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Southwest Florida fair worker fired after calling patron 'n-word'

Posted at 12:04 PM, Mar 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-10 12:44:13-04

Though they came for the rides and food, several families left the Southwest Florida fair with a bad taste in their mouth Sunday afternoon.

Just as a group was getting ready to take off on a children's ride, the ride operator and another man got into a fight after the operator called that man the "n-word."

Trevor Reiland was on that ride and witnessed the whole thing.

"The guy wouldn't let that gentleman's kids on the ride, I'm not sure why," said Reiland, "I could hear him call his wife a b****."

Once the fight broke up, everyone was removed from the ride.

Reiland says the fight happened in front a bunch of kids, including his own.

"I mean that guy should definitely be fired, there is no excuse for that especially being around kids," said Reiland.

Reithoffer Shows, Inc. is the company that supplies fair workers to Lee county.

Leadership with that company say that worker has been fired.

They also released the following statement:

Our office represents Reithoffer Shows, Inc. I am writing to you, on behalf of Reithoffer Shows, the entire Reithoffer family and their management team, and in response to your request for a statement concerning the incident for which you provided the video link.

First and foremost, Reithoffer Shows is a 124-year-old family owned and operated company, which employs people of every creed, color, sexual orientation, and religion. The Reithoffer Family has always chosen to run their company with the same core values that they instill in their own children which includes treating people how you want to be treated, understanding that no one is better than anyone else, and that all people are redeemable and deserve a second chance and when all else fails just to be kind. Reithoffer Shows does not and will never condone any discriminatory conduct or actions by an employee, representative or subcontractor. As soon as this ride operator’s conduct was brought to their attention, he was terminated and is no longer with the Show. Regardless of the provocation, there is no excuse or tolerance for discriminatory or offensive actions directed to a patron, guest or anybody else for that matter. It does not make any difference whose fault it was, the conduct of our representative was inexcusable and our entire family and management team extends our apologies.

In response to your question, there has not been any prior known incidents of this type that have occurred on a Reithoffer Shows Midway, much less with this operator, and they will do their very best to ensure that something like this never happens again.

Reithoffer Shows, Inc.

The Southwest Florida Fair management team echoed that thought in a separate statement to Fox 4, saying in part:

Hi Rochelle – The incident that occurred yesterday involved an employee (Ride Operator) of Reithoffer Shows, Inc. The Southwest Florida and Lee County Fair Association contracts with Reithoffer Shows, Inc. for the rides, games, and part of the concessions. The Owner of Reithoffer Shows is Richard Reithoffer, whom I am copying in on this email. I understand that action was taken, but I would not have any access to such information, as he was not an employee of the Fair Association. As soon as we were made aware of the incident, we immediately made Reithoffer Shows aware for them to address and take action.

The Board of Directors of the Southwest Florida and Lee County Fair Association, Inc., does not in any way condone the type of behavior displayed in the video.

The Fair Association strives to provide the community with a family friendly, safe, fun, and affordable experience that can be enjoyed by all. The Fair is not just about the rides. The Fair is an opportunity to share the importance of Agriculture and Education. In our ever changing world, it’s good to go back to the basics of an earlier time and share those times with the youth of today. Agriculture and Education have come a long way, and technology plays a major role today. When all is said and done, it’s still about providing food for the people and preparing them for the future. Our goal is to have a positive impact on the learning experience of our exhibitors as well as our guests and to encourage their continued involvement in the Fair.

Fran Crone, SWFL Fair Manager

But despite the swift actions of management, Reiland says he may not be as quick to come back to next year's fair.

"I'll probably think twice, maybe I'll wait a couple days and see if anybody's posted about anything, maybe I'll check it out then," said Reiland.