Vandalism escalates to arson at Wentzville Renaissance village -

Vandalism escalates to arson at Wentzville Renaissance village

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By Carlos Otero By Carlos Otero

( -- Vandals are escalating their path of destruction in St. Charles County.

Criminals are burning down buildings that were part of a “village” owned by a non-profit that puts on a Renaissance fair each year.

The group has dealt with vandals for years but it’s always been something minor like spray paint or someone breaking into a building.

This is the first time they’re dealing with arson.

On the western edge of Wentzville, tucked away in the woods of rotary park, nearly 70 structures spread out over 17 acres are made to resemble a 15th century French fairgrounds.

Shortly after midnight Saturday, someone burned down two of the buildings.

“I’m a merchant out here myself and that’s how I started,” said Bill Martin, head of Renaissance St. Louis. “So when you put the money into it and see it burn for- whether it was kicks or another motive- it’s kind of disheartening.”

Martin says the fairgrounds attract about 25,000 visitors each year over four weekends in May and June.

A cast of about 200 volunteers work the grounds dressed in period costumes.

But throughout the year, the area is a magnet for young people hanging out and partying.

Vandalism is such a problem that security cameras were installed. They recorded the fire.

“The first fire started dying down so they came back, set fire the second time which really sent it up in flames,” Martin said. “Then because of the wind direction took out the other two buildings that were sitting here behind us.”

While police do patrol around the fairgrounds, the area is leased from the city and is part of the park system, which means it can’t be completely secured.

Wentzville police have the security camera video and say an arson investigation is underway.

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