Events center owner sued for defying executive order

Local News

A New Year’s Eve party canceled for violating an executive order to prevent the spread of COVID-19 may not have been the first time the owner of a Winnebago events center hosted such an event.

Days before the Nov. 3 general election, a social media posting advertised an “Election Day Victory Party” featuring food, beverages, bands and guest speakers.

Attendees also were asked to “b.y.o.b” and that wearing masks and social distancing guidelines must be followed. has learned at least two other dances with a live band were held at the Carlson Event Center, located in the former school building.

Police Chief Eric Olson did not respond to an e-mail for comment on whether the organizer of the dances and election party was ever contacted.

Newly-elected Mayor Scott Robertson says he wasn’t aware of any events held at the Carlson center that may have violated social indoor gathering guidelines.

“I probably will ask him (Olson) if he knew about the dances and how he handled it,” says Robertson. “I want to know if they are enforcing executive orders or they’re letting the state do it.”

Last week, Attorney General Keith Ellison filed a lawsuit against Carlson Event Center, alleging that venues hosting indoors events and entertainment must temporarily close through Jan. 10.

In its lawsuits against the event center, Ellison’s office has asked the court to:

  • Declare that defendants’ actions constitute violations of Executive Order 20-99, as extended and modified by Executive Order 20-103;
  • Stop anyone associated with these establishments from violating or threatening to violate the executive orders;
  • Award restitution, disgorgement, or damages to the State;
  • Impose civil penalties of up to $25,000 for each violation or threatened violation of the executive order;
  • Award the State its costs; and
  • Impose any other relief the court finds just.

A hearing is scheduled this Friday in Faribault County District Court before Judge Troy Timmerman.

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