September 2, 2010 at 8:46 a.m.
Securing the conditional use permit for Hay Days took about a year. The permit was approved by the county board in February 2009 and it's taken another 18 months to improve the 140 acre site, in order to accommodate the thousands of visitors (20,000 on a Saturday was estimated attendance in the permit application) who are expected at Hay Days.
With the event weekend just around the corner, the pace of activity on the property has increased; workers are readying the campgrounds for event staff, they've installed miles of fenceline, cleared the drag race strip of rocks and other hazards. Workers a few days ago were welding an elevated stand at the drag strip, and putting the finishing touches on a demonstration area where professional four-wheelers perform tricks.
There's also a new feature near the front gate there's an ATV testing track for event patrons to take a unit for a test drive.
Sno Barons constructed a red pole building months ago, and deposited several ticket booths in the yard, hauled in from the former Columbus location.
Club members have cleared a shaded picnic area, erected a small playground and were still painting picnic tables and tackling some stubborn poison ivy.
When the Chisago County Press visited Ben Utecht, from the Chisago County Highway department, was inspecting the new field approaches, (for parking) and gave advice on avoiding stormwater backing up out of ditches onto Oriole.
The swap meet and race areas were dry, despite heavy rains in this region recently.
A new gravel road cuts through from the front gate to the back of the property. The Sno Barons club member and Utecht also double-checked locations where the club proposes to place its directional placards.
Keith Hoppe, of the Sheriff's Dept., is coordinating exits and entrances and traffic controls to make sure the vast majority of traffic will use the County Road 15 route to Oriole Ave. Hoppe said at the close of the event, when large vendor trailers are coming off the site, the county is planning to prohibit the slow rigs from turning directly onto Highway 95.
Sheriff's reservists are also being tapped for manpower at the site and along the routes to the site.
Lakes Region EMS will have a dedicated quick response vehicle just in case pre-hospital care is needed on the site. In a memo to the county zoning department Lakes Region EMS Director Aaron Reinert said, "...Lakes Region is confident that we, along with the Almelund Fire Department, will be able to provide emergency medical care for the large gathering."
Almelund fire is putting a pumper and grass rig at the site during the show. Nearby fire departments have been made aware of the weekend show and are ready to provide mutual aid.
The Conditional Use Permit granted to this event by the county also requires "...during the first year of operation a noise monitoring consultant chosen by Chisago County must attend to ensure compliance with MPCA noise rules.
Monitoring is being done on "practice day" Sept. 10 and during Hay Days. Any event that exceeds MPCA noise rules "will be addressed immediately," according to Mary Schmitz, Environmental Services and Zoning Director.
A report on noise levels...must be submitted to county environmental services.
This monitoring job went to the consulting firm SBP Associates, based in St. Louis Park, MN. The contract is $3,500, to be paid by Sno Barons.
The Sno Barons club is basically centered in Anoka County but has members from all over the metro.
The Hay Days grass drag strip event was first run (using hay on a track, hence "Hay Days") in 1967 at the property where the Majestic Oaks Golf Club now sits. Sunrise Township is about the fifth location of Hay Days over the years.
Gates open at 7 a.m. and close at 5 p.m. Racing starts at 9 a.m.
Tickets at the gate are $25 for both days or one-day is $15. Ages 12 and younger are admitted at no charge.