Carnival operator hangs New London's Water Days out to dry

As a co-chair for New London’s 150th birthday party at its summer Water Days festival, Racquel Skindelien and her fellow organizers had to scramble at the last minute to fill a giant hole when the carnival operator they hired never showed up last weekend.

“He was supposed to come to set up. He never showed up,” Skindelien said. “I think we were all shocked, running on adrenaline, didn’t know what to do.”

The group hired Minnesota’s Magic Midway, owned by Ed and Linda Reinke, back in January. According to their contract, New London organizers paid $5,000 up front for 10 rides, 3 food trucks and carnival games.

But 6 weeks before Water Days, they allege communication with the Reinkes was cut off -- no phone calls, no emails and no text messages. They finally got through to the Anoka-based company just hours before the 2015 celebration was set to begin, and were told the Reinkes would not be coming.

Ed Reinke answered a call from Fox 9 on Wednesday afternoon. He claims health issues kept him away. But an attorney working on behalf of the New London organizers see it differently, calling Reinke’s actions criminal.

“I really think it is criminal,” said attorney John Mack. “Look at the Minnesota statute. There is theft by swindle. How isn’t this swindle?”
So why didn’t Ed Reinke cancel earlier, and why he hasn’t returned the community’s $5,000?

“Tell them to take me to court,” Reinke said. “You take me to court. Don’t bother me no more. My doctor told me not to get stressed out.”

Mack is also a member of the New London city council, and he isn’t messing around. The attorney sent a letter to Attorney General Lori Swanson, and he’s calling for local charges.

Reinke said he is in the process of selling his carnival equipment, and when he does, he will pay back the $5,000.

As for New London’s sesquicentennial, a couple of local vendors stepped up at the last minute to ensure a fabulous celebration.

*Some photographs used in the video report are courtesy the Lakes Area Review

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