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Flood Run organizers threatened MR boycott

Local businesses in Maiden Rock, such as the Six String Saloon, Ole’s Bar and others look forward to the bi-annual Flood Run that brings thousands of participants down the Highway 35 River Road. (Herald photo by Sarah Young)

MAIDEN ROCK -- Flood Run participants looking for the official Flood Run/Polaris booth in Maiden Rock will have to travel to Pepin this year to find it, thanks to a disagreement between village officials, Flood Run organizers and local businesses who wanted to solve the problem.

While a proposed boycott of Maiden Rock village and businesses by Flood Runners seems to have been put by the wayside, a social media storm swirled last week as comments were slung back and forth.

Flood Run organizers (who raise money for Gillette Children’s Hospital) claim they’ve been allowed to have a merchandise booth and space for their top sponsor in Maiden Rock’s village park free of charge for a decade in exchange for the local ambulance company selling trademarked Flood Run fundraiser pins.

Flood Run representative Brian Denny claims Maiden Rock village president Judy Daleiden approached the Polaris booth (the top sponsor) at the Spring Flood Run last April to tell them they needed to pay the vendor fee charged by the village to be in the park. She said in an email she doesn’t know who asked Polaris to pay the $500 fee.

“They had to pay $500 to stay?” Denny posted. “They decided to end the deal without saying a thing. I heard about it on Monday after the Run and the Flood Run had to reimburse the Polaris dealership the $500 because they were promised the space they had to pay for.”

Attempts to contact Denny personally went unreturned.

The village’s side

Denny threatened legal action at the May Maiden Rock village board meeting if the village board didn’t reimburse Polaris $495 in vending permit fees. He later decided against taking the matter to civil court, his post stated.

He told board members a 10-year “handshake” agreement between Flood Run and Maiden Rock-Plum City Area Ambulance has resulted in no vendor fees being charged.

Daleiden said she found no such agreement in village records and the board refused to reimburse the money. Denny was told the Ambulance organization is a separate entity from the village.

“The Village of Maiden Rock charges vendors $110 for a designated 10-by10-foot space,” Daleiden said in an email Sunday. “In February 2016 Zappo Sports, a Polaris dealer from Chippewa Falls requested six vending spots. They were given a 25 percent quantity discount and charged $495.

“The Board voted unanimously not to refund the fees and noted that all vendors pay the stated fees. While I applaud Flood Run, Inc.'s efforts to raise funds for Gillette Children's Hospital, the Wisconsin Public Purpose Doctrine make is clear that it would be illegal for the Village to contribute public resources for the benefit of Flood Run, Inc. or its primary charity, Gillette Children's Hospital.”

Daleiden also said the village has no record of any agreement between Flood Run, Inc. and MRPCS Ambulance as the village only contracts with the ambulance (along with five other municipalities). It is a its own entity, separate from the village.

“It would, however, be wonderful if Flood Run, Inc. helped support the EMT services that are on standby during the run,” Daleiden added.

The Flood Run’s response to the village’s refusal to refund the fee was to move their booth to The Bear’s Den Bar & Grill in Pepin.

“We won't pay to attend our party! ...We won't be in the park and their pins won't be sold,” Denny posted.

Other comments on social media urged bikers to pass by Maiden Rock completely, not spending money in the village at all.

“If people stay away from Maiden Rock, and the businesses feel it, then those businesses may decide to drive a change in the town council,” one post read. “It's the only way to show them that you're displeased with how things were handled.”

Daleiden said the number of vendors scheduled in the park Sept. 17 is unknown, but that all vendors are charged $110 for a 10-by-10-foot space. She also said not all businesses benefit from the traffic of the Flood Run and choose to close that day.

Another business owner along Highway 35 lamented a potential boycott of local businesses. He said while he doesn’t get a ton of extra business during the Flood Run, people have told him they make a point to return at a different time.

“The Flood Run going through town gives all those bikers a great preview of the Village and many probably come back to visit other times of year,” the business person said.

Daleiden said she hopes misleading social media discussions will not impact local businesses.

“The hard working owners and their staff have been serving the bi-annual flood run bikers since 1965, long before Flood Run, Inc. was formed, and I know that they will continue to provide high quality food and service,” Daleiden said.

Maiden Rock Area Merchants’ Association and Daleiden were unsure of the amount of revenue the Flood Run brings to local businesses.

Solution proposed

The Six String Saloon owner Tracy Young proposed a solution to Flood Run organizers and the village in a Facebook post last week, which has since been removed from the business’ official page.

She offered to reimburse the $500 fee to Polaris and the Flood Run. A boycott would hurt local businesses and is not fair to them, those that work hard year-round, she had said.

When asked for comment, Young wrote in a message: “The businesses and flood run are resolving this issue privately. Everything should be public by Saturday. I have no comment on any of your other questions. Like I said, we are not getting involved in the politics. Blowing this up bigger will benefit no one.”

When asked about Young’s offer, Daleiden had this to say:

“Maiden Rock Village does not allow vendors in the Village Park that compete with local businesses (i.e. food and beverage). We do have a limited number of vendor spaces and require pre-registration; but we welcome all paid vendors on a first come/first serve basis,” she wrote.

Denny seemed pleased with the Six String’s offer. A Facebook post Sept. 11 confirmed that.

“A wonderful person Tracy who owns the Six String Saloon in Maiden Rock wants like we all at the Flood Run want, to get this all settled and over with!” Denny wrote. “She offered to pay the money the town owes ...; so financially we are even with Maiden Rock!”

Denny added that the booth will remain in Pepin.

“We moved the booth to the town of Pepin and we can't back out if that…” Denny said.

The beginning

It all started 10 years ago, according to Denny.

Denny posted on the official Flood Run Facebook page Sept. 5 that he met with Maiden Rock Fire Department chief Jim Lance 10 years ago to work out a deal beneficial to both organizations. The agreement was forged and sealed with a handshake, Denny said.

The fire department sold a pin with the trademarked Flood Run logo on it as a fundraiser for the department. In exchange, the Flood Run had a merchandise booth in the village park, along with a space for the top sponsor, free of charge.

“No money exchanged hands, just a simple trade with the money they raised going to upgrade equipment at their volunteer fire department,” Denny’s post read. “The money we raise going to help the kids at Gillette Children’s Specialty Health Care.”

Maiden Rock Plum City Stockholm (MRPCS) Inc. Ambulance Service director Tim Hanson confirmed this handshake agreement, although it was between the fire department and Flood Run.

The agreement apparently transferred over to the MRPCS when the fire department dissolved in 2010.

Hanson said not being able to sell the pins is a blow to the ambulance company.

“The amount raised would vary on participation, maybe $500,” Hanson said Friday. “But to us that’s a significant amount of money.”

The money has traditionally been used for new equipment and training. Hanson said the board is brainstorming to come up with a replacement fundraiser.

“We’ve had several conversations (with Flood Run),” Hanson said. “About a month ago it was made final. They were pretty upset about it. I see why they’re upset but they can’t expect everyone else to pick up the clean up costs.”

Daleiden said Maiden Rock welcomes bikers any time of the year, “and encourages all to stop by the Six String Saloon and Ole's on Sept. 17 for some good eats, beverages and friendly service. It's also worth a stroll to the other end of Main Street where you will find unique textiles, garden themed items, baked goods and a mix of art and collectables. Best wishes to all for a fun-filled safe ride!”

Sarah Nigbor

Sarah J. Nigbor serves as a regional editor for RiverTown Multimedia, a position she began in April 2017. She joined RiverTown Multimedia in October 2013 as a news reporter for the New Richmond News, before being appointed editor of the Pierce County Herald in February 2015. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Spanish and French in 2001. She completed a minor in journalism in 2004. 

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