Q&A: The Costs of Keeping Fridley 49er Days Free

A member of the 49er Days Committee responds to complaints about no rides or fireworks this year.

What will and won't be at Fridley's 49er Days festival is a topic of conversation as the event nears. 49er Days Committee member Sue Johnson responded to some of the concerns.

Fridley Patch: What are you hearing from people about features from past 49er Days that aren't part of the festival this year?

Sue Johnson: As our event grows closer we find that we have been hearing from people expressing their disappointment, and even being upset about this year’s festival because there will be no rides nor will there be fireworks.  That is unfortunate. Many people (residents) donate a number of hours to put this festival on for their neighbors and friends in Fridley—nobody is paid for their time.

Fridley Patch: What are the reasons for not having those features this year?

Johnson: First, I’d like to point out that the festival is put on solely by donations to provide residents an event that is low cost to attend.  If it wasn’t for the businesses/organizations who donate, there would be no festival.  If people who are currently “disappointed” in what the festival offers would like to help the committee solicit more donations (approx $10,000) for the fireworks, the committee would welcome your assistance with future festivals. Secondly, there is more to bringing in rides than you think. You need space to accommodate a variety of rides (which Fridley is limited on), you need to find a date that a company can come, and you need to have a big enough venue that would make them want to come—which Fridley does not. Notice that I am not using the word carnival as I explain about the rides. Truly, a carnival (according to one source) is defined as a public celebration: a public festive occasion or period, often with street processions, costumes, music, and dancing—this is what the 49er Day Festival is all about.

Fridley Patch: How much will it cost to put on this year’s 49er Days?

Johnson: This year we have two (free) street dances—the bands cost about $5,000 to bring in.  We will also have pony rides for the kids—about $900; advertising, and a list of miscellaneous other items can run about $3,000. We are also bringing in USA Inflatables who will be setting up Moon Bouncers, slides, and a bunch of other BIG cool stuff for all ages to enjoy. The committee members believe that this is a great alternative to the “carnival” rides offered in the past – but is costing 49er Days. The Fridley Lions club sponsors and organizes one of the best parades in this area at a cost of about $10,000—so far, based on the numbers I’ve listed the total cost is up to approximately $19,000.

Fridley Patch: What can people who are interested in 49er Days do to help?

Johnson: As with many things, it is difficult to please everyone, but the mission of the committee members is to provide a low-cost community celebration for residents to enjoy and perhaps get to meet their fellow neighbors. If our community/residents believe that the committee should charge fees for things that are now being offered for free to help raise money for future festivals, we’d be glad to hear from them. Comments can be posted on the Fridley Days Facebook page or e-mailed to fridley49ers@gmail.com




Pam Reynolds June 20, 2012 at 06:49 PM
Stop having it.
PK June 20, 2012 at 08:17 PM
For my family, this weekend event has always been about our bringing our hometown community and friends and family together to celebrate each other and our "friendly" City. It saddens me to hear some people are complaining that things are not measuring up to their expectations considering all the effort that volunteers contribute to make the annual 49er Days happen. I feel we are also very lucky to have the luxury of the Midway at the State Fair, ValleyFair, and even Nickelodeon Universe to be able to enjoy rides year round. It sounds like there are some fun new alternative inflatables and games this year, and hoping that people check it out before they make commentary on what is perceived to be lacking by not having a costly metal carnival at 49er Days. There is also opportunity for viewing many amazing fireworks displays throughout the summer in closely surrounding metro areas, so just really not feeling we are being terribly put out. The Calendar of Events is still noteworthy, especially for a local celebration with a limited budget. I commend the Parks and Rec Dept. for another awesome affordable family friendly event they have planned, and thank them for all the hard work that they and volunteers do to raise money and all the help during 49er Days. I hope anyone who has ever enjoyed this event will express your appreciation too!
LJ June 21, 2012 at 07:23 PM
I thought is was crazy having the festival at the same time as the Columbia Heights carnival this year. Why even bother? Here's an idea..why not just have the parade and fireworks at the park. Then invite some of the food trucks that are in Mpls during the lunch hour to sell food before the fireworks. I think it would be a treat for folks who don't get a chance try some various foods that are made by the truck vendors. They are in the papers all the time. The city would just have to pay for fireworks!
HEO June 23, 2012 at 11:34 PM
This year's 49er's day is a true representation of the overall city. The only ideas for development are senior housing and low-income/homeless shelters. More children from other cities are attending our schools than residential children and more than 50% of Fridley children are attending schools elsewhere like families will be doing this year for their family entertainment. For those stating we have limited space, why not use the vacant lots owned by the city along University or the abundance of vacant parking lots where businesses have left. As far as donations, there should be a year long effort of collecting donations such as donation boxes at local businesses for community events or if allowed pull tabs at local bars or liquor stores. it seems the only times Fridley is making the news is for negative issues (train derailment, sewer leakage and high cancer rate) and soon we will be called failing Fridley. We need to work to improve that image and it starts with the little things like 49er Days, which brings the community together.


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