St. Paul Park Heritage Days roaring back after a year of hardships
St. Paul Park’s annual three-day Heritage Days festival kicks off tonight, putting behind city officials a year’s worth of struggle revolving around festival funding, leadership, public safety and location.
An uptick in the number of police calls to the street dance last year gave the City Council cause for concern, prompting officials to seek out more family-friendly options. And after longtime organizer Jim Domeier suddenly stepped down, the city decided to form the Heritage Days Planning Committee alongside the St. Paul Park/Newport Lions Club, rather than scrap the event.
And soon the committee’s hard work will be put to the test as the Heritage Days festival opens at 4 p.m. The 100 block of Broadway Avenue will provide festival-goers a street carnival complete with rides, concessions, games and kid-friendly activities. Later in the evening, Twin Cities-based classic rockers Furious George takes the stage at Park Place Sports Bar.
Bright and early Saturday, the American Legion will host a breakfast buffet, beginning at 8 a.m. When you’re finished eating, head over to the mud volleyball courts by the railroad tracks at the corner of Broadway Avenue and Fifth Street. Play begins promptly at 8 a.m. with 30 teams vying for the championship title.
Throughout the morning, Heritage Days patrons can take in the business expo, street carnival and the much larger flea market and arts and crafts exhibits. At 11 a.m., snag a spot along the parade route to watch area floats, emergency vehicles and city officials roll through the city. The parade begins at Heritage Park, corner of Portland and 13th avenues, and makes its way down Summit Avenue before turning west on Broadway and ending at Second Street.
The grand marshal, or marshals, this year is the St. Paul Park/Newport Lions Club. The over 80-member club stepped up to help plan this year’s event and is a major sponsor, donating $5,000 to the event. Since 1991, the club has given roughly $2.8 million back to the community.
Following the parade, stick around Broadway Avenue to catch the car show, fire truck display, and live music. The horseshoe and bean bag tournaments also begin Saturday.
On the main stage Saturday evening, Bad Girlfriends will entertain the crowds. Touted as Minnesota’s premier girls’ night out party band, Bad Girlfriends, fronted by two female vocalists, steps “out of the normal cover band realm” and delivers powerful performances, their website said. The group takes the main stage at 4 p.m., with the street dance coming to a close at 8 p.m.
Sunday’s all-day events include the popular garden tractor pull, beginning at 11 a.m. in the 200 block of Broadway Avenue. The event, which always draws a crowd, was in limbo during Heritage Days Planning Committee discussions but because the event is so popular, the committee made it work. The mud volleyball tournament concludes around 4 p.m. and a new event, St. Paul Park Sings competition, takes place on the main stage from 3-5 p.m.
In its inaugural showing, City Council member and Heritage Days Planning Committee member Sandi Dingle said the competition is for singers between the ages of 15 and 25.
“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.
For a complete schedule of Heritage Days events, visit the St. Paul Park city website, www.stpaulpark.govoffice.com/.