2.5 hours later: No decision on festival

stillwaterThree groups made presentations to Stillwater City Council about what their ideas would be for a summer festival in 2014, while council opted to wait to ask more questions, get feedback and hear from a fourth group, The Locals, that had also submitted a festival proposal, before the council makes a final decision.

Groups that presented Tuesday night included Filo Productions, Genius of Fun Events and Mid-America Festivals Corp.

The reinstatement of a summer festival in 2014 would come on the heels of having no major summer festivals in the last two summers after Lumberjack Days was discontinued when event organizer David Eckberg faced charges of unpaid bills and the event faced increased community disapproval.

Proposed ideas were similar in some respects but also different in their overall nature.

Filo Productions

Filo Productions has produced fan festivals internationally and in the U.S. for the NBA, Major League Baseball and U.S. Tennis Association. They proposed “River Jam” and “Sawmill Days” as the potential names of their festival.

Filo Productions Vice President Andrew Westphal told council that the event would be family friendly and include the historical fabric of the town,  and also would have a music event that would be smaller in nature.

“We’d like to collaborate with everybody, collaboration is what we do and we want to make this the best experience we can for as many people as possible,” Westphal said.

Over the course of the three day event Westphal said their estimates could be anywhere from 6,000 to 7000 people on Friday, 8,000 to 10,000 people on Saturday and 5,000 to 6,000 people on Sunday due to shorter hours that would be put into place on that day. The numbers were based on an educated guess, the amount of money they’d spend on advertising and how much they believe the space could handle. He added that the group has experience with organizing a shuttle system to get people downtown to help alleviate traffic concerns.

There would be a kids area that had face painting, inflatables, and other things that kids could enjoy. Food vendors, parades, running races, an old-timers baseball game could take place, and they would partner with area non-profits as well to create other events.

“For musical acts we’d have regional or local acts with a following, there would be no Lynyrd Skynyrd,” Westphal said.

The total cost projection of the festival would be $405,482 and the company would push to get sponsorships to fulfill that amount. He added that getting the sponsorships would make the group more fiscally responsible and the event costs would never exceed the dollar amount they raised in sponsorships.

Genius of Fun Events

The second group that presented was Genius of Fun Events, owned by Woody McBride, who has produced numerous art and music festivals in the St. Croix River Valley including the music on the Overlook series in St. Croix Falls, Wanigan Days in Taylors Falls and St. Croix Falls, the St. Croix Falls Autumn Fest and Franconia Sculpture Park’s Art and Artist’s Celebration and Summer Music Festival. He’s proposed “The Spirit of Stillwater.”

“We all have acknowledged the depth and seriousness of the need to reanimate the event and everyone knows what happened and no one wants to see it happen again. I’ve built my work out of St. Croix Falls and Taylors Falls and I’ve turned their festivals into high profile tourist attractions and kept a hip small town vibe,” McBride said. “I’m not looking to score and leave town.”

He told council that he sees himself as more of a contractor and has spoken with various groups with event roots in the community including the Stillwater Log Run folks, the library, And a local who would like to set up a car show. He added he spoke with Cooks of Crocus Hill and said he may  be able to bring in Andrew Zimmern to have a chef off between the various chefs in the area if he’s granted the city council’s permission to move forward with the event. McBride added that he could do the whole event for $80,000. Revenue streams for the event would include beer, wine and food and the parade which he would charge entrants to take part in on a tiered system. The city would provide security.

The size of the crowd he’d expect for the three day event would be 8,000 to 10,000 over the course of a day and some musical guests that could appear would include the Roe Family Singers, Country band Hitchville, Stillwater’s Curt Jorgenson Band, a jazz trio, and Boss Grant’s Johnny Cash tribute band.

Mid-America Festivals Corp.

Mid-America Festivals Corp, the third group that presented, produces Renaissance Festivals in Shakopee, the California Bay Area, Kansas City and Michigan, and the Trail of Terror proposed “River City Days”.

“This will not be like the Renaissance Festival, it will be it’s own identifiable event completely unique and true to the Stillwater area. We want to make it the crown jewel of Stillwater,” President of Mid-America, Jim Peterson, said. “We’re a people business and we want to be sensitive to the local people and if we have enough interaction and take enough temperatures and have sensitivity we can make something that will turn into a tradition and be around for a long time.”

Events proposed within the event include family areas, free crafts, inflatables for kids, a concert series featuring local acts, a strongman competition or lumberjack event, wine and jazz festival, local beer festival, Tour De Stillwater with a bike, run and parade, chess tournaments theater productions, cupcake competitions, ice cream social and more.

“From the survey we did have access to fifty percent of the people don’t like the festival and we want to bring them back to it.”

For the main concert Peterson says he has access to many acts with his background in the rock and roll scene but would book what would be considered a secondary or tertiary performer at a headliner concert.

“What we want to do is find talent that could have 4,000 people in the audience at $20 a ticket, someone newer that we could put on stage and see their career take off from Stillwater,” Peterson said.

He’s expecting 20,000 to 40,000 people over the three day event and expects about $75,000 in sponsorships to come in.

“People in Minnesota are wonderful people and they don’t usually object to an event verbally but they object with their feet by not coming back next year. Our goal is to have everyone who comes enjoy themselves and leave saying I can’t wait to go back next year.” Peterson said.

Council will hear the fourth presentation from The Locals at their Oct. 29 meeting and will make a decision after that. Council will create a list of further questions for the groups and send them along by Friday and encouraged people to contact their council representative or city staff with feedback.

Contact Avery Cropp at avery.cropp@ecm-inc.com

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