“We haven’t finalized all the figures yet, but we’re calling Heart of the Prairie Days a success even with the weather,” said Clarkfield Civic and Commerce’s Steph Randall addressing the Clarkfield City Council Tuesday night.
This past weekend Clarkfield C&C hosted the city’s annual summer celebration. In recent years the celebration has struggled at times being shoe-horned into a tough set of dates; scheduling around Yellow Medicine East graduation and the rest of the area’s community celebrations. Volunteer leadership to take on the challenge of organizing such an event has also, at times, been a catching point; threatening the civic celebration’s continuity.
Then there’s weather, and with rain threatening and temperatures dropping this past weekend, the event and participation numbers seemed visibly dampened. But those who did brave the elements commented positively on the events of the weekend.
“I thought having a lot of the events centered around North Park was great,” said councilman Dave Biermaier, who also volunteered over the weekend.
Randall concurred, “We thought we had a great set-up with North Park and the [Emergency Medical Services Building]. I heard from several people how nice [the EMS building] was and how well it worked for a community event like this.”
Brought up at Tuesday night’s meeting was a minor controversy among some of the city’s Fire Department and Ambulance members as far as the proper use for the EMS building outside of fire and ambulance service.
Newly appointed councilman Robert Schlenner said he fielded some phone calls and comments regarding C&C’s use of the building as part of Saturday night’s street dance (which saw roughly 300 people). “I thought they were really out of line. And I’m sorry you had to deal with any of that,” said Schlenner addressing Randall.
“That’s the public’s building not the Fire Department’s,” said Clarkfield Mayor Gene Kockelman. “And besides, we’ve always used the fire hall during Heart of the Prairie Days and it’s been used for other functions before. I don’t know why anyone would make it an issue now.”
Public Works Director Jeff Lobdell, also a firefighter and speaking from the audience Tuesday night said, “The majority of the fire department and ambulance are 100 percent behind the C&C on this. There’s just a few people that take a lot of ownership in that building. Safety’s important, but in this instance I don’t see that as being affected much.”
Randall, who is also on the ambulance crew, concurred with Lobdell’s assessment.
Page 2 of 2 - Randall did ask the council to draft a memo expressing the city’s support in the C&C using a city building for a civic event. The council agreed and passed a motion stating the building could be used for similar civic events in the future.”
The council also commented positively on the C&C’s use of a volunteering website that coordinated volunteers for the weekend.
“It takes a village, literally,” said Randall. “I know people were worried at the beginning of this thing, but it all came together. We’d like to start planning for next year now.”