A rising St. Croix River has organizers of Stillwater Lumberjack Days retooling the layout of this weekend’s festival in Lowell Park.
The Minnesota Department of Transportation may close the Stillwater Lift Bridge when the river reaches 686 feet. The Minnesota and Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources enforce a no-wake rule at 683 feet.
If the river crests at 686.1 as forecasted, water will be 8 feet above the walkway next to the river in downtown Stillwater.
That means The Locals will have to move Lumberjack Days music stage and beer garden from the banks of the St. Croix River to higher ground.
The music stage and beer tent will be moved to the parking lot next to the Water Street Inn, with kids activities being located nearby, Erin McQuay of The Locals said.
“The surprising news of the river rising 10 feet by Saturday was a struggle, ” McQuay said. “The reality was how wonderful our local businesses have been to help us out. Chuck Dougherty (owner of the Water Street Inn) is willing to change his business to help us put on a great community festival — and that’s pretty awesome.”
The Locals also plan to utilize the city’s pedestrian plaza, and move some of the vendors closer to Main Street. The lumberjack demonstrations will also be relocated to a parking lot in North Lowell Park.
At this point, it doesn’t appear that any of the Lumberjack Days events will be canceled, McQuay said. The gondola and pontoon rides may not happen on Sunday as the docks are expected to be under water. The fishing tournament on Saturday morning will likely be impacted, as well.
Lumberjack Days organizers, along with Stillwater police and firefighters will continue to monitor the river’s water level throughout the weekend.
“It’s been a stressful day, ” McQuay said. “But we’re looking forward to having a wonderful community celebration. I mean seriously … water schmater, it’ll be a great event. We have to rethink the layout, but we are going to have a fun weekend no matter what.”
Two years ago, The Locals had to rethink the original festival layout because the St. Croix River spilled its banks.
“Two years ago, we dealt with what was considered to be a once-in-100 years flood event, ” McQuay said. “I guess we’re lucky enough to have two 100-year flood events in three years… The festival layout will look a little different, but I encourage people to come hang out with us this weekend — it’s going to be a fun time.”