A project to mine silica sand on the site of the Minnesota Renaissance Festival could ultimately displace the popular festival -- but not anytime soon.
Jim Peterson, who heads the company that runs the annual festival, said he's not actively scouting alternative sites.
"At some point in the distant future we will need to relocate and hope to remain in Scott County," Peterson said in response to an e-mail inquiry. The current festival site is about 150 acres, a good footprint for the event, he said.
County and Shakopee officials said they're still waiting to hear details of the proposed project to mine the 954-acre parcel in western Scott County that includes the festival grounds. "We've been put on hold," said Kate Sedlacek of the county's environmental health department. The developers are in the midst of getting the project approved.
The mining would be overseen by Hunt Global Resources Inc., a Texas-based exploration company whose business includes "frac-sand" mining. Sand is required for "hydro-fracking," a growing mining practice that extracts oil and gas from shale.
The proposed site is owned by three Shakopee businesses: Malkerson Sales Inc., Bryan Rock Properties Inc. and Peterson's company, Mid-America Festivals Corp. Sedlacek said that about six weeks ago the partners told the county they needed more time to work out details of the multiphase project.
"We had had some preliminary meetings and were looking at concerns over things like traffic, noise, air quality," she said. "Then things were put on hold."
Sedlacek said the issues appear to center on which parts of the site would be mined first and which later, a process that would determine the future of the festival site.
Sedlacek said there might also be questions over how to work around the festival grounds or whether the festival could be shifted to a different part of the project site and later shifted back.
Much of the land near the festival grounds has been mined for aggregate for years, but that work doesn't pose an immediate threat to the festival, either.
Peterson said the festival should be on a wooded area with a mature canopy of trees and have good access to highways, internal roads and parking.
"The property owners are working together to determine an applicable and desirable mining format with a goal of maintaining the Minnesota Renaissance Festival on its current location for the foreseeable future," Peterson said.
The festival has been around since 1971, when it was started on a 22-acre field in Chaska. It moved to Shakopee three years later.
This year's festival opens next weekend and runs on weekends through Sept. 30, plus Labor Day and Sept. 28. Peterson said the event is profitable and in recent years has drawn about 300,000 attendees.
Mid-America generates additional revenue by renting out some buildings and parts of the grounds for weddings and other special events, mostly during the spring and summer before the festival.
The proposed project is one of two sand mining developments in play in Scott County. The other one, which is smaller, would be operating at the site of silica mining that used to take place for other uses, between Shakopee and Jordan.
Susan Feyder 952-746-3282