The Virgil Stampede has always had its ups and downs with regards to how some people choose to conduct themselves.
This year was no different, according to a Niagara Regional Police constable who spoke at a Virgil Business Association meeting in June.
The problem, he said, seems to be getting worse and worse, with the main instigators being teenagers from out of town.
He said police broke up three fights during the stampede weekend, among them one between carnival workers and a group of teens.
The teens decided to start harassing one of the carnival employees, he said, causing the fight to break out.
The fight was broken up rather quickly and several of the teens were arrested, but he said incidents like this could be more preventable.
He suggested measures to help prevent trouble makers from getting into the stampede, such as limiting the entrance to one section, lowering the age for free admission to 12, and doing backpack searches for everyone who attends, similar to a concert setting.
VBA members seemed to generally agree with the suggestions, noting the location has the advantage of already being completely fenced in, and that it wouldn’t be very hard to block off the entrance on Loretta Drive.
The officer said another problem officers face is teens bringing in alcohol and drugs.
Backpack searches, he suggested, would be a good prevention method — one he thinks parents of younger kids would appreciate.
He said this year he confiscated alcohol from a child as young as 12, and older teens were reported doing “what they call blow” in the bathroom.
The types of kids who bring in alcohol and drugs also tend not to contribute to the stampede by spending money on food and rides, he said, adding he doesn’t think lowering the age limit and cracking down on security should be a revenue concern, as he predicts it would have a minimal effect of profits.
This year the carnival closed early one night, he said, because nobody was spending any money.
“They’re not contributing anything,” he said, of the types of kids who are just there to cause trouble.
He said something needs to happen, as times are changing, and police have a tougher job than ever enforcing the law.
“And parents don’t support us,” he said.
He said most times parents take the side of their child and think the police are in the wrong.
VBA members agreed there is a lot to be done to increase security for future years, as times have changed.
No official decisions have been made yet, but VBA secretary Marcia Penner said there will be something done to ramp up security for next year.
The stampede is not the only venue police have encouraged increased security, the officer said.
“Times are changing. I’m not sure if parents aren’t disciplining their kids or what.”