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Domeier scraps bid for St. Paul Park Heritage Days

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A last-minute decision made by longtime Heritage Days organizer Jim Domeier has left the city of St. Paul Park without a festival lead, putting the future of this year’s event in even more uncertain territory.

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Shortly after Tuesday’s City Council meeting began, Domeier, who was close to reaching a deal with the city, announced that he was rescinding his offer to run the three-day event.

“We’re running out of time,” Domeier told the council. “We keep prolonging this and prolonging this. It’s to the point where it’s either now or never.”

Earlier this month, the City Council authorized a contract for Domeier to run the event in 2014 with stipulations attached regarding a beer garden and the addition of more family-friendly activities.

Despite Domeier expressing interest in continuing conversations about the upcoming event, he told the council the beer garden was a large part of his decision.

“It’s not worth it to do the beer garden or the time involved. Period,” Domeier told the council. “The beer garden is not going to be feasible. It’s handcuffed us and it’s handcuffed you guys.”

During a recent Heritage Days Committee meeting, a meeting City Council member Jennifer Cheesman attended, Domeier drafted a three-page list of positives and negatives. However, the list only contained a handful of positives, one of which was requiring of-age drinkers to wear wristbands.

“I’m just done,” Domeier said in a brief interview. “Other than that, I don’t have anything else to say.”

Cheesman said she was confused by the decision, adding she felt there was a lot of “energy and enthusiasm moving forward” after the committee meeting.

“I’m personally shocked,” she said. “At this point I’m not really sure what we’re going to do.”

Cheesman alluded to the city possibly taking a year off in order to regroup, but Mayor Keith Franke said he would rather hold the event in a scaled back version versus taking a year off.

“I think if we took a year off you lose a lot of the interest,” he argued. “It would take away from the community aspect, which is something we are trying to get back to."

Franke said he was interested in having a conversation about the city possibly taking the event back and having the bars pull special permits to have their own on-site beer gardens.

“I don’t think the roadblocks are as stern as they appear,” he said. “I think we just need to work around them.”

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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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