St. Paul Park Heritage Days to include new events
Planning for the annual three-day Heritage Days festival in St. Paul Park is in the final stages, despite a year full of hardships relating to funding, leadership and location.
Earlier this week, the city handed over a temporary liquor license to the St. Paul Park/Newport Lions Club to serve alcohol at the event this August, one step closer to solidifying plans, City Council member Sandi Dingle said.
The future of Heritage Days was in limbo shortly after the 2013 weekend concluded. An increase in both cost and police calls caused the city to re-evaluate the event as a whole.
Longtime organizer Jim Domeier initially signed on to the run the event but in February rescinded his offer, citing not enough time to plan. And with talk of moving the event off Broadway Avenue and an unresolved dispute about on- and off-street drinking, city officials discussed scrapping the event for a year.
However, in April the St. Paul Park/Newport Lions Club took ownership of the event. The newly formed Heritage Days Planning Committee began making calls to vendors, businesses and area musicians in an attempt to salvage the festival.
“We’ve done an incredible amount of work these last few months,” said Dingle, who is a co-chair of the committee alongside Mayor Keith Franke. “I’m so grateful.”
To date, the committee, comprised of more than a dozen local residents, is finalizing the three-day event, which is slated begin at 4 p.m. Friday, Aug. 15, with the carnival on Broadway Avenue and punk rockers Furious George performing at Park Place Sports Bar.
Saturday’s events include the Grand Parade, mud volleyball, horseshoe and bean bag tournaments, arts and crafts fair and flea market, business expo, and the car show and fire truck display. Sunday marks the return of the tractor pull and a new event, a voice competition called St. Paul Park Sings.
Dingle said sign-ups for the singing competition have been slow, but she said she’s hopeful more people will register closer to Heritage Days.
“They do this event down in Hastings every year and it’s always a good turnout, plus there are really good prizes for the winners,” she said.
The competition accepts singers between ages 15 and 25.
A major change in the festival will occur this year, as outdoor events will end much earlier. In an effort to curb police calls to Broadway Avenue and surrounding areas, festival-goers will see entertainment moved indoors on Friday and outdoor Main Stage entertainment ending at 8 p.m. on Saturday. The time change, Police Chief Mike Monahan said earlier this year, aims to get people off the street by 9 p.m. and will help law enforcement better control drinkers.
That is much earlier than in past years. In 2013 event-goers drank on Broadway Avenue until 11 p.m.
Franke said he is confident that police will not have a hard time enforcing the time change.
The newest attraction related to the 2014 Heritage Days festival will take place before the actual event occurs.
The inaugural St. Paul Park Pub Crawl will take place from 2-5 p.m. Saturday, July 26, and take participants on a trip down Broadway Avenue from the American Legion to Park Place Sports Bar.
The pub crawl, Dingle said, is the idea of Park Place Sports Bar owner Tim Decker.
“This is a great opportunity to get people thinking about Heritage Days, sell some T-shirts and raise some money for the event,” Dingle said.
Along the way pub crawlers will be able to bid on silent auction items at each stop — American Legion, Broadway Bar & Grill, Franke’s, and Park Place.
“All of the money raised will go right into the Heritage Days fund,” Dingle said.
If the fundraiser is successful, she added that the city could make the pub crawl a permanent pre-Heritage Days event.
With the three-day festival just over two months away, August 15-17, Franke said more volunteers are still needed.
“The more the merrier,” he said. “We’ll find something for volunteers to do.”
For more information or to view the current schedule of events, visit the city of St. Paul Park’s website, www.stpaulpark.govoffice.com/, and click the Heritage Days Festival tab.