From: Fred Benning
Did you know Winona Steamboat Days has been losing money every year for over three years now? Why? Lack of button sales and support from Winona businesses, industry and chain stores. People complain about the ten dollar button price during the festival, but did you know you can buy the button in advance of the festival for only five dollars! What does the button get you? Number one, it supports the festival. It gets you 4-5 nights of admission to the beverage garden for 4-5 nights of music, no additional cover charge. Other festivals - Houston, Rushford, LaCrosse, Rochester, etc., charge $10-$15 cover for just one night to hear one band. Also the Winona Elks and American Legion charged $10-$15 for one night for the same band you could have seen at a past Steamboat Days for the cost of a $5-$10 button, plus have been eligible for the prize drawings. You have a chance to win by purchasing a button, plus entrance to the four nights of additional entertainment in the beverage tent. But what if you donít like to go to the beverage tent? Glad you asked that. You must go to the parade on Sunday, 20,000 people do. It was voted best summer parade in the Upper Midwest by the St. Paul Pioneer Press a few years back. Did you know it costs over $25,000 to put on a Steamboat Days parade? That is more money than all the area celebrations combined spend on their parades, including Rochester, Minneapolis Aquatennial, St. Paul Winter Carnival and Oktoberfest. Should we cut our parade? We could, but we would then have a parade just like any other smaller town celebration - a good parade, but lacking entertainment like the South Shore Drill Team ($6,000), high school band competition ($10,000) the fly-over ($1600), and many, many more which you have grown to expect and enjoy at the Winona Steamboat Days Grande Parade. What other city has their boulevards filled with chairs and blankets from people staking out their spots three days before the parade?
Another big event which is helped by your button purchase is the car show on Saturday. It has grown from 50 cars to close to 400, and this year Iím told will feature a classic car auction also on Saturday.
Other events the button supports are: fireworks $10,000, boat races $4,000, entertainment in beverage tent $10,000 cannonball guy and Victoria circus $6,000 each.
And donít forget all the kids events. The button helps sponsor the power pedal tractor pull, kids fishing contest, Captain and Mate, teen dance, and Kiddie Parade.
Sure they have some great sponsors and support for most of these events, but it is the same great sponsors every year, and it is not enough. They need more help with more businesses stepping forward, or Winonaís Steamboat Days will go the way of Stillwaterís Lumberjack Days and several other midwest festivals.
They need the people of Winona to support the largest attended festival and event in the Winona area and at least buy a button.