Expect carnival games, food trucks, street magicians, a retro shuttle bus and throwback tunes.
Oh, and plenty of fizzy, tangy gulps of soda pop.
A popular Spring Lake Park soda shop is gearing up to hold an inaugural summer event in August, free to the public, dubbed the “Minnesota Soda Festival.”
“We’re trying to make it super cheap so mom and dad can bring the kids,” Mark Lazarchic, who owns the Blue Sun Soda Shop, told Spring Lake Park City Council members at a meeting last month. “You can get 20 samples for five bucks.”
Spring Lake Park officials say the festival could be a big summer boon to the north metro city of 6,500. The City Council has thrown its support behind Lazarchic’s plan and approved a special event permit for it.
“I’m excited about this,” Council Member Bob Nelson said at the meeting. “I like your cream soda.”
“We don’t get too many special event permit applications, especially the size of the event that he’s proposing,” said City Administrator Dan Buchholtz. “I think their soda festival will be a great addition to Spring Lake Park and will bring in a lot of people that otherwise wouldn’t be coming here.”
The festival is planned for Aug. 4, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., and will be held rain or shine at the soda shop, 1625 County Hwy. 10 NE. Admission to the festival will be free, with visitors paying 25 cents a ticket for soda samples.
Lazarchic said he expects thousands of people to attend. Additional parking will be available nearby at the former Pov’s 65 facility just off Hwy. 65. Having ample parking for the surge of visitors has been a key city worry, Buchholtz said at the meeting.
Plans include a 1950s-era bus to shuttle families from the nearby parking lot to the store, where most of the revelry will be set up outside. The bus is very much in keeping with the store’s retro vibe, from its checkered tiles to its whirring pinball games and famed, fizzy inventory in glass bottles.
Tours will be offered of the store’s bottling operation for Whistler soda, a Minnesota soda company owned by Lazarchic. The 1952 vintage bottling machine churns out sodas in reusable bottles that are distributed to sites across the Twin Cities, including brew pubs, restaurants and theaters.
Outside the store, families will be able to sample 150 different sodas at tents run by bottlers and soda brewers from across the country.
“I really like the idea of people being able to meet the guys that run these companies,” Lazarchic said. Such companies often consist of just a few people running a family business that goes back generations, he said.
Blue Sun Soda Shop, which Lazarchic opened in 2015, offers more than 1,300 different sodas and bills itself as the world’s largest soda shop.
“I’m going to keep saying it until somebody proves me wrong,” Lazarchic said. “I’ve searched the entire country, and I can’t find anyone with a bigger selection than us.”