Group Plans New Event to Replace Stillwater's 'Lumberjack Days'

Updated: 11/09/2012 9:38 PM KSTP.com By: Leslie Dyste

The organizer of several popular Twin Cities events, including the annual Lumberjack Days festival, has been charged with 10 counts after missing crucial payment deadlines and allegedly issuing bad checks.

Now one group is already working on a new summer event for the Stillwater area.

Bob Hart of "Valley Promotions" says they are hoping to put on a family-friendly weekend in July. It may involved other river cities, like Afton.

Hart tells KSTP-TV they will get an application into the city very soon.

St. Croix Events, run by Dave Eckberg, had a contractual Dec. 31, 2011, deadline to pay thousands of dollars in outstanding bills related to Lumberjack Days and the 2010 and 2011 Stillwater Marathons. Eckberg's company also owed three businesses and a high school hockey booster club approximately $38,000, according to police, after Eckberg's checks to cover those festival-related debts bounced.

The complaint filed in the case alleges that Eckberg failed to make good on checks he wrote for the purchase of beer at the festival, for services rendered by a staging and lighting company, and for labor provided by Stillwater Blue Line Boosters.

Beginning in October 2011, those businesses and the booster club filed complaints with Stillwater Police, which forwarded part of the case to the Washington County Attorney. The companies listed in the criminal complaint are Hohenstein, Inc.; Stillwater Blue Line Boosters; Icabod Productions; and Needham, Inc.

According to Washington County prosecutors, Eckberg deposited and then transferred more than $40,000 from the Lumberjack Festival and St. Croix Events accounts into his and his wife’s personal accounts. The money was enough to cover the outstanding debt, but Eckberg continued to tell the victims there were insufficient funds in the account and to hold the checks, according to prosecutors.

The Stillwater City Council suspended the contract with St. Croix Events at its meeting on Dec. 20, 2011. The contract stipulated an annual Dec. 31 deadline for the payment of all bills.

Eckberg previously acknowledged the debts but argued that poor festival weather and attendance led to the shortage of funds.

The festival has been held in Stillwater for decades, bringing thousands of visitors for a few days each summer.

Eckberg has been charged with five counts of theft by check and five counts of issuing dishonored checks. His first court appearance is scheduled for Jan. 24, 2013.