20th Annual Rumble on the Deck is July 9 at the Freight House in Stillwater

The 20th annual Ma Rad’s Rumble on the Deck is set for Thursday, July 9 at the Freight House in downtown Stillwater.

Despite a recommendation from Stillwater Police Chief John Gannaway to deny the event based on the impact a large number of loud motorcycles flocking to the event has on the community, the City Council with a 4-0 vote (Tom Weidner was absent) approved the permit for the 20th annual Rumble on the Deck.

The Freight House will provide security for the event, as well as pay for 6 Stillwater police officers and a parking enforcement officer to work the event.

Rumble on the Deck runs from 6-10 p.m., on Thursday, July 9.

“I recommend a denial of this event,” Gannaway said. “It’s nothing against the Freight House, they do the best they can — the event within their property is very well run and managed.”

But the event has exploded in the past couple of years, Gannaway said. Last year, police had six officers, and a safe and sober detail of six additional officers working the event, “and it wasn’t enough.”

“There’s just too many motorcycles. It’s a big impact on the community,” Gannaway said. “During the entire event it is just one long stream of very loud motorcycles. I was down there the whole time last year — and I was floored.”

Freight House Operations Manager Brian Ingram said he will do everything in his power to address the motorcycle noise, parking issues and speeding.

“We put out everything we can in our promotions that this event is not a free for all,” Ingram said. “We tell people to honor parking rules and that noise ordinances need to be followed, but at the end of the day it is on the consumer to conduct themselves within the realm of the law.”

Council Member Mike Polehna said he heard there were problems with the event two years ago, but was under the impression that last year was an improvement.

Last year, police dealt with a lot of parking issues and a substantial amount of noise ordinance tickets were issued, Gannaway said. It’s the sheer volume of motorcycles the event draws that is the problem.

“There are motorcycles all over,” Ward 1 Council Member Doug Menikheim said. “I am very impressed by the general courtesy that I’ve observed from motorcyclists in our city. I’ve been to Sturgis and seen how that goes, and this isn’t a Sturgis. There’s a lot of motorcycles in the city, but the majority of them seem to be paying attention. I also saw the police being visible, active and going after the people making the noise.

“Once again the city wants it to be known, if noisy motorcycles come through town, they will be ticketed and dealt with,” Menikheim said. “Let people know, they are welcomed to our city, but the rules will be observed, and if they’re not, they will put themselves in the position to ruin their evening.”

The Freight House openly communicates the hope that patrons will be mindful of community members on their way out of town, Ingram said. The patrons are repeatedly told, if you do hit the throttle on the way out of town, you will get a ticket for it.

“And it should be known, if they like this event, and disregard our rules, this event may not happen again,” Stillwater Mayor Ted Kozlowski said.

“The noise is the only thing that scares me about this whole deal,” Council Member Mike Polehna said. “I like that this event brings people into town. But the noise. We don’t need the noise… People need to respect our town. They need to respect our citizens.”

The Freight House seems to be doing a good job managing the event, Kozlowski said before voting in favor of the event permit. It’s not turning into a mess at the Freight House during the event, but it is clear there is work to do on the city’s end regarding enforcement of the noise ordinance.

“The enforcement is what we are constantly hearing about,” Kozlowski said. “It’s not this specific event that is the problem. It’s the day-to-day noise enforcement issues we hear about from our residents. That’s on the city to work on, not the Freight House.”

Gannaway said he will try to organize another safe and sober campaign of officers to help out during the event again.

“You’re being put on notice,” Menikheim said. “This is the 20th event, and it’s drawing a larger and larger crowd — and there’s a very real possibility there won’t be event No. 21. I think you hear where we’re coming from. Pay attention. I’d like to see it keep going, but you’re on the edge right now. Be careful — and get the word out to the motorcycle community.”

“We’re not motorcycle-unfriendly,” Polehna added. “We’re noise-unfriendly. I don’t want to get the Minnesota Motorcycle Club sending us notes that they hate Stillwater. Again, we’re not motorcycle-unfriendly, we’re noise-unfriendly.”

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