Organizers of rodeo festival face $21,000 in fines and liquor-related charges

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The organizers of a rodeo-music festival held in Bridgeville on Sunday face $21,000 in fines and other possible administrative actions related to alcohol beverage regulations.

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WHYY photo via Facebook

Three administrative charges were filed against the licensee, Mexican Folkloric Dance Society of New York, in connection with the outdoor rodeo festival hosted in Bridgeville last weekend and two previous indoor events in northern Delaware.

WHYY reported that the event attracted 1,500 with many of the attendees appear to be packed into a small area. Troopers were called to the scene and while halting late attendees decided the best course of action was to let the event continue.

The Division of Alcohol and Tobacco Enforcement (DATE) officers, who investigated the rodeo festival, charged Alex Garcia, director of this non-profit organization.

The charges stem from violations of the State of Emergency Order citing patrons dancing, not wearing masks, not social distancing and exceeding the maximum number of patrons allowed inside the event.

DATE learned that the group held similar events on August 28 and September 4 at an indoor venue on Kirkwood Highway in violation the State of Emergency.

Garcia must appear before the Office of Alcohol Beverage Control Commissioner John Cordrey at a later date.

Alcohol regulators denied a separate application for a gathering license for two additional Wilmington events scheduled for this weekend due to the public safety risk.

“While most liquor licensees take social distancing directives seriously during these challenging times this case serves as a reminder that some licensees place others at a health risk by not complying with those standards,” said DATE Director John Yeomans. “Everyone has an obligation to engage in social distancing practices to keep themselves and others safe, especially our vulnerable populations”.

In addition, the Division of Public Health issued an administrative penalty to the Sept. 6 event organizers, Rancho El 24 and Mexican Folkloric Dance Society of New York.

Due to the severe non-compliance of the Governor’s State of Emergency order, the division assessed an administrative penalty of $21,000 ($10,000 each for face covering and social distancing violations, $1,000 for failure to secure proper approval).

DPH reviewed photo and video documentation of the rodeo event held September 6 at Rancho El 24 in Bridgeville. The documentation confirmed that this event was not in compliance with the current restrictions in place to reduce transmission of COVID-19.

In addition, DPH has confirmed with the Delaware Division of Small Business that a permit for a gathering with more than 250 people was not secured.

Photos and video from the event showed:

  • Lack of face coverings by attendees, as required by the Twenty-Seventh Modification of the Declaration of a State of Emergency for the State of Delaware.
  • Lack of social distancing by attendees, as required by the Twenty-Seventh Modification of the Declaration of a State of Emergency for the State of Delaware.

DPH informed the event organizers that penalties issued by the Division of Public Health may be reduced if the following actions are taken to assist any potential contact tracing efforts within seven days of receipt of the enforcement notice:

  • Provide contact information for all performers, spectators, staff, and others that attended the event. This must include the name and phone number or email for attendees.
  • Provide contact information for promoters, organizers, or others involved in the production of the event.

“We want to ensure accountability for those acting in an irresponsible manner,” said DPH Director Dr. Karyl Rattay. “Delawareans and Delaware businesses have made tremendous sacrifices over the months and an event like this counters all of the efforts that have taken place.”

The State of Delaware is holding a special testing program in Bridgeville area for people who attended the event or might have been exposed to those at the festival

While the outdoors reduces the possibility of contracting Covid-19, the crowds being in close proximity over a long people of time without face coverings increase the chances that the virus will spread and could lead to a super spreading event.

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