Christian festival causes ‘Mad Max’ chaos in small market town
Travelers who wreaked havoc on a market town in England’s smallest county have finally started to leave the site after four days of “Mad Max” chaos.
About 1,500 gypsies descended on Rutland Showground in Oakham for a mass Pentecostal Christian event last weekend.
Residents and local businesses filed hundreds of complaints with police over the next few days as travelers caused “utter carnage” around the picturesque town.
There have been reports of drag racing, shoplifting and anti-social behavior that has forced some stores to close and schools warning children not to walk alone.
Leicestershire Police have confirmed two arrests have been made in connection with the Festival of Light and Life, which ended on Thursday.
This morning (Friday) a large number of caravans were still stalled on the exhibition grounds as the cars finally started to leave the site.
Police officers were preventing vehicles from entering as motorists gradually began to exit.
Local resident Carl Ford, 55, said: “The vast majority of them behaved well, but a small number of them caused utter chaos.
“We will be happy to see the return of this event, which has not been well organized from the start.
“Last weekend was the worst, but the police started cracking down on things over the next few days.
“I saw someone say it was like Mad Max something and it wasn’t overkill for this opening weekend.
“Most people were locked in their homes again until all of this passed.
“They don’t seem to be showing any urgent signs of leaving yet, although some of them are gone today. I just hope they take their mess with them.”
Another resident, who did not wish to be named, said earlier in the week: “I work on the streets and I live quite close to the fairgrounds.
“I heard they peed in people’s gardens and then ran down the main street banging on the windows.
“It’s chaos and then there’s the extra traffic and all their trash that they just leave around.
“They just seem to throw away their trash and riot in the city.
“It’s a quiet place and we only have a small main street, but they still found ways to wreak havoc.”
The Rutland Agricultural Society hosted the event on 45 acres of fields for 1,500 adults and children in their own motorhomes and caravans.
Leicestershire Police said they received more than 100 calls regarding the event, mostly about anti-social behavior and Covid violations.
Superintendent Jonny Starbuck said: “Initially we received over 100 calls to the police regarding this event, most of those calls to the police were to inform us that this was happening and to ask if we were aware of the event.
“There was a lot of anti-social behavior reported and we made two arrests.
“Since the establishment of the police operation, we have seen these calls to the police drop to twenty.
“We are aware of non-payment for food and shoplifting from local businesses and we are working with them to ensure the right action is taken.
We call for lasting changes to ensure that waste and its makers are treated much more seriously.
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“Mainly, we’ve had reports of antisocial behavior and a few reports relating to covid compliance.
“We understand that antisocial behavior can have a significant impact on the local community and I want to thank them for working with us on this issue and I encourage them to continue reporting incidents to us.
“Again, we would like to stress that this is a legal event and that the majority of people who visit are there to benefit from their faith.
“There are only a few who are determined to engage in this negative behavior. We will deal with those who commit crimes quickly and vigorously. “