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Bridgeville rodeo organizers face charges, fines for violating coronavirus orders

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The organizers of last weekend’s outdoor rodeo event in Bridgeville now face charges and fines. The large event, reportedly attended by hundreds if not thousands, violated coronavirus State of Emergency gathering limits.

Photos and video showed attendees close together, many without face coverings. State officials fear it could have been a “superspreader event.”

The state Division of Alcohol and Tobacco Enforcement (DATE) charged the director of the nonprofit Mexican Folkloric Dance Society of New York for the Sept. 6 rodeo, as well as two previous events along Kirkwood Highway state officials say also violated the emergency order.

“While most liquor licensees take social distancing directives seriously during these challenging times, this case serves as a reminder that some licensees place others at a health risk by not complying with those standards,” said DATE Director John Yeomans in a statement Friday. “Everyone has an obligation to engage in social distancing practices to keep themselves and others safe, especially our vulnerable populations."

The society and co-organizer Rancho El 24 also face fines from the Division of Public Health (DPH) for the Sept. 6 event: $10,000 for lack of face coverings, $10,000 for lack of social distancing and $1,000 for failure to secure proper approval. The penalties can be reduced, officials say, if the event organizers provide DPH with contact information for performers, attendees, staff and promoters. 


“We want to ensure accountability for those acting in an irresponsible manner,” said DPH Director Dr. Karyl Rattay in a statement Friday. “Delawareans and Delaware businesses have made tremendous sacrifices over the months and an event like this counters all of the efforts that have taken place.”

State officials are urging those who attended the rodeo to get tested for the virus. A testing event was held in Bridgeville Friday.

At a press briefing earlier in the week both Gov. John Carney and state Rattay condemned the rodeo event as illegal. Rattay also called the event “horrible” and “appalling.”

Under Carney’s executive order outdoor gatherings are limited to 250 people. 


Sophia Schmidt is a Delaware native. She comes to Delaware Public Media from NPR’s Weekend Edition in Washington, DC, where she produced arts, politics, science and culture interviews. She previously wrote about education and environment for The Berkshire Eagle in Pittsfield, MA. She graduated from Williams College, where she studied environmental policy and biology, and covered environmental events and local renewable energy for the college paper.
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