MINNEAPOLIS (CN) – County and town fairs across Minnesota laid out thousands of dollars to a no-show carnival company, the state attorney general claims in court.
The complaint filed Thursday in Anoka County District Court says Minnesota’s Magic Midway Inc., otherwise known as E.A.R. Carnival Co., had been approaching county and town fairs since at least 2012 to run their summer carnivals.
After owner Edwin Reinke collected down payments of up to $8,500, however, he never delivered the promised rides and cotton candy, and denied refunds.
“The local fair is a quintessential part of summer in Minnesota,” Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson said in a statement. “This company not only dampened the fun but took limited resources from small counties and towns throughout the state.”
The Star Tribune reports that Swanson filed the suit in advance of an industry conference held in Bloomington in which towns and counties can meet carnival operators.
The lawsuit lists six fairs that Reinke allegedly fleeced.
The Big Stone County Fair and Kittson County Fair each hired the company in 2012. While Big Stone paid a down payment of $5,000, Kittson laid out $8,500, according to he complaint.
Reinke allegedly called the morning of the Big Stone fair to say the company would not be coming because too many employees had quit.
Reinke called the Sunday before Kittson’s fair, according to the complaint.
The Jackson County Fair wound up not having a carnival in 2013 when Reinke left it high and dry, after taking a $3,000 down payment, the complaint states.
Swanson says Reinke pulled the same act with Montrose Days in 2014, withholding a $2,500 payment.
Reinke’s victims last year were New London Water Days and the Fillmore County Fair.
Someone who answered Reinke’s phone when New London Water Days tried to track them down lied that Reinke had died, saying the phone was interrupting a family prayer circle, according to the complaint
The company allegedly cited health reasons as to why it canceled Fillmore’s contract, for which a $2,000 down payment remains outstanding.
Swanson says New London Water Days obtained an unspecified refund after organizers threatened to contact the media and the Attorney General’s Office.
“The festival had to scramble to hire a replacement company,” Swanson’s office said in a statement.
Swanson seeks an injunction and restitution for the counties and towns.
Two phone numbers for Reinke’s company were busy Thursday.Swanson’s office has not returned a call seeking comment.
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