State Fair says Ron Paul drummer can’t march to candidate’s beat outside booth

"I was just trying to direct people to the booth, so they could discuss important issues," said Colin Wilkinson.
MinnPost photo by Joe Kimball
“I was just trying to direct people to the booth, so they could discuss important issues,” said Colin Wilkinson.

Colin Wilkinson of St. Paul was at the State Fair Sunday, dressed in his patriot garb and rattling his snare drum to draw attraction to the Ron Paul for President booth on Nelson Street.

He was part of the general Fair cacophony, standing across from the DRN fish pond and near the KARE-11 booth and the reptile barn.

But about 3 p.m., Wilkinson was told by State Fair officials to stop the drumbeat.

“I was just informed that if I want to play my drum, I have to sign a contract and then stay inside the booth,” Wilkinson said.

This was very upsetting news for a libertarian.

“I was just trying to direct people to the booth, so they could discuss important issues,” said Wilkinson, who is often seen at conservative public gatherings, drumming in his uniform.

State Fair spokesperson Brienna Schuette said there’s a Fair policy about such things.

“It’s a very interesting history; it goes back to the Hare Krishnas [the religious sect that used to hand out information at airports and the Fair],” Schuette said.

“In order to do business on the fairgrounds, you have to be a licensed commercial space holder and do all you business within the confines of that licensed space.”

So Wilkinson, unlicensed, not officially affiliated with the Paul booth and doing his stick shtick outside the booth, didn’t have a chance with the Fair folks.

He said he doesn’t plan to sign a contract with the Paul booth, because even then, he’d have to play inside the tiny booth. “That would drive them crazy,” he said.

Marianne Stebbins, the Ron Paul state coordinator, agreed.

Stebbins said that Paul won’t be coming to this year’s Fair. “We tried to get him, but he’s very busy in Iowa and New Hampshire.”

And this is the first year that the Fair has had a Paul booth, she said.

Do Republican fair-goers, here in Minnesota, talk to Paul supporters about Michele Bachmann?

“The people who come to our booth are already supporters, or want to learn more about him. We don’t hear much about the other candidates,” Stebbins said.

As for Wilkinson, he riffed a little more on his drum, chanting “Ron Paul, Ron Paul,” just to make a point.

He said he’d been drumming at the Paul booth on Saturday, too, and was told then only that he had to stay inside the booth. He got around that by leaning against a wall, he said.

He said he’d also been in costume at the Fair drumming for the Minnesota Voters Allliance at the 1280 radio booth, and at the Republican Party booth.

As an aside, Wilkinson said his home on St. Paul’s East Side had been burglarized two days earlier. He’d reported it to police but doesn’t hold much hope that they’ll find the perpetrator.

“They can stop me from drumming, but they won’t find the burglar,” he said.

Comments (9)

  1. Submitted by James Hamilton on 08/29/2011 - 04:02 pm.

    I’m sure they’ll catch the burglar if he starts parading around town in Mr. Wilkinson’s spare costume, calling attention to himself with a drum.

  2. Submitted by scott cantor on 08/29/2011 - 04:35 pm.

    One person’s burglary investigation is another’s knee-jerk, big government overreach into a citizen’s private affairs. In a truly free society overflowing with personal liberty, these things tend to work themselves out, no?

  3. Submitted by Rachel Kahler on 08/29/2011 - 04:37 pm.

    *eyeroll* The Fairgrounds (and the Fair), being a privately owned property, can do whatever they darn well please. Respect the private enterprise, Mr. Libertarian, and the private enterprise’s rules. Leaning against the building is bending the rules of the privately owned enterprise. That’s disrespectful, no matter who you’re wearing a wig for.

    Plus, why are you whining about what the police can or can’t do? As a Libertarian, wouldn’t it make more sense to simply hire your own protection. I’m sure it would be more cost efficient and effective(in your mind). To make a jab about the police being unable to catch your burglar while the Fair authorities are able to kick you off the grounds for breaking THEIR rules is dumb.

    As an aside, this piece, while interesting and having most of the pertinent information, was poorly written. It jumps all over the place–I was half way expecting to read “SQUIRREL!” in the middle of it. It felt like watching TV news, which I avoid because it’s written for people with no attention span and little interest in real news.

  4. Submitted by Todd Hintz on 08/29/2011 - 05:44 pm.

    I saw the guy at the booth on Saturday and just burst out laughing. The sillyness is so over the top that all you can do is just shake your head and walk away.

    My guess is this guy thinks rules are something for other people to follow, but not him.

  5. Submitted by Richard Schulze on 08/30/2011 - 06:42 am.

    Bachmann is an even more fringe candidate than Paul. Her positions are on most things more extreme. That doesn’t make Paul a mainstream candidate, but it does reveal how the media treats a star.

  6. Submitted by Bill Schletzer on 08/30/2011 - 08:55 am.

    Sounds like the cops are batting .500 and drummer boy is batting .000.

    Maybe a tornado will hit the fair this week proving beyond any doubt that God wants this guys drums to be heard.

  7. Submitted by Donald Dienst on 08/30/2011 - 10:38 am.

    What Business is he conducting? He is not being paid by anyone nor is he soliciting for his performance. I believe this then falls under freedom of speech.

    Maybe next year they should have a no public instrument policy but if someone wants to walk around and inform people of something they can.

  8. Submitted by Mike Schumann on 08/30/2011 - 11:29 am.

    Since when is the State Fair privately owned property? What happened to the 1st Amendment and the right to free speech?

  9. Submitted by Marcia Brekke on 09/03/2011 - 07:51 am.

    “Free speech”? That’s pretty loud “speech”! Don’t people have a right to protect their um, EAR drums, just as much if not more, as someone’s rights to bang their SNARE drums.

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