June 18--Substantial debt to blame
This year's cancellation of Ottertail's Smokin' Iron Truck and Tractor Pull is not a one-time decision, according to Ottertail Business Association President Ron Grobeck.
"Smokin' Iron is basically not going to happen here anytime soon," Grobeck said.
Grobeck and his fellow Business Association members made that decision upon finding out about a $98,000 loan that First National Bank had given to the event organizers in 2004 and which was signed off on by the leaders of the Business Association at that time.
A $10,000 payment on the loan was due last August and Smokin' Iron had lost money the past few years, according to Grobeck. As a sponsor of the event, the Business Association was going to be responsible for paying the loan if the event was to continue.
Instead, Smokin' Iron has been canceled. Grobeck said the event organizers had stepped away in the past year, leaving it with no direction and still $48,000 in debt. The decision to cancel was not a pleasant one, but one Grobeck felt it had to be made.
The Smokin' Iron Truck and Tractor Pull was first held in 2003 and ran each June through 2013. It was a two-day event that attracted pullers from all over the country.
But Grobeck has not heard many complaints about the cancellation around town since the announcement earlier this year.
"I think it's an event that, locally, didn't attract as many people as we got from surrounding communities," Grobeck said.
The debt simply got to be too much for the Business Association to continue to support the event. Other events have popped up in its place this year, including the OtterJam concert earlier this month and a mud run scheduled for June 21.
The Business Association and First National Bank are in discussions about settling the debt, according to Grobeck. Those discussions have been going well and continue to move forward, he said.
While canceling events is never a pleasure, Grobeck said the Business Association would rather spend its money on student scholarships and investing back into events such as Otter Fest rather than supporting a financially unstable event like Smokin' Iron.
"It was probably sold as a time that could benefit the community and bring in a lot of revenue," Grobeck said. "We decided for all practical purposes it was not going to continue."
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