‘The Locals’ get say on festival

stillwaterThe fourth and final summer festival group, The Locals, gave its presentation to a packed crowd at Stillwater City Hall Tuesday, Oct. 29.

The group was given the opportunity to present its proposal after council members asked to hear from them at the council’s meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 15, after highlighting the other festival proposals, which include Filo Productions, Mid-America Festivals and Genius of Fun Events.

The Locals is officially established as a nonprofit organization and has created a collaboration between the group and businesses in the area over the past eight months.
The board of directors for this group includes Cassie McLemore, Erin McQuay, Brad Glynn of Lift Bridge Brewery, Cory Buettner of Leo’s, and Shawn Smalley of Smalley’s Caribbean Barbeque. The individuals in the group have various experiences with organizing local events including Summer Tuesdays, Harvest Fest, Paint the Water and more.

Though they haven’t taken on regional-scale events before, they’ve pulled together a team of accountants from Abdo Eick & Meyers, insurance managers and a financial advisor to assist and guide them in their undertaking to guarantee transparency.

The group proposed Log Jam as its event name and is hoping its aim to create a successful yet respectful event will win over the Stillwater City Council.

“We’re hoping to create an engaging and educational event that features the cultural heritage and local talent of our great river town,” McLemore said.

Highlights would include a soap box derby, lumberjack demonstrations, a Miss Stillwater Pageant, a water ski show and dragon boat races. Other ideas for activities include a historical boat tour with a partnership secured with Let’s Go Fishing Stillwater, tethered hot air balloon rides and historical-themed rooms in various businesses around the area that people could check out. One example given of a historical room was a Younger Brothers exhibit at Smalley’s. The Younger Brothers are Stillwater’s most notorious prisoners. Events would occur throughout the city, but most would be in Lowell Park.

The weekend would include some old favorites, such as the historical baseball tournament. A Sunday parade and fireworks display would cap off the festivities.
The festival is tentatively slated to run four days with events geared towards locals on Thursday, but that could change if needed. The group hopes to draw 20,000 people.
Musical acts would include a high school “battle of the bands,” as well as headliners such as Martin Zeller, The Suburbs and the Replacements. Children’s music would be presented in Teddy Bear Park, while Jazz would play in Pioneer Park.

To fund the event, the group would take advantage of the $20,000 the city allowed for funding in the proposal and would rely on grants and sponsorships from local businesses. Several businesses have already pledged support, including Lakeview Health, Associated Eye Care, Andersen Windows, Vistatek, Stillwater Motors, Lift Bridge Brewery and Smalley’s Caribbean Barbecue. Planners would also plan to engage with nonprofit groups in the community. If necessary, festival organizers would be open to scaling back the festival due to weather or lower-than-expected funds.
The council seemed impressed by the group.

“Honestly when I heard who was part of your group, I thought it would be like a souped-up church picnic minus the potluck,” Stillwater Mayor Ken Harycki said. “What you’re proposing is on a little larger scale, a more regional scale. I was expecting it to be a more low key thing like Summer Tuesdays, but I can see that this could be of interest to people in the metro area too.”

They did have some concerns, though. Councilman Mike Polehna, present via teleconference, asked if the festival would be sustainable, citing his experience with the Lake Elmo Jaycees and Derby Days, which started strong until the group burned out.

Council members cited the fact that some of the other groups pitching ideas could take a financial hit and still be okay and expressed financial concerns to The Locals. Councilman Doug Menikheim expressed concern about making payments on time to groups involved in the event. If financial challenges due to weather or other unexpected events arise, the group’s insurance advisor said the insurance would pay those debts if needed as the necessary amount would have to be paid up front to the company.

After hearing the presentation, the council opted to hold off on making a decision to get feedback from the community. A special work session to hash out a final decision is expected to be scheduled soon. The final decision will likely go to a vote Nov. 19.

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

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