AUSTIN EDITION State Fair is costly special event for city
FALCON HEIGHTS, Minn. -- Residents here like to joke that their city is one of the smallest in the metro area -- until the State Fair turns it into a bustling city, with 1.6 million people passing through.
But it's not so funny when you add up the tab: $25,000, mostly for law enforcement and public works.
The city does not receive any fair revenue, so are the costs worth it?
"There's a wide range of feelings about the impact," said Falcon Heights Mayor Sue Gehrz. "I think it's important to keep your sense of humor about it."
Keeping traffic flowing is the biggest task for the city, which is under contract with the city of St. Anthony for law enforcement.
During the two-week fair, public works crews must make extra time to place no-parking signs on the north and west side of the streets to allow for emergency vehicles to pass. Crews clean trash spilled over from the fairgrounds. Bill Maertz, public works and parks director, said fair organizers have placed two dozen trash bins within a four-block radius of the Fairgrounds.
Also, unlike their St. Paul neighbors, who charge up to $15 a car for parking in their yards, Falcon Heights residents are prohibited by city ordinance from turning lawns into parking lots.
Angie McCoy and her three children, however, like the entertainment value of living on the corner of Iowa Avenue and Pascal Street. They people-watch and cheer on vehicles fighting over parking spots.
Despite all of the adjustments residents said they make, people who complain often said the hassle is worth it.
"It's kind of a way of life. If you're going to live here, you have to like the State Fair to a certain degree," said Randi Tomlinson, a Pascal Street resident who walks to the Fair a few times each year.
The fair began Aug. 22 and runs through Labor Day.