Downtown businesses have big plans for Rambling River Days
Last summer, construction on Elm Street relocated most Rambling River Days activities to the area at or near the Schmitz-Maki ice arena.
Even though the Rambling River Days committee is hosting the same events at the ice arena this year, Farmington's Downtown Business Association hopes to bring some of their own activities back to the downtown area this summer. The DBA is putting on a variety of events during the first week of Rambling River Days.
"That first weekend is our opportunity to bring in a little fun to the downtown area," said Stacey Schultz, member of the DBA and owner of Bugaloo's Ice Cream Shoppe.
Because of construction last year, many downtown business were hit hard financially, even with last year's Summer Fest program of outdoor entertainment and Christmas events the DBA hosted.
"During the road construction, it was terrible." said Kim Kamen, co-owner of B&B Pizza and a DBA member.
This year, the Rambling River Days committee has decided once more to use the ice arena and the surrounding area for most of the festival events, mostly due to a need for more space to hold the events planned for this year. The downtown area doesn't have the space required for events like headliner bands or the 4,000 square foot tent where several activities are being held, according to Rambling River Days committee chairperson Maribeth Vanderbeck. There is also no good place to hold many of the outdoor events in the downtown area if inclement weather threatens to rain out Rambling River Days.
"The downtown area is just too small. There's no ifs, ands, or buts about it," said Dolly Newberg, a member of the Rambling River Days committee.
In order to keep a part of Rambling River Days in the downtown business area, the DBA decided it would work in cooperation with CEEF, the organization that sponsors Rambling River Days, to create more family-oriented entertainment for residents to enjoy and to extend Rambling River Days to a 10-day celebration. They've also decided to bring back a few events that Farmington hasn't hosted in years.
"The Rambling River Days events like the community used to know it doesn't exist anymore," said Schultz.
That's why the DBA is bringing back events like the Crazy Dayz sidewalk sale, a community event not seen in Farmington for many years, according to Schultz.
Back when Farmington had more retail businesses downtown, those businesses hosted a summer Crazy Dayz sidewalk sale. The DBA tried to put a sidewalk sale together last year, but it didn't go over very well, in part because most Rambling River Days events were hosted at the ice arena.
"People were just very confused," Schultz said.
This year, the one-day sale will take place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, June 14, and will have goods on display from several businesses.
The DBA is also sponsoring a motorcycle night later that Saturday. Because last year's car show was so successful, the DBA tried to secure another show for this year, but found most car shows booked for June. Nick Schultz, president of the DBA, came up with the idea to sponsor a motorcycle show. After securing sponsorship from local motorcycle businesses like Twin City Harley and Ghost Rides, the DBA received permission from the city to close streets in the downtown area to make room for what Schultz hopes will be 300 to 400 bikers. Anyone who owns a motorized bike of any kind is welcome to participate. There will be demonstrations from several motorcycle groups and a custom-paint artist, who will show several of his designs.
My Eyes ... My Heart... owner Laurie Brausen will sponsor a pie baking contest from 4 to 6 p.m., June 19. Participants will make four-inch pies that will be graded on a 100-point system by three judges, who haven't been chosen as of press time.
B&B Pizza will host a pizza-eating contest after the pie-baking contest, another past event that took place in Farmington. The last pizza-eating competition took place 14 years ago, according to Kamen. Participants will have to eat as many 10-inch double-decker cheese pizzas as they can in a set amount of time. B&B is also sponsoring several other events throughout the week including a Guitar Hero contest, a Hula Hoop contest inspired by a contest at Jellystone, and a pool tournament.
The DBA hopes to bring the community together during these events, according to Schultz. Instead of having Farmington residents segregate themselves into quadrants of residents who live on the north, south, or east side of town, the DBA wants to unite the community with these events.
The DBA also wants to bring some much-needed attention to the downtown business area, where several business owners are concerned over profit losses from last year's Elm Street construction and the loss of potential revenue to retail businesses in surrounding cities.