Neighbors organize volunteers to patrol the Minnesota State Fair

ST. Paul, Minn. – This year, keeping the Minnesota State Fair safe won’t stop with badge wearers.

Neighbors living nearby are organizing their own volunteer patrols, which will be a conspicuous and friendly presence.

“Tension is high [during the fair]Jennifer Victor-Larsen, one of the main organizers of the effort, said it’s especially, you know, when parking is difficult and people are just nervous to get in.

More than 120 neighbors, many of whom live a quarter of a mile from the fairgrounds, volunteered to walk through the streets outside the fair.

“People want to buy in ways that they can help their neighbors and keep their families safe,” said Kate McCreight, another lead organizer.

Victor-Larsen, McCreight and Cindy Mitsch felt compelled to organize patrols because of the violence of the past years and other issues that went beyond typical annoyances.



There will be block leaders called “connectors” with urgent text strings and daily email updates. The neighbors will help if anything gets too stressful.

“We will be walking around the neighborhoods, interacting with young people,” said Joel Franklin, executive director of the Community Ambassadors Initiative. “If there’s a problem with young people, we de-escalate and intervene.”
Community Ambassadors is a non-profit organization of St. Paul with many years of experience in reaching out to young people. They will be out every night of the fair from 5pm to midnight.

McCreight says patrols will wear neon green T-shirts that read “How can I help? I’m a neighbor.”

“People are often out parking or just talking to other neighbors during this time, so it’s a more planned and coordinated effort,” she said.

Patrols are supported by law enforcement. State officials said on Tuesday the threat level to the fair was extremely low. There will be metal detectors and hundreds of officers inside and out.

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