• Historic Stillwater Prepares for a Grand Celebration

  • Dine Here Dance Here Event Marks Grand Opening of Chestnut Street Plaza

    Stillwater, MN— Representatives from the City of Stillwater and the Greater Stillwater Chamber of Commerce Foundation today announced they will host a day-long community event to celebrate the grand opening of the Chestnut Street Plaza. Activities from noon to 11:00 p.m. on Saturday, May 18th will feature live music and a plated community meal served on the Stillwater Lift Bridge.

    “We mean for this to be a capstone event, celebrating the transformation of Chestnut Street in front of the Stillwater Lift Bridge into a pedestrian mall for our community and our visitors,” said Robin Anthony Evenson, President of the Greater Stillwater Chamber of Commerce and its Foundation.  

    Event organizers say they are inspired by a photograph of the 1901 Main Street, Stillwater Street Fair. In the photo, a street-wide banner promoting the event included the words, ‘Dance Here.’ To facilitate plaza construction in July 2023, four blocks of Main Street were closed to vehicle traffic. Civic boosters used the opportunity to host an all-day street dance and 1900s costume contest. This year boosters plan to recreate the event on the new plaza.

    “Everyone had a fantastic time last year,” said Cory Buettner, owner of Leo’s Grill and Malt Shop. “We thought it would just be a one-time thing, but it went so well, and we had so much fun that we knew we had to do it again.”

    In addition to live music, civic boosters are planning to serve a plated Italian dinner on the Stillwater Lift Bridge. “For most of our lifetimes, the lift bridge and downtown streets were choked with car traffic,” said Mike Polehna, Stillwater City Councilmember. “The idea that we can just hang out with neighbors on the bridge, enjoy a meal and enjoy the river on a summer evening – I can’t think of a better way to open the new pedestrian mall.”

    Civic boosters plan for two seatings for dinner, at 4:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. on May 18th. A limited number of tickets will be available starting Monday, April 15, at 9:00 a.m. Visit the Greater Stillwater Chamber of Commerce website at greaterstillwaterchamber.com/dance-here for ticket  details. Proceeds from ticket sales will benefit Stillwater area charitable organizations.

    Music on the plaza will begin at noon and will feature live music and DJ sets until 11:00 p.m. Organizers plan for an 1800’s era hat and costume contest during the day.

    The 1931 Stillwater Lift Bridge was built to accommodate about 5,000 cars per day, but by the 2010 era was transporting about 14,000 vehicles daily. After the opening of the St. Croix Crossing bridge in August 2017, the Minnesota and Wisconsin Departments of Transportation refurbished the lift bridge and built a pedestrian trail in Minnesota and Wisconsin in 2020, linking both bridges. Known locally as the “Lift and Loop,” over 200,000 visitors use the walking and biking trail each year. 

    Chestnut Street between Main Street and the lift bridge was closed in 2017, creating an opportunity for the City of Stillwater to design and build the pedestrian plaza. Plaza construction was completed in late 2023.
    For more information about the event, visit greaterstillwaterchamber.com/dance-here


    Attached Photos:
    Stillwater Street Fair, 1901
    Stillwater ‘Dance Here’ event, 2023

    About Stillwater Chamber Foundation:

    The Foundation serves with a focus on education initiatives, workforce development, leadership programs, business development, and community events which will enrich the life of our communities.


    About City of Stillwater, MN:

    The City of Stillwater, MN, is renowned for its historic charm, scenic beauty, and vibrant community spirit. As a hub of cultural and recreational activities, Stillwater offers residents and visitors alike a wealth of experiences to cherish and enjoy.


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