Lyn-Lake Street Festival is a no-go this year

The revived Lyn-Lake Street Festival will not go on this May, ending a four-year run that helped boost the identity of the business node and bring people back to the intersection after three years of road construction.

Top Shelf owner John Meegan brought the festival back in 2009 after a 10-year hiatus, and he has organized the event every year since. Meegan, in an interview today, said he didn’t have the time to coordinate the festival this year, and the event hasn’t been profitable enough to hire a professional organizer.

“It’s about a three-month volunteer effort,” Meegan said. “I’ve been trying to run the thing for four years, and this year just got to be too much and I have demands of my own, running a business.”

The festival has usually generated $20,000 to $25,000 in profits every year, and those profits are donated to the Blaisdell YMCA, the Lyn-Lake Business Association and Joyce Food Shelf. Hiring a professional would have cost $10,000 to $25,000, Meegan said.

“If you add that on top of what you need to raise to cover the bills in case it rains —  that’s the challenge of this, is that there’s a certain amount of fixed cost,” Meegan said.

The festival also ran into another problem. Because Lyndale Avenue is considered a state highway, organizers cannot sell beer on the road. Beer had been sold at the parking lot next to the VFW, but that parking lot is now the site of an apartment development. There aren’t any other large lots available for beer sales on Lyndale.

“You need a pretty big vacant lot that would be available to you to do this,” Meegan said.

Meegan, whose custom suit and shirt business has been in Minneapolis for 37 years, said he hopes to bring the festival back. He said over 40 bands and 30 food trucks contacted him this year.

“I will be interested to see about how people feel about it not happening,” Meegan said.

Last year the festival was held May 20 and hosted nine bands, headlined by Halloween, Alaska. Over 25 businesses sponsored the event.  

Meegan said he’s been happy with the impact of the festival.

“We restarted it because the corner had gone through almost three years of significant disruption from road construction,” Meegan said. “I looked at 30 percent of the businesses going out of business here and I said we have to do something — that we are not rolling over and laying dead on this corner.”