Duk Duk Daze has been a staple in New Hope's summers for a half-century. It offers carnival rides, softball, an arts and crafts fair, and Giant Jenga. That’s what made it so disheartening to Duk Duk diehards when last year’s event was peppered with brawls between teenagers.
This year, the Duk Duk homepage promised changes. There would be two secure points of entry, admission fees at the gates, and security throughout. “As always,” it said, no running or fighting would be allowed, and “those belligerent to the rules” would be “promptly asked to leave by security.”
There were some complaints about the changes, of course. A few patrons tweeted out about “no cops at duk duk daze,” and “we can’t have duk duk daze or any other carnival for free no more since mfs want to fight n shit.” But there were hopes it would at least keep things safe this year.
Cut to Saturday, when all hell broke loose.
A series of fights broke out that afternoon, reportedly between teenagers. Attendees posted on the Duk Duk Daze Facebook page that there was “absolute chaos, fights everywhere,” “loud, pushy teens and adults,” and, according to one report, “teenagers wearing what looked like bulletproof vests.”
It's probably best to take the bulletproof vest thing with a grain of salt. But KARE 11 reported that there were “30 badged officers and community services officers deployed, and it wasn’t enough to keep things under control.”
"I don't know why they were fighting," New Hope Police Captain Scott Slawson says. "A lot of times, we don't get real answers about these things."
Slawson says he received no reports of anyone getting hurt, but the end, the annual fireworks display was moved up an hour and festivalgoers were turned away “immediately after 9:30 p.m.” so the event could close early. Facebook commenters said they were “escorted out” and that some “little punks” had “ruin[ed] the event for everyone.”
Others couldn’t help but notice this was the second year in a row that Duk Duk Daze had been crashed by said “punks.” Some even went as far as to say that security and law enforcement should be “embarrassed.” The police department ended up citing 10 people -- mostly teens -- with disorderly conduct and sending them home.
Duk Duk Days returned on Sunday with bingo, a petting zoo, and Frankie’s Pizza Eating Contest. But it didn’t stop people from speculating about what next year would look like – “curfews,” “wristbands,” and even rebranding as a “family festival” without access to unaccompanied minors.
All the while, patrons were begging their fellow New Hope residents not to give up on Duk Duk Daze just yet.
“All of us were sad and disappointed, but vowing to never attend again and not allowing this year to be financially successful could well be the nail in the coffin for this event,” one Facebook user commented. “I choose to not allow these teens to ruin this event for my community.”