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Crazy Days moves to Aug. 3

 Red Wing Downtown Main Street has been hosting Crazy Days - where downtown merchants hold special sales and display merchandise on the sidewalks - for years. Previously, the event brought huge crowds, clowns, balloons and even closed off streets.

"People would come out at 6:30, 7 a.m. and downtown would just be packed," said DTMS event coordinator Tracy Hardyman. "It was a fun event."

But in the last five years, Crazy Days has been, well, a little less crazy.

"Crazy Days has fizzled out. It just hasn't been what it had been in the past," Hardyman said, adding that the decline could be due to a number of reasons, including multiple empty downtown storefronts.

"In my opinion, Crazy Days itself is a dying event. It's nothing like it was years ago," echoed Shannan Harris, owner of downtown store Moments on Main.

That's why, Harris said, a group of downtown business owners suggested moving the Crazy Days event from the last weekend in July - its traditional time slot - to the first weekend in August to coincide with River City Days.

"We just thought to some degree there's a crowd already, it seemed like it was worth a try to monopolize the crowd," Harris said.

When the merchants proposed the idea to DTMS, it didn't take much convincing.

"Really, we've got an audience already," Hardyman said. "It only makes sense to draw them into downtown with (sales)."

The event will now take place Saturday Aug. 3, the first full day of River City Days. Hardyman said that participating businesses will be marked with a balloon outside their doors. Aside from that, she said, it's kind of up to the store owners to do their own thing.

"We encourage to put a table out front, write on the sidewalk, put extra signage out," Hardyman said.

Businesses are also encouraged to offer discounted merchandise, wear silly clothes and offer games like spin a wheel or pick a duck to determine sale prices.

"It's kind of up to the merchants to do something to promote their own business that day," she said.

Hardyman said that there will be more than 30 participating businesses in downtown and along Old West Main Street.

Debbie Fanslow, owner of Twice Blessed, said she will have a few tables and clothing racks outside for the event. She added that her Crazy Days crowds have been cut by at least a third in the last five years. Moving the event, she said, might breathe new life into Crazy Days.

"I think it could be a benefit," Fanslow said.

But not all downtown business owners agree that moving the event is the right thing to do. Kiki Gheen, owner of Simple Abundance, Inc., said Crazy Days might be beneficial in getting people downtown and shopping in the early morning before River City Days events get underway.

"It has been getting slower, so I think this is a good thing to try," she said.

Still, Gheen said she isn't sure that the event won't be overlooked with all the other things going on that weekend.

"I'm wondering whether it would be better to spread things out a little bit," she said.

The event organizers, however, are hopeful that Crazy Days' new timeslot will help revive the event.

"I think it will be a good thing for the businesses to have this promotion on this weekend," Hardyman said.

"We're optimistic that it will be a good change," Harris added.

Sarah Gorvin
Sarah Gorvin has been with the Republican Eagle for two years and covers education, business and crime and courts. She graduated from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities in 2010 with a  journalism degree.