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.