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River Falls Days is riverbound

The City Council OK’d the use of city land and services that gives the go-ahead for the new River Falls Days 2014 location.

The proposal is now reality: July’s summer festival known as River Falls Days will move.

“We’re extremely excited about the change and glad to have the decision behind us so we can proceed with planning and focusing on details,” said Chamber of Commerce CEO Chris Blasius. “There was a strong sense to keep the festival in the downtown hub.

“The new location does that and it was really the final spot available that we could identify. It uses city property and features a natural environment with the river setting.”

In January the City Council approved the new site that parallels the Kinnickinnic River on either side of West Maple Street past the bridge.

The old site, for the most part, was held in the 100 block of East Locust Street and the First National Bank parking lot.

Blasius had said River Falls Days attendance and finances stagnated in recent years, with gate revenues declining for the Friday and Saturday night music shows.

River Falls Days is by far the chamber’s largest annual fundraiser.

The sense that something needed doing to re-energize River Falls Days was a key motivation for picking a new site.

The council’s approval for the site means city land can be used, including at Heritage Park and green space in front of City Hall and continuing northeast along the river.

The city’s help will also be given for temporary electrical service and lighting, policing, barricades and fencing.

Blasius said the new site has great potential.

“It’s laid out in an area that should make it more efficient to use,” she said. “At the old site we had to block off streets, there was congestion, medians, curbs and an ATM machine to deal with.

“The new site has more open spaces, benches and, the biggest draw, are the views of the river. People can come and set out their lawn chairs and blankets during the activities and events.”

A potential controversy for the River Falls Days carnival has also been avoided.

The carnival was slated to go either on steep sloping West Maple Street just past the bridge or on a two-block residential stretch of Lewis Street.

Instead the carnival will be on the northwestern edge of the new River Falls Days site that ends at West Cedar Street.

For the complete story, please see the Feb. 6 print edition of the River Falls Journal.