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Continued: Tevlin: Minnesota State Fair does only fair for disabled guests

  • Article by: JON TEVLIN , Star Tribune
  • Last update: September 3, 2014 - 11:49 PM

Julian Loscalzo said he had a partial solution to help seniors and people with mobility issues at the fair, but got turned down: Pedicabs, which he owns.

Loscalzo tried to get an agreement with the fair to station some of the Pedicabs near the exits, so that people could get rides to their cars in distant parking lots, or to the bus stations.

“I know my idea is a moneymaking enterprise and I’m going to make some money, but I still think it’s a service we can offer,” Loscalzo said. “About 50 percent of our riders are people with some type of mobility issues, but the fair won’t allow us near the gates.”

Usually when I call an organization with a gripe of mine or our readers, it gets defensive, but when I called Brienna Schuette in the fair’s communications office, she was apologetic.

“Just to be very honest with you, this is the first year with the hub and there are a lot of tweaks we have to make before 2015,” said Schuette. “We tried to think of everything.”

Schuette said we’d probably have had better luck driving to the disability-only lot, where they do have shuttles to the door. Fine, but that conflicts with the fair’s goal to get more people to use public transportation.

Schuette seemed genuinely sad that some people were struggling at the new transit hub, and said they would work on the issue for next year.

“We rely on feedback from the public,” Schuette said. “It sounds like an easy fix to put benches [in the hub]. I’m glad you brought it to our attention.”

Benches would be great. A service such as Pedicabs would also work, and perhaps a ticket line for people with disabilities. The number of fairgoers with mobility problems will only rise.

Fair officials might also consider golf carts driven by volunteers to help people reach the wheelchairs and electric scooters. If they do, I’ll sign up for a couple of shifts.

While I’m offering unsolicited advice: Never, ever change the recipe for Pronto Pups. • 612-673-1702

Follow Jon on Twitter: @jontevlin

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