BELTON, Mo. — A portion of a Belton, Missouri event “150 years in the making” was cut short this weekend. City leaders shut down the carnival at the sesquicentennial celebration citing safety and staffing concerns.
“It was a great event for the community to come together and celebrate our city and 150 years and living in Belton,” Belton 150th Anniversary Celebration Co-Chair Michelle Mellinger said.
But organizers who spent months planning the event with the tagline “A celebration 150 years in the making” say they realized they had problems in the making shortly after the carnival at Memorial Park opened Saturday.
The city said operators Carnie King only brought half the rides for older children or adults as promised then one broke down. Belton leaders add one of the ride operators expressed concerns to police about having to operate two rides.
Tensions seemed to boil over when a customer reported finding glass or plastic in their shaved ice. So they first tried to shut down the operators concessions while they investigated, but say Carnie King literally pulled the plug on a bounce house first.
“One of the carnival people got upset and pulled the power cord and the air started going out of it with kids still inside of it so they were pretty upset but no reason to do what they did,” Mayor Norman Larkey Sr. said.
Carnie King’s owner said the child was on the front step and never in danger and it disputes the staffing and safety concerns saying it’s the first time it’s ever had one of it’s carnivals shut down during the event by a municipality in 30 years.
While the city says the carnival was continuing to sell tickets to families with children too tall to ride any of the rides, the operator says someone selling fake tickets led to confrontations with patrons only complicating matters.
But organizers of the four-day celebration say disappointment at the park with the carnival closed by 4pm Saturday shouldn’t take away from memories made downtown on Main Street all weekend long. Hometown country singer Tate Stevens headlined musical performances Saturday night.
“It was a huge event more people than I’ve seen on Main St. and I’ve been around for 55 years,” Larkey said.
“When you can add those types of fun facts to a festival that you were bringing I think everything was a win win yes we had that little hiccup but overall this was an absolute true success story,” co-chair Diane Huckshorn said.
If you purchased admission to the carnival for Saturday or Sunday the city will be issuing refunds. As long as you have your ticket or wristband give City Hall a call to get your $15 back.
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