Berry Law Offices played a critical role in creating the Princeton Block Party 10 years ago.
Construction work on the Rum River bridges and the first Highway 95 roundabout was generating frustration within the business community at the time.
“It was a big mess north of town to the point that there was about a 20-minute detour that we had to take in order to get into town,” recalled law firm principal Scott Berry.
He added: “It was a pretty substantial detour. No one was really doing anything for the community. There were a couple of us sitting around talking. We thought we should do something.”
Joel Stottrup with the Princeton Union-Eagle published an newspaper article about the block party despite repeated pleas by organizers of the fledgling event to hold off on advance publicity, Berry explained.
“Joel called me up, and I asked him not to print anything,” he said. “We weren’t sure the event was going to happen, but the next thing I knew, it was in the paper. “Ten years later, we still have our block party.”
Berry agreed the genesis of the Princeton Block Party involved a rare case of non-restraint by the media. Stottrup’s persistence in promoting the initial event ended up helping more than hurting, he said.
“It’s been the last Friday in July for quite some time, and we try to make sure the scheduling of this event isn’t too disruptive on people’s summer schedules.” Berry said. “I love this event. It’s a fun time.”
The 2019 version of the Princeton Block Party returns from 4 to 9 p.m. on Friday, July 26.
“Not including the events, we have about 30 booths signed up right now,” Berry said.
Rum River Drive will be closed from approximately noon to 10 p.m. that day.
Fourth Avenue N. to Second Street N. will also be closed for the Princeton Block Party.
“This year, we are going to do soapbox car races as a new event,” Berry said. Entrants will create their own car with at least three wheels.
“Someone can push you to get you going, but then, gravity takes care of things the rest of the way,” he said.
The soapbox course will start next to the Princeton Pizza Pub on N. Second Street and continue down around the curve near Rum River Auto towards the Princeton Library, Berry explained.
There will be a children’s age level completion for the soapbox car race and an adult competition, Berry said. Participants must bring their own helmets and other safety gear to participate.
Additional rules and regulations for the soapbox car race can be found on the Princeton Block Party Facebook page.
“I’d really like to see the soapbox races take off this year, and see what people are working on,” Berry said.
The Princeton Block Party car show has grown over the past several years, Berry added.
“What’s fun about the car show is that it’s been growing by leaps and bounds every year,” he said. “Last year, we actually had to turn people away. That’s why we asked the city for more room this year. We had 72 cars last year.”
The popular Mini Golf Hole Contest is back this year. “We will have a trophy for whoever designs the best hole,” Berry said. “The kids just love this event,” he said. “They play each hole, and it’s a ton of fun.”
In order to participate in the Mini Golf Hole Contest at the Princeton Block Party, a booth or business entity must build and design their own custom mini golf hole.
The par for each hole will be included on an official score card. Princeton Block Party organizers suggest checking out the event’s Facebook page for ideas and inspiration.
“This event is an excellent opportunity for downtown businesses to attract block party participants to their stores,” Berry added.
The Princeton Block Party State Sanctioned Pedal Tractor Pull is a free event for children ages 4 to 11.
Children must be in attendance at the event when their age group is called to participate. Registration will start at 4:30 p.m. the day of the event.
This year’s block party will also feature a flyover of a World War II vintage North American Aviation T-6 Texan trainer piloted by Chuck Datko.
Copper Creek and a 1980’s band will provide musical entertainment at this year’s Princeton Block Party, Berry said.
Food and concessions will include Firehouse Barbecue, Kettle Corn, a lemonade stand, mini-donuts, and food from Pizza Barn.
“We are going to have a free movie at dusk this year,” Berry added. “That’s going to be a lot of fun.”
The selected movie is the original 1984 Ghostbusters, which will be shown on a 25-foot screen in the mall parking lot near Pizza Barn.
This movie is rated PG and running time is a little over 80 minutes. The local Boy Scout Troup will be selling popcorn and Princeton Block Party organizers are encouraging moviegoers to support the group.
Block party organizers have also set up a Fornite Tournament.
Fornite is a popular online shooter and building game in which players are tasked with saving the world after 98% of the population is wiped out by a mysterious force.
The game is designed for co-operative play.
The game is free to download on PC, Xbox, and PlayStation. Its bright graphics make it visually appealing to all, but especially elementary school kids, rather than the grim and apocalyptic colors of other games.
“This event is being sponsored by Nexus Internet Solutions,” Berry said. “Worldwide, there are more than 15 million people who play this game.”
Large video screens will be set up so block party attendees can watch the Fornite Tournament, Berry added.
Ashley Hughes with Go Savvy Social has been helping out with planning for year’s block party, Berry said.
Hughes has been doing city event planning since 2013.
Earlier this summer, Hughes was involved with the Princeton Rum River Festival and non-parade event planning for Milaca’s Gateway to the Northland Festival. Both events occurred in June.
Hughes will be working locally with the Princeton Chili Festival and Daytime Trick-or-Treating in September and October.
The official Princeton Block Party map should be available later this week, Berry added.
For informational information and updates about specific events, visit www.princetonblockparty.com. The Princeton Block Party can also be found on Facebook.