Grassroots effort may save St. Paul's 'Grand Old Day' after all

Organizers think they may have a plan to save Grand Old Day after canceling the festivities last week.

There is a chance the event could be moving forward full scale June 2.

The Grand Avenue Business Association will meet with fellow business owners Thursday night to talk about what can be done to save the festival as a grassroots effort fuels the discussions.

It’s an annual tradition that marks the unofficial start to summer in St. Paul.

“A place where you can reconvene with family friends you haven’t seen for a long time,” said Andy Rodriguez, a St. Paul resident.

Grand Old Day has been that way for 45 years. Then, just over a week ago, it was canceled without warning.

“I think a lot of people thought it wasn’t real, kind of a sense of shock,” Rodriguez added.

Longtime friends Andy Rodriguez and Ashley Lemay both grew up in St. Paul. Lemay’s family owns Tavern on Grand and they wanted to do something.

So, they started a Facebook group called, “Grand Old Day Anyway” to bring people to Grand Avenue June 2.

“If nothing else, we want to promote all the small businesses,” said LeMay.

This week, they launched a GoFundMe page when they were told the Grand Avenue Business Association lacked the funds to put on the festival this year.

“With the big rallying cry from the community and local businesses we kind of explored a conversation with GABA,” said LeMay. “Is it still possible to put on a full-scale event and, with that, comes a fee for security, trash, etc. So, we’re trying to raise money to do that.”

Local business owner Aimee Hanson has been inspired by all the support.

“It’s something that’s so grassroots and I think there’s something attractive about that because I think that the community feels involved and they’ll fell involved in the even when it happens.”

Whether that even is full scale or a scaled-down version, it seems Grand Old Day will return in some way in 2019.

$100,000 needs to be raised by May 5 in order to make the event work. That’s the date all those involved need to the OK to move forward with planning the event.