Weather Forecast

Austin Wallestad of Bemidji adds a little ketchup to his Stittsworth brat Tuesday afternoon at Stittsworth Meats' new location, 716 Paul Bunyan Drive NW. Stittsworth Meats, a longtime Jaycees' supporter, has been told it can no longer be a vendor in the Bemidji Jaycees Home, Sports and Travel Show because the Sanford Center will not allow food vendors with products that compete directly with the offerings in its own concession stands. Monte Draper | Bemidji Pioneer

Stittsworth plans to be in Jaycees' show, grill brats at stores

Email Sign up for Breaking News Alerts
business Bemidji,Minnesota 56619
Bemidji Pioneer
(218) 333-9819 customer support
Stittsworth plans to be in Jaycees' show, grill brats at stores
Bemidji Minnesota P.O. Box 455 56619

A popular Bemidji meat market plans to participate in the Jaycees' Home, Sport and Travel Show next month, but won't be selling its popular brats there.


Instead, Stittsworth Meats will be a non-food vendor and distribute brochures and coupons to attendees. The business also plans to grill brats at its two locations during the event, which runs from March 30-April 1.

The decision by Stittsworth owners comes one day after the Sanford Center advisory board offered a compromise for food vendors, cutting its original 35 percent sales commission to 20 percent for 2012.

The advisory board voted Tuesday to offer a lower commission and then pursue an escalating percentage of 3 percent per year over the next five years.

"We could not feel comfortable charging $8 for a brat just so we could pay our expense to be a food vendor," Corey Stittsworth told the Bemidji Jaycees, which posted the comment on its Facebook page. "After all we have to be fiscally responsible so that we can pay our taxes to support the Sanford Center. We will also sponsor a new Jaycee member at each store."

Char Blashill, the Jaycees' chairwoman for the show, said Stittsworth attending the show was good news.

"It's pretty awesome," Blashill said in a phone interview today. "I'm very happy they are coming.

"Now if we can just get people to come and not boycott."

Previously, several people threatened to boycott the show over the commission squabble, according to Blashill and posts to online social networking sites.

At a Sanford Center advisory board meeting Tuesday, members unanimously approved a revision to allow food vendors to pay 20 percent commission on gross sales during the show. Food vendors also wouldn't have to pay commission on gross sales for their first $300 per booth.

In addition, the Sanford Center plans to sell its own concessions during the show.

The city-owned event center is managed by VenuWorks.

Roger Swanson, a VenuWorks employee and executive director of the event center, said the policy is common practice, and the facility has a "fiduciary duty to its client" to make as much money as possible.

"When 100 percent of food and beverage (sales) go out the backdoor, it's not fair to the city," Swanson said Tuesday.

The Jaycees have not signed a contract with the Sanford Center for this year's show but the two sides plan to meet this week.

At least three food vendors from last year's show plan to return: Pitty Pat's from Park Rapids, Townsend Concessions from Fergus Falls and OOf-da Tacos from Erskine. In addition, Papa Murphy's plans to sell pizza at the trade show, Blashill said today.

She is waiting for a decision from three other food vendors, but hopes to know by the end of the week.

Overall, about 100 vendors of all kinds have committed to the 2012 show. While that's fewer than the 124 last year, Blashill said more vendors are registered this year compared to the same time last year.

Still, changes with the food vendors have created some uncertainty, she said.

The new policy provided "sticker shock" to food vendors, Blashill said. "We'll see what happens after this year."

Steve Wagner
Grand Forks Herald Editor Steve Wagner can be reached at 701.780.1104 and He joined the Herald in April 2013, and previously worked as editor at the Bemidji (Minn.) Pioneer and in several newsroom roles -- including news director, investigative reporter and cops/court reporter - at The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead. His experience includes extensive reporting related to Dru Sjodin's disappearance and the federal death penalty case for her murderer, Alfonso Rodriguez Jr., along with projects about immigration, the fatal 2002 train derailment in Minot, N.D., and the 20th anniversary of Gordon Kahl's massacre of U.S. marshals. Wagner also worked as a reporter at newspapers in the Twin Cities and Iowa. In his spare time, Wagner is an avid runner and occasionally writes about his experiences on his blog, Addicted to Running.
(701) 780-1104