to COVID-19 concerns.
Typically, the venue’s maximum capacity can hold about 530 spectators; but due to Gov. Tim Walz’s executive order, which restricts large public gatherings during the pandemic, attendance must be limited to 25% capacity, or 132 spectators.
After learning this information, the event’s organizer Cimarron Pitzen took to Facebook Wednesday night, creating a post that has elicited a response from rodeo fans to protest at the event and assert their constitutional right to peaceable assembly.
“Thanks to John Olson from the Minnesota Department of Health and Jason Pleggenkuhle from the Attorney General's office pushing their political agendas, The North Star Stampede will take place with no spectators,” Pitzen said in his Facebook post. “If people would like to come and protest against this ridiculous government over reach, feel free to do so, I will not stand in the way of peoples ‘Right to Assemble.’”
Currently, there are no plans to prevent visitors from entering the rodeo grounds, but the state health department has warned that it intends to enforce the order, the Star Tribune article said.
“We will always first seek to work with parties to help them come into compliance,” MDH said in a statement to the Star Tribune. “But we owe it to all Minnesotans to not allow willful violators to disregard or endanger the health of their employees, neighbors and community members.”