Gone, but not forgotten

Preliminary event survey results show support for LJD

stillwaterSometimes, you don’t know how much you miss something until it’s gone.
Preliminary results of an event survey conducted for the city of Stillwater show a majority of about 1,100 city residents consider Lumberjack Days important for the city and would miss it if the festival were permanently canceled.

Those results among 108 pages of material recently presented to city officials by Readex Research, which conducted the poll in the wake of the council’s decision almost one year ago to cancel the 2012 Lumberjack Days celebration in the wake of legal troubles facing former LJD organizer David Eckberg.

Community Development Director Bill Turnblad told the council Tuesday that Readex officials will present survey findings at the Feb. 19 council meeting.
The 108 pages of preliminary data presented to council members resulted from 21 survey questions that 1,105 residents responded to.

The survey shows that 72 percent of respondents agreed that Lumberjack Days was “an important part of the Stillwater experience,” 64 percent said the festival was good for local businesses, and 58 percent would miss the festival if it was eliminated.
However, 54 percent of respondents said LJD was “more for the enjoyment of people outside the city than for local residents;” 48 percent said the festival was “too big,” and another 42 percent said it cost the city too much.

Besides asking about the festival in general, the Readex survey also sought opinions about various LJD events.

Mayor Ken Harycki said the Readex data should give city officials a better idea of how residents feel about Lumberjack Days.

“What’s the bottom line support for Lumberjack Days,” he said, adding that a previous survey showed 82 percent of city residents supported the festival.
The council canceled Lumberjack Days last March following complaints to local law enforcement agencies that Eckberg’s company, St. Croix Events, issued bad checks to vendors at past festivals. St. Croix Events organized LJD, the Stillwater Marathon and other local events.

A lengthy investigation resulted in the Washington County Attorney’s Office charging Eckberg with five counts of theft by check and five counts of issuing dishonored checks. Both charges are felony offenses. Eckberg and his wife have since filed for bankruptcy.