Stillwater's ill-fated Lumberjack Days could return next summer

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Officials in Stillwater are working to revive the city's now defunct Lumberjack Days festival along the St. Croix River, KSTP reports.

The popular four-day summer event toppled after a financial scandal involving festival organizer Dave Eckberg.

He was charged last fall with multiple counts of felony theft and fraud charges. Last June, Eckberg and his wife also filed for personal bankruptcy.

Mayor Ken Harycki told KSTP the city hopes to hire an event coordinator and then seek bids from private event promoters to take on the risk and run the event.

Stillwater businesses are eager to see the festival return, which attracted as many as 30,000 people and helped boost local sales.

The city axed Lumberjack Days last summer citing unpaid bills, pending litigation and public disapproval.

However, a recent survey of Stillwater residents showed 66 percent are in favor of a community event to replace Lumberjack Days, the Pioneer Press reported.

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Washington County Attorney Pete Orput told the Pioneer Press his office is still reviewing evidence in the case involving former Stillwater Lumberjack Days organizer Dave Eckberg. The newspaper writes it could take another month before a charging decision is made. Last month, Eckberg and his wife filed for personal bankruptcy. Court documents show the couple owes a list of more than 100 creditors nearly $2.4 million.

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After months of investigation, David Eckberg, 61, was charged with 10 felony counts -- five of theft by check and five of issuance of a dishonored check -- in Washington County District Court on Thursday, the Star Tribune reports. Eckberg, the former organizer of Stillwater's now defunct Lumberjack Days festival, is accused taking $41,000 from the festival and writing nearly $55,000 in bad checks.

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According to documents filed in U.S. Bankruptcy court, Dave Eckberg and his wife, Stacy Einck, owe a list of more than 100 creditors nearly $2.4 million. Eckberg had coordinated the summer festival along the St. Croix River in Stillwater since 1994 and could also face criminal charges.

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City Administrator Larry Hansen was the first to propose ending the summer festival because of the financial and legal problems now associated with it. Hansen told the Star Tribune he would be surprised if the City Council didn't cancel the contract. Members are expected to discuss it Tuesday.