SCOTT COUNTY, Minn. — After months of uncertainty around the future of the Minnesota Renaissance Festival, the annual event is another step closer to officially moving forward this year.
Tuesday morning, 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, the green light to move forward with updated plans to resolve parking and traffic problems.
As part of the resolution, MAF has agreed to improve "insufficient" conditions through measures like hiring a professional parking firm, eliminating free parking, requiring same-day parking vouchers, and limiting the number of vehicles parking onsite.
MAF still has to submit an "overarching" Transit Service Agreement and Transit Plan to Scott County by June 1.
Last month, the board postponed a decision to approve the resolution, saying organizers needed to provide more details about how they'll address traffic concerns.
Ahead of the vote, Vice Chair Barb Weckman Brekke reiterated how important it will be for festival organizers to follow through with the approved changes.
"I feel pretty confident that his CUP is so much improved, that if the applicant does not meet the conditions required, we're at a whole different conversation next year," Weckman Brekke said.
"We’ve got to meet these conditions or this partnership we all have is not going to work," she added.
Among the amendments and changes to the CUP are:
- Requiring parking vouchers for each patron's vehicle to park onsite and issuing no more than 8,000 parking vouchers for each day of the Renaissance Festival
- Improving parking efficiency and speed by delineating parking rows, creating busing hubs or holding areas, creating additional internal roads for stacking of cars, enhancing internal signage, increasing the number of internal shuttle buses to get patrons from parking lots to the front gate, adding a drive lane to the entire length of the entrance to Green Lot, and widen entry points at Kings Lot
- Securing opportunities for festival patrons to travel to and from the festival by bus and encouraging people to use those services
The Minnesota Renaissance Festival began in 1971 and draws about 300,000 visitors each year. This year, the festival is slated to run on weekends from Aug. 19 through Oct. 1, and on Friday, Sept. 29.
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