Fight erupts at Richland County Fair

MANSFIELD, Ohio -- The final night of the Richland County Fair ended a bit earlier than planned after a fight on the midway Saturday night.

Richland County Sheriff's Office Major Joe Masi said the office was monitoring the midway from the Ohio Homeland Security's SkyWatch tower when staff observed a large group of people gathering below between 10:30 and 10:45 p.m. Saturday.

"It appeared to be a disturbance or a fight," Masi said.

Masi said the group in front of Fairhaven Hall near the flagpole included about 75 to 100 people, mostly juveniles and young adults.

“It seemed like it just involved a handful of people, and the rest were spectators," he said.

Video of the moment was posted on Facebook -- WARNING: Some may find the content disturbing:

Richland County Agricultural Society President Jason Snyder said in a social media video he watched of the incident, it only appeared four or five people were involved in the fight, while the rest were watching it.

The sheriff's office asked for additional assistance from area law enforcement. The Mansfield Police Department, Ontario Police Department and Ohio Highway Patrol responded to the scene.

"When we got to the area, the crowd quickly dispersed," Masi said.

Masi reported there were no injures in the incident, and the people in the crowd quickly left the fairgrounds. 

The fair then closed a few minutes early, ahead of its planned 11 p.m. closing time on the last night of the fair.

Snyder also said a person stole a tip jar off a concession booth trailer and fled the fairgrounds.

Snyder said the person was apprehended by a couple of fair board members and a sheriff's deputy on Home Road a short time later.

Snyder said he did not know how much money was in the jar, but he estimated it was relatively full, as Saturday was the busiest day of the fair this year, and the jar had been out all day. 

Masi said he had no information on the reported tip jar theft.

Masi said the cause of the midway fight remains unknown at this time. He said the sheriff's office will be investigating surveillance footage taken during the fight this week, and charges could be possible in the future.

"Oftentimes, it's because of social media," Masi said of these kinds of incidents. "It appears that things escalate, and somehow, it seems over recent years that they congregate at the fairgrounds. And if there's a dispute, it seems they gather there to handle it."

Snyder said he was disappointed in the fight at the fair's close, but he said the incident was the only negative aspect of an otherwise successful week. 

"It was a great day up until then, and a great week," he said. "We didn't have any incidents. A couple people can ruin it for everyone."

Copyright: Mansfield News Journal


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