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Noisy partying after bull ride irks nearby residents

The dance and festivities following the annual July bull ride on the Jokela Auction Grounds is rankling Henrietta Township citizenry.

In a diplomatically worded letter to the Hubbard County commissioners, the Henrietta Township board listed benefits of the event - and concerns that have emerged in the last two years following the introduction of "strong liquor instead of 3.2" (percent alcohol) beer.

Hours liquor is served and the music and revelry, which can be heard by those residing within a large radius, were cited as concerns. Lack of security, underage drinking and noise disturbances as late as 3:15 a.m. irked residents last summer, the noise reportedly traveling down Long Lake.

A single deputy was reportedly on site at one point when the second deputy was booking arrestees.

"Residents complained that when they called the sheriff's office to complain about noise and other issues, they were told nothing could be done because it was located on private property," the township letter states.

An estimated 25,000 arrive for the annual bull ride event, with two deputies on duty during the dance, sheriff Gary Mills told commissioners, who said Wednesday he'd just learned of the township's concerns. "The agreement is they shut down after midnight."

Strong beer and wine coolers are served at the event, according to township representatives Sharon Koskela and Brenda Carpenter who presented the letter drafted by the board,

Mills arrived with a list of last year's case calls, which included two assaults, purse theft, five minors consuming, an intoxicated male who'd fallen and needed medical attention and a bull on the loose.

The Park Rapids Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce is once again seeking the liquor license for the event, Katie Magozzi presenting the request at a township meeting.

But, according to the letter from the township, paperwork was lacking. "We were told Mr. Mills had the application to complete background checks and that it would not be shared with us because of identity theft concerns," the letter states.

"(Magozzi) insisted we approve it because of time constraints, even without any information or resolution. Also, Ms. Magozzi was given our list of concerns in a correspondence last year and was directed to provide a written report addressing each concern after last year's event," the letter states. "It was forwarded to the Jokelas and we have received no response to date."

Lyle Robinson asked for direction on the matter.

"We are almost obligated unless they violate state liquor codes," Mills told him.

The Chamber, he said, pays for the two deputies, who are off-duty.

"We want to create an awareness of what the residents are saying," Koskela said.

Dick Devine recalled imposing a number of restrictions on a party who'd requested a permit for a similar event south of Dorset. "These are not the same restrictions," he said.

"But the same rules apply," board chair Cal Johannsen said.

"I think we need to tell them to clean it up or they won't get another one," Robinson said of issuing the on-sale liquor license.

Mills said the sheriff's department intends to implement changes this year. A deputy who's "on the road" will be taking in those arrested.

"This reminds me of Moondance Jam," Frank Homer said of problems arising after the concerts have ended.

Auditor-treasurer Pam Hereen reported no application for the license has been received.