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City of St. Paul Park takes back Heritage Days

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City of St. Paul Park takes back Heritage Days
Cottage Grove Minnesota 7584 80th Street South 55016

The annual Heritage Days celebration is back in the hands of St. Paul Park city officials, and despite the recent and abrupt change in plans, it will take place this summer.

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With the future of the multi-day community event uncertain after longtime organizer Jim Domeier surprised the City Council last month by rescinding his offer to run the festival, the city was left with two options: cancel it and regroup next year, or take over running the event.

The council unanimously chose the latter during a Monday workshop, and appointed Mayor Keith Franke and council member Sandi Dingle as co-chairs for 2014.

“I think the city is happy to take back the festival,” Franke said in an interview.

Discussion about this year’s event focused on four main areas -- parade, carnival, mud volleyball and horseshoe tournaments, and street dance.

Dingle said she recently spoke with the New-Park Lions Club, who agreed to oversee the mud volleyball and horseshoe tournaments. And with current Heritage Days, Inc., volunteers willing to see the event through in 2014, Franke said there is a good chance he could still strike a deal with the new carnival operator with whom Domeier was negotiating.

Franke also said he anticipates getting a contact list of groups that participated in past parades.

Joe Duffy, manager of the American Legion Post 98 in St. Paul Park, said his organization was interested in being part of the volunteer planning committees.

“The whole appearance of the festival will be the same, the main ingredients will not change,” council member Tim Jones said.

With three of the four main items seemingly under control, the city has yet to address the street dance and on-street drinking.

Increased police calls during and after the street dance last year led the city to re-evaluate the on-street drinking policy and to instead consider a beer garden.

“We aren’t going to figure out the whole on-street drinking aspect tonight,” council member Jeff Swenson said Monday, adding that a separate workshop might be needed.

Businesses along Broadway Avenue will still have the option to obtain special event permits and have their own beer gardens.

“That option is still on the table,” Franke said. “Beyond that, it will all depend on the scope of what a beer garden will be.”

It’s also not yet clear if Heritage Days will be three full days as it has been in past years.

“I think we could pull off something on the smaller scale for sure,” Franke said. “It all comes down to what is our goal for Heritage Days this year.”

Funding the festival is another issue on the table that needs more discussion. There is no money left from last year and no donations have come in for this year, Franke said.

And without any money allocated in the 2014 budget for Heritage Days, City Administrator Kevin Walsh said an amendment to the budget is likely.

“We will be working with a minimum of $5,000,” Franke said, an amount the city has typically put into the event. “It will also depend on what we get for donations.”

Moving forward as a city-run event for the first time since 2010, the city is hoping more people will step forward to help plan the festival.

The city is looking for a number of volunteers to fill various roles on several event-planning committees. Those interested in volunteering should contact City Hall at 651-459-9785.

The first meeting of the city-run Heritage Days festival committee will be at 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 18, at the St. Paul Park City Hall.

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Emily Buss
Emily Buss joined the South Washington County Bulletin in February 2013. She covers local government in Cottage Grove, St. Paul Park and Newport, along with other general assignment reporting. She holds a bachelor's degree in journalism and mass communications from Minnesota State University, Mankato.
(651) 459-4629
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