Water Carnival to be held in two locations this year
BEMIDJI—The Bemidji Water Carnival will be double-time in 2017, as two proposed locations for the city's 73rd annual summer celebration were approved by officials Monday.
The decision is a resolution to a saga for the Bemidji Jaycees that's spanned several weeks. The group, which organizes the event, initially planned to hold the Water Carnival mostly along Fourth Street from America Avenue to Bemidji Avenue (Highway 197) along with using parts of Minnesota Avenue and the City Hall parking lot.
However, this proposed plan raised concerns from numerous downtown businesses, causing the Jaycees to rescind its original request and select another location. After exploring their options, the Jaycees chose to hold the event in two places, the parking lot of the Sanford Center and a section of Paul Bunyan Park, north of the Tourist Information Center.
"There was passion behind both arguments for the downtown and South Shore locations," Jaycees President Josh Peterson said. "We looked at this as our great compromise to give something back to both sides of the issue."
The resolution, approved unanimously by the City Council, sets aside time for the Jaycees to use both locations from late June to early July. The setup will begin with an entertainment tent in Paul Bunyan Park on June 22 to accommodate the Fishing Has No Boundaries event.
The Jaycees will then set up for the area for the Water Carnival, with the entertainment tent and food vendors. About the same time, the Jaycees will also set up the Todd Meriam Midway Show at the Sanford Center parking lot, as well as an area for carnival employees' equipment. The Jaycees will be able to use both locations until July 6, so it can utilize the days after the Fourth of July for cleanup.
Along with using the Sanford Center parking lot, the resolution includes wording to allow the Jaycees to have access to the Nymore Boat Landing and parking lot on the South Shore for the fireworks display. Additionally, closure of a portion of Central Avenue, between Lake Shore Drive and Event Center Drive, is in the resolution.
For the Jaycees, the Sanford Center area is already familiar, as the Water Carnival was held there the past two years. The spot near the South Shore was used to avoid interfering with construction at Paul Bunyan Park.
Earlier this year, the Jaycees originally planned to move the Water Carnival from the Sanford Center to Fourth Street to be further away from development and the ongoing construction along the South Shore.
Parks and recreation
Another resolution passing with full council support Monday was a request from the Parks and Recreation Department to launch a new scholarship program.
Discussion of the scholarship began last year by a committee consisting of Parks and Trails Commissioners and department staff who were seeking ways to create a scholarship policy for recreation activities, specifically the Kids in Motion Day Camp.
The goal, according to city staff, is to ensure all children, regardless of the ability to pay, would be afforded the opportunity to participate in the day camp and other recreation programs. Staff reported to the council that the Northwest Minnesota Foundation is willing to work with the city by providing a scholarship fund through the existing Parks and Trails Fund.
With approval, the city now will be able to process scholarship applications while also requesting funding annually from the NMF. Along with the foundation, the scholarship will rely on support from fraternal organizations, businesses and individuals.
Scholarships will be provided to Bemidji residents and those who live in the surrounding region on a first-come, first-serve basis based on the availability of donated funds. Applicants will be required to pay a minimum of 50 percent of the camp registration fee. The Parks and Recreation Department will also sponsor an annual fundraising event to obtain additional donations.