St. Paul ends contract with 'Taste of Minnesota'by Laura Yuen, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — The Taste of Minnesota is getting booted off the island.
St. Paul's parks and recreation director, Mike Hahm, sent a letter today notifying festival organizers that the city is ending its contract with the popular 4th of July festival on Harriet Island.
It's unclear what this means for the future of Taste, a private business venture. Festival co-owner Andy Faris did not return a phone call seeking comment.
But it's probably safe to say that there will be no Taste, a St. Paul tradition for nearly three decades, next year in the city, Hahm said.
"It's a tough day," Hahm said. "This has been something that's been a part of what we've done as a city, for a number of years. It's unfortunate that a number of people haven't been paid, including the city. At this point in time, this is in the best interest of the city to terminate the agreement and take whatever steps are next."
Event organizers owe parks and recreation about $23,600 in rental fees and other costs, and an additional $80,000 in security costs to St. Paul police, Hahm said. He said a number of vendors also haven't been paid.
The payment to parks and recreation was due Sept. 2, but the city gave Faris another month to come up with the money - or a financial plan on how he would make the payment. Neither came on Monday, the city's hard deadline. At that time, Faris asked the city for a 30-day extension.
Hahm said the city will consider other uses for Harriet Island, a vast riverfront park, for next summer around the July 4th holiday.
The Taste has not turned a profit since Farris took over the festival two years ago. He blamed lower attendance last summer on bad weather, while acknowledging a new $30 admission fee may have deterred some people. Until last year, the event was free.