Lilydaze brings food, fun and education

Lilydale's Lilydaze Festival went on Sept. 15, 2013 and had local businesses, such as The Perfect Ash and others on hand during the event. This year's will be Sept. 20 with the usual "food, fun and friendship," as well as an educational video on a bluff restoration project.

Attend 4th annual festival, learn about bluff restoration

After record-setting rain doused the city in the 1960s for the umpteenth time, Lilydale uprooted itself from the floodplain and latched on to the bluffs above, making the tree-covered cliffs and riverfront vista integral to the city's identity. 

But, according to Lilydale Mayor Anita Pampusch, the fewer than 700 citizens have had a hard time clinging to the city's character, let alone knowing they live in Lilydale.

"People would say they were from St. Paul," Pampusch said. "It seemed like we needed to have some kind of an identity and something they would be proud of. We wanted people to say, 'I'm from Lilydale.'"

That disconnect between the city and its residents, who could become isolated in the sub-communities of apartments, townhomes and condos, helped prompt the mayor to pursue a Lilydale-wide celebration. Her brainstorming led to Lilydaze in 2011.

Since then, the festival has been about knitting together the people of the tiny town. For its fourth year, Lilydaze will take place from noon to 3 p.m. Sept. 20 at Lilydale City Hall and will include the premiere of an educational video about restoring what literally bolsters the 0.87 square-mile municipality: the bluffs.

Beautifying the bluffs

The Dakota County Big River Trail directs bikers, walkers and explorers to the views of the Lilydale bluff, a feature that's also visible from St. Paul's Crosby Park across the Mississippi and on the 35E and Mendota bridges. 

Saying the bluffs are a key factor in why people live, visit or do business in Lilydale, the city set out to preserve the feature. Also, residents have asked for help from the city in addressing bluff issues below their homes. 

Great River Greening studied the bluffs and found its vegetation was degraded, compromising the bluff's appearance and its ability to resist erosion. The group recommended the city organize a concerted effort to address the deteriorated plant life, rather than having the housing associations deal with it separately.

"The housing associations occupy one part of the top of the bluff," Pampusch said. "If we were going to do anything with the bluff, we had to do it with everybody."

The city received a $5,000 grant from the Katherine B. Anderson Fund of the St. Paul Foundation in April, according to city clerk/administrator Mary Schultz. The city's now working on matching those funds with a $25,000 to $30,000 contribution, hoping to implement the plan in early 2016, according to city documents. 

According to Schultz, a video on the bluff project produced by Town Square Television will be screened at Lilydaze, to help keep people up to date and solicit volunteers and donations.

City celebration

Lilydaze will include its usual themes — food, fun and friendship — while bringing in new educational elements, such as the bluff video and a county exhibit on composting.  

The Barbary Coast Dixieland Showband counts Lilydale in its storied history; members used to perform at the Golden Garter, a St. Paul restaurant that overlooked the Mississippi River, until the flood in 1965 that also knocked out Lilydale. The band will perform from 12:30 p.m. to 2 p.m. Schultz said the city's excited about having the Minnesota Hall of Fame group join the event.

Joyride, a nine-piece Michigan band that plays tunes from Motown to Top-40 hits, will play from 2-3 p.m.

Feels like home

Along with food trucks, several businesses will set up booths at the festival. 

Sunfish Cellars will be selling wine by the glass, to-go cheese and meat plates, and sandwiches with cured ham from Red Table Meat Company in Minneapolis, according to wine bar manager Stephanie Zoucha. The 4-year-old store will also offer a drawing for a chance to take part in its wine-tasting classes.

Zoucha said the festival is a way to bring together the people that live and work in Lilydale, as well as support local businesses. 

Lilydale reminds Zoucha of the small Nebraska city she was raised in, Grand Island. She moved to the Twin Cities a decade ago.

"Being in Lilydale feels like being back home," she said.

Kaitlyn Roby can be reached at 651-748-7815 and Follow her at

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