Berkley Days shuts down after fights, will not resume

By: Mike Koury | Woodward Talk | Published May 13, 2023

 Berkley Days, seen here in 2022, was shut down early after several fights took place May 13, 2023. The festival will not resume on Sunday, May 14.

Berkley Days, seen here in 2022, was shut down early after several fights took place May 13, 2023. The festival will not resume on Sunday, May 14.

File photo by Patricia O'Blenes


BERKLEY — After several fights broke out at the Berkley Days festival May 13, the decision was made to cancel the event for the rest of the weekend.

According to the Berkley Public Safety Department, police were notified about one fight at the festival at 5:30 p.m. May 13. But at approximately 7:30 p.m., when larger crowds started to enter the festival, another two fights broke out among attendees at around the same time.

Detective Lt. Andrew Hadfield said that after about three fights happened, the carnival at 2400 Robina Ave. was shut down due to safety concerns. The fights continued after the cancellation, as Hadfield estimated another 10 fights occurred as people were dispersing from the festival grounds.

“(It was in) different areas as they were waiting for rides or heading home, and they started continuing fighting kind of throughout the neighborhood,” he said.

Hadfield said it’s unknown how or why the fights broke out, as many of them were broken up by the time police arrived at each scene.

Police stated that most of the participants in the fights were between 15 and 17 years old, and all were under the age of 20.

Because of the fights and to prevent retaliatory incidents, Berkley Days was canceled for its final day on Sunday, May 14.

“Just for the safety of everybody, they don’t want to have any retaliatory things or anything going on,” he said late on May 13. “The neighborhood was kind of shook by the incident. And that’s not the point. Berkley Days has been going on for (a long time), I think, and we’ve never had it to this level. And so at this point, (organizers are) going to cancel the event and reconvene on what the future steps are for it.”

During the May 15 City Council meeting, the council heard from several residents who expressed their concerns with the events of the Berkley Days weekend.

Jessica Alger said her street, Robina Avenue, was nearly impassable, even though no one should have been parked on the road. As she returned home from dinner, she could hardly get down her own street as the event was being evacuated.

“By the time I arrived at my house, I was worried for my kids’ safety,” she said. “They were nervous and asking why people were running away from the carnival. Once my husband and I got our kids into the house safely, we took turns monitoring our yard because we had people standing all over our front yard. We witnessed people running into our neighborhood backyards and hiding behind various parked cars.”

Alger said it took more than an hour for the neighborhood to be cleared, during which time she kept her children in the basement to protect them from seeing or hearing things that would scare them or possibly harm them if things went wrong.

As a parks and recreation official in another community, Alger said she understands what goes into planning an event like Berkley Days and empathizes when things don’t go as planned, but she felt there was a lack of foresight by city leadership and the Berkley Days committee with the evacuation, and she hopes the city reconsiders traffic laws surrounding the high school and Community Park during events, including football games, Berkley Days and others.

The city’s emergency manager, Jack Blanchard, told the council that the plans for evacuation worked as soon as the decision was made to shut down Berkley Days. He said there were 43 officers on the ground within 30 minutes, people were moved out slowly but safely, members of the American Legion were sheltered in the beer tent, and the plan was executed to the best of their ability.

“No one was hurt. No guns were there. We confiscated some squirt guns that looked like guns, but if you know what a gun looks like, you’d know that it wasn’t. The plan was executed. The teens were moved out of the area, and the cars slowly moved them farther out until they could disperse them. … The plan worked. We will do more in the future to make sure that we can handle it even better.”