Horse fair to cause traffic delays on Beltline Friday, officials say

Virus prompts 10 percent of horse owners to drop out of event
Horse fair to cause traffic delays on Beltline Friday, officials say

Motorists might experience traffic delays on the Beltline on Friday because of increased traffic going to the Midwest Horse Fair, officials said.

The annual fair starts Friday morning at the Alliant Energy Center with hundreds of spectators and exhibitors arriving during the morning commute, according to a release. Authorities expect east and westbound lanes of the Beltline to be congested Friday morning.

Horse fair participants can use the Olin Avenue, Rusk Avenue or Rimrock Road gates to enter the Alliant Energy Center, officials said. For participants to get on to Alliant Energy grounds efficiently, one lane of outbound John Nolen Drive will be closed, as well as one south lane of Rimrock Road.

Law enforcement will be directing traffic at the main gate, Rimrock Road and Rusk Avenue intersection, and the John Nolen Drive and Rimrock Road intersection, according to the release. Signs will be up along the Beltline to direct motorists.

Officials ask motorists to avoid Highway 12/18 near the Park Street, Rimrock Road and John Nolen Drive exits on Friday.

Officials also said a virus is hitting the horse fair this year.

The virus has been confirmed in two horses in Wisconsin from Polk and St. Croix counties, along with several horses in Minnesota.

Horse owners and event organizers compare it to flu season for humans, and said the virus isn’t something to be concerned about.

“We ask horse owners to talk to a vet before they come. Make sure that you’re comfortable coming, and once you get on site here, we’ll be asking lots of questions,” Midwest Horse Fair General Manager Rhonda Reese said. “We have our vets here all weekend long. They’ll be monitoring and walking through the barns just to make sure everything is OK.”

Organizers said about 10 percent of horse owners dropped out of the fair because of the virus. Extra precautions are being taken, like providing vet exams, disinfecting barns and having horse owners fill out questionnaires before they come, to make sure the virus won’t spread.