Pierz entourage asks County Board to approve Freedom Fest application

By Terry Lehrke, News Editor

The Pierz Commercial Club is planning a new event — Pierz Freedom Day — with Saturday, July 6 being the target date.

The plan is to feature two cover bands, “Loose Talk,” and a well-known country band, which has yet to be booked and fireworks. Some camping will be available as well.

Before that can happen, the Morrison County Board of Commissioners must approve the license application for such a large assembly.

“It’s a good spot,” said Commissioner Don Meyer. “These guys work their butts off. It’s a good deal to get behind.”

Sheriff Michel Wetzel told the Board he met with Pierz Commercial Club Member Lloyd Boeder and Pierz Police Chief Eric Hanneken.

The sheriff’s concern is that the event is slated for a holiday weekend, sandwiched between Fourth of July celebrations and Bowlus Fun Day, Sunday, July 7.

“We don’t have people to dedicate to that event,” said Wetzel.

Based on the music component and the number of people that may show up, Wetzel said the Pierz Police Department could cover with two officers, assisted by two deputies from the Sheriff’s Department. In addition to that, Wetzel said the city should contact Security Specialists and have one of their staff for every 100 – 200 people.

Meyer asked how they could determine a number.

“We’re hoping for 2,000 people,” said Boeder.

“We put a max cap of 5,000 on it,” said Pierz City Administrator Anna Gruber. “I’d be shocked if we get half of that.”

At this point, it’s all guesses, she said.

To prevent underage drinking at the event, photo ID will be required for anyone wishing to be served from a contained designated area, and will be given a wristband.

Wetzel said a multi-colored wristband must be used.

“Kids figure out pretty fast what color wrist bands are and make their own,” he said.

Public Health Director Bonnie Paulsen suggested that people be allowed to purchase just one beer at a time, to prevent sharing with minors once they leave the booth.

In addition, Paulsen said Public Health needed to be notified of how many camp sites would be set up. Camping for more than four units requires a license from Public Health. Gruber said the camping piece will be figured out after the snow has melted.

Another concern is that entrances to the 40-acre Genola ballfield come off Highway 25, where the speed limit is 55 miles per hour. Signs will need to be posted to notify oncoming traffic that there may be slowdowns near the entrances.

Commissioner Jeff Jelinski suggested notifying the Minnesota State Patrol about whether lit-up speed signs were available through that agency.

Gruber said Police Chief Hanneken had already been looking at sign possibilities for the city’s Oktoberfest celebration and may be able to inquire for this event as well.

Commissioner Randy Winscher suggested the group talk to organizers of Halfway Jam just south of Royalton off Highway 10.

The Board will consider the license application Tuesday during its regular meeting.