What Should Stillwater’s Lumberjack Days Replacement Look Like?

What would you like a replacement to Lumberjack Days look like? Check out the results of the ReadEx Community Events survey and share your ideas in the comment section below.

The results of the recent ReadEx survey about future events in Stillwater told the City Councilmembers that the majority of businesses and residents want some sort of summer festival — but they're split when it comes to what exactly that should look like.

“We asked a bit about how a replacement for Lumberjack Days should look, and basically half the community said they want one smaller than Lumberjack Days and the other half wants something the same size or larger,” Michele Hanson of ReadEx told the council. “This is your biggest dilemma right here, because you have no clear answer about where to go.”

PDF: Click here to view the ReadEx PowerPoint Presentation to the council.

While 50 percent of residents wanted something smaller, the survey says, 41 percent of the businesses in town support a smaller event.

On average, the participants said they didn't feel inconvenienced by past events. Those who were inconvenienced said traffic and a lack of parking were the biggest issues. 

As for what residents would support for a replacement LJD event, it was all about kids’ events, fireworks, food vendors, smaller/local acts, lumberjack exhibitions and a parade. Sixty-six percent of those surveyed also said they'd like to see a marathon, bicycle race or a water show.

FUN FACT: One percent of those surveyed said they want a Lumberjack Day's replacement to go down in January.

Nearly twice as many support concerts by smaller/local acts (83 percent) as opposed to big-name acts (43 percent), Hanson said, but how someone perceives big-name act is ambiguous.

Sixty-seven percent of those surveyed said they would like to see a mix of event sizes in Stillwater, including one large “draw,” and several smaller events that focus on locals — just shy of 80 percent say they think Stillwater has "about the right amount of events."

The council set a workshop meeting for March 21 to further discuss replacement events.

The Six Objectives of the Survey:

  1. Evaluate community preferences for a summer festival;
  2. Identify the maximum acceptable impact of events on neighborhoods, businesses and city resources;
  3. Identify the kinds of events desired by the community;
  4. Determine which neighborhoods and commercial districts are appropriate venues for events that use public resources ,streets, sidewalks and parks;
  5. Help the Council determine the maximum number of allowable events in a year, and decide whether multiple substantially similar events should be allowed, and if so, at what frequency;
  6. Help the Council form a comprehensive events policy.

Takeaways from LJD Replacement Event Survey

  • Two in three community members support the creation of a replacement event for LJD in the future;
  • Community is divided about whether the event should be smaller or the same/larger
  • Residents are slightly more likely than businesses to want something smaller
  • Those who are the least likely to have attended LJD in the past 4 years or to have spent money if they did attend events are the ones who are most likely to support a smaller event
  • Nearly twice as many support a concert by smaller/local acts as big name acts
  • More support it being held downtown than at another local park
  • July is the month preferred by the most

Survey Results about Events in General:

  • Two in three community members would like to see a mix of event sizes in Stillwater, including one large “draw” and several smaller events that focus on local residents;
  • Four in five think Stillwater typically has about the right amount of events;
  • Most agree that past events have had a positive impact on the city and its business community;
  • On average, they felt the inconvenience of past events was minimal/non-existent to them personally;
  • Traffic and lack of parking were the biggest inconveniences A majority support each type of event being held downtown; some events could be in other local parks, too;
  • Few want events in their own neighborhood.

Survey Method

Population Percentage of Population Number Surveyed Number of Responses Response Rate Businesses 493 7 493 219 44 West Stillwater 1,142 17 395 221 56 Middle Stillwater 2,557 38 396 252 64 Original Stillwater 2,257 33 396 238 60

Downtown Stillwater

320 5 320 175


Of the 2,000 surveys sent out, 1,105 participants responded for a 55 percent response rate. The survey was done from Dec. 11, 2012 through Jan. 24, 2013. Source: ReadEx Community Events Survey.


Survey: Stillwater Residents Want a New Event to Replace Lumberjack Days

City Council to Consider Extending Moratorium on Events in Stillwater ... Until Further Notice

What Should a Summer Festival in Stillwater Look Like?

The survey was conducted by mail. ReadEx first sent out an alert letter letting participants know they would recieve a a survey packet with a letter from the mayor and a postage-paid reply envelope. A similar followup survey packet was later sent out to those who didn't respond.

Last July, the city council  to gain feedback on what a future summer festival in Stillwater should look like. Funds for the survey came from the lodging tax.

HMW February 27, 2013 at 02:47 PM
I want wiener dog race like they do over in Wayzata for their James J. Hill Days celebration. It is so much fun to watch the little dogs run. They also get chuck and don's to come out and do Flyball demonstrations. The races draw huge crowds of wiener dog lovers....What needs to be done to get this going?
Paul Randall February 27, 2013 at 04:01 PM
The "Lumberjack" theme is consistent with the history of the city and should be preserved. How could anyone argue that a parade would not be popular? Cultural events in addition to theme park events may broaden the interest, something beyond just drinking beer, eating and throwing your garbage on the ground. I can remember being fairly depressed on the site of downtown after some of the 'Lumberjack Days' events. Open plays in the Lowell Park area might be interesting, on the river, on the day of the fireworks, after the parade, under the stars.
Matt February 27, 2013 at 05:39 PM
So let me get this straight, Susan, we should call this "Public Urination Days." You've beat that dead horse. I gave input into this survey and I live five blocks from downtown. I am a proponent of the idea in its original form. I think it has been a great event. People are spending money at local establishments and restaurants and bringing their kids downtown during the day for family activities; and yes, there are rock n roll bands and adults drinking. If this is done responsibly and with adequate support from police and an ethical event organizer, it could be a great summertime event. Re: Cleanup problems/Lowell Park - I would never categorize that strip of land as a park. I am more depressed that the space is called a park than I am seeing some trampled grass after a LJD event. Re: the survey - I thought the survey itself was poorly implemented. Questions did a poor job of developing relevant feedback for a strategy; instead they were, in summary: "Do you want a small, med, or large LJD-like event?"
Randy Marsh February 27, 2013 at 06:37 PM
HMW, I think the whole point is to try and prevent drunken rioting, which you seem to be suggesting. I think a Sturgis-style motorcycle festival would create fewer issues than wiener dog lovers.
Randy Marsh February 27, 2013 at 06:42 PM
God help us all if this new festival turns into Shakespeare in the Park. This event needs decent local/regional bands and beer that doesn't cost $8. People can deal with a little noise and extra traffic for 3 days out of the year. Of course if you want to ensure no crowds, then let's go with all those cultural events.
Mark Luebker February 27, 2013 at 07:47 PM
I'm with the one percent that wants an event in January--the REAL Minnesota experience!
Mark Luebker February 27, 2013 at 07:49 PM
I also like the implication of "Determine which neighborhoods and commercial districts are appropriate venues for events." It would be great to see the celebration spread across the whole community and not just confined to the downtown area.
Debbie Preuss February 28, 2013 at 12:13 AM
$15,500 spent to send out 2000 surveys?? Couldn't that amount of money been spent more wisely??
Amy Schwartz McKee February 28, 2013 at 02:08 AM
Totally agree about the misappropriation of funds on this survey. I participated, but really wondered about the amount of postage and paper and data entry spent when there are many, many FREE online survey packages available! Plus the sampling was way off for 'middle' and 'original' Stillwater, whatever those are.
christine thole February 28, 2013 at 01:50 PM
I suggest promoting our businesses! We all remember the LBJ sidewalk sales and while shopping for great deals the anticipation of a pickle from Brines! It makes no sense at all to me that the typical LBJ days of recent past has been set up to keep the crowds away from the beautiful main street that we are all so proud of and that tourists come to see every other day of the year. That's my 2 cents.
Paul Randall February 28, 2013 at 01:58 PM
Oh! Now I see the error in my thinking! Yes we should follow the advise of those interested in local bands and cheap beer. While we are at it lets all get out our four wheel trucks with big tires and hold a contest to see who can spin the biggest "shi##ies" in the middle of Lowell Park. No, I know! We could have a log pull right down the middle of Main street - you know - like a tractor pull except with big trucks all with big tires. We could see who could pull the most logs! WOW! And, thousands of motorcycles, Harley's (I'll bring my Vespa, my other bike is a Harley) all over the place. We will drink our cheap beer and listen to local bands until we are all drunk and puking. Then we can all stumble home through the garbage that we have thrown onto the ground, puking and peeing in our neighbors yards as we go. Imagine!, it could be just like EdgeFest in Wisconsin and we could provide plenty of work for our police and State Troopers! WOW! What was I thinking when I suggested cultural events? BTW, I don't mind Harley's - that is another type of cultural event.
christine thole February 28, 2013 at 02:02 PM
Hey Paul, what year is your Vespa? If we have the ridiculous event that you are suggesting can I drive your Vespa? I love Vespas:)
Paul Randall February 28, 2013 at 02:19 PM
I have a 2007 Vespa and a 1998 Harley. I love them both, but for getting around town there is nothing like my Vespa. You will see me on it spring through fall. I might let you ride my Vespa, but you must to wear a helmet and a smile!!!!!
Matt February 28, 2013 at 04:21 PM
No doubt all that debouchery was fine when you were in your youth. Maybe at that Foghat concert in 1974? LOL. Oh, that's right, the 60's-70's was the teetotaler's era, I forgot. How wise we all get once we've grown up and get a little streak of misanthropy. I think Altamont, 1969, laid the groundwork for all the hooliganism-at-concerts we have seen since. But it wasn't Bud Light they were drinking, was it? No, it was LSD and hardcore amphetamines. I doubt anyone is tripping in Lowell Park listening to geezer rock. Except maybe the 65-yr olds who know what they are doing. Not that I would have missed that Altamont show, of course; I just wouldn't have been in the front row where those Harley riders were hanging out.
Randy Marsh February 28, 2013 at 06:23 PM
I was a regular attendee of Lumberjack Days and outside of the Lynyrd Skynyrd debacle the issues and problems have been few and far between. The douchebaggery always exists, but the honest to goodness debauchery has been vastly overblown. If you want an event that draws 13 people than have at it, Paul, but if you want an event this community can get behind you need to have a variety of events and forget about wasting valuable space along the river with some two-bit theatrical performance that only a mother would love. Maybe for the first year they should try your idea in Pioneer Park and let's keep the real fun downtown and see what the people want. I don't need a $15,000 survey to answer that question. But, I'm sure your mime festival will be a smashing success.
Matt February 28, 2013 at 07:23 PM
Wait a minute! A mime festival! You know with some ice cream and "Old-Tyme" baseball, we could have something!
Carbon Bigfuut March 01, 2013 at 12:22 AM
I like Randy's ideas of a Shakespeare and mime festival at Pioneer park. It's actually an ideal site for that venue. Not that I would actually GO to a Shakespeare and mime festival.
Carbon Bigfuut March 01, 2013 at 12:29 AM
Is Russ Wolf still around, and could he put a band together for "Polka in the Park"? That, and the neighboring beer garden, were a big hit 20 years ago. Seriously, take a look at how Hudson does their 4th of July "Booster Days" celebration, if you want to see a great example of keeping it centered on the citizens. They have a Friday and Saturday night concert/dance using Twin City bands and draw plenty of people.
Patricia Thomsen March 01, 2013 at 03:05 AM
I agree with you debbie on that one !!!
christine thole March 01, 2013 at 03:04 PM
How about an interpretive dance competition? Randy?
HMW March 01, 2013 at 05:15 PM
Randy, sorry for not agreeing with you, but I like the old lumberjack days...the ones that were just a bit more family friendly. I'm a resident here - didn't go to LJD this past year, but I did go to some other festivals in the area. Personally I think we need to tone LJD down. And yeah, the wiener dog lovers are a rowdy group....Dog demos draw some pretty good crowds. And yes, I think we should have a parade, some carny rides, I wish we could have sidewalk sales again...if not down town, then up on the "strip". LJD used to start on Thursday with the sidewalk sales. Local bands would be good, but maybe limit that to Fri and Sat. Have some of the "calmer" events on Sunday or Saturday mornings/afternoon. I don't think it is or would be a bad thing to have a cultural event. Definitely ought to have logging related events again.
Pam French March 02, 2013 at 02:22 AM
Close off the downtown for foot traffic only for a sidewalk sale for that weekend. Allow street artists to entertain and put tables and chairs in front of the restaurants to encourage more patronage. Have local band concerts in the evenings at Lowell Park with a juried art show.
Scott in Wisconsin March 03, 2013 at 10:56 PM
An event in Stillwater could focus on what put it on the map in the first place, the river. An on the water antique boat show, competitions similar to the milk carton boat races (with unique materials), canoe races, a nightime lighted boat parade, a daytime parade on the river with floats, bands, etc..., food and drink competitons between the local establishments in which the parameters are only revealed at the start of the weekend, sidewalk sales, a street dance........
HMW March 03, 2013 at 11:28 PM
Good ideas...
Becky Garner Jenkins August 24, 2013 at 05:29 PM
I hadn't gone to Lumberjack Days since they started the whole Big Bands deal. It's too much. I grew up in this town, I loved and appreciated the old Lumberjack Days with carnivals for the kids. Rides and games. Bingo, sidewalk sales, races and log rolling, Tree cutting. It was created years ago by Stillwater residents, and should remain by Stillwater Residents. I know of many people who put their hearts and souls into Lumberjack Days. Some to keep it going. I would do anything to get that old time back! Should be for the kids. Not for the music and drinking and all about making the almighty dollar. Stillwater people should be the ones to decide. This is my town, I live and have always lived here. I want the old Lumberjack Days back. And so does everybody else I know. Why does it have to be big? Every town has a Day for having fun and bringing your family to the doings. Not ours. And not our fault. What happened to our beautiful little town? I remember how beautiful the park used to look when it was called the Sunken Gardens. We just want a small festival for the kids to enjoy and experience. Sorry, I'm just upset still about this whole mess. We've been robbed of our excitement and fun. Not to mention our beautiful town.


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