Cops block Renaissance Faire entry amid parking jam
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Tuxedo police, alarmed by a 2-mile-long line of pedestrians and cars parked along fast-moving Route 17A, barred entry to the New York Renaissance Faire at Sterling Forest for about 90 minutes Sunday afternoon.
Tuxedo Police Chief Patrick Welsh said an estimated 15,000 people inside the faire were allowed to remain but that safety concerns forced officials to block entry to further visitors at 1:30 p.m.
"There's no issue inside," he said. "Everything is free-flowing. Traffic on state roads was overwhelming."
Tuxedo Town Supervisor Peter Dolan said normal parking capacity for the faire is 12,000 in three massive fields and that 14,000 cars create a tight squeeze. About once a year, he said, parking overflows onto adjoining roads, forcing police to divert traffic.
Adding to the congestion, he said, was an apple festival in the nearby Town of Warwick.
Police also turned traffic away from the festival late Saturday afternoon when roads backed up, Welsh said, but Sunday's traffic jam was eye-opening.
"You have no idea unless you saw it," he said. "People were parked on the side of Route 17A literally two miles away, and people were walking. It's a 55-mile-per-hour state highway."
Welsh said that police had set up turnarounds on Route 17A and County Road 84 advising visitors that the faire was closed to new patrons.
By 3 p.m., officials began allowing new visitors to enter the faire, Welsh said.
On its website, the faire is described as "a rollicking romp through Elizabethan England complete with 16th century games, rides, arts, crafts, foot, music and dance."
Renaissance Faire officials did not immediately return calls and emails for comment.