State Fair lawn parking: How much do fairground neighbors make?

FullParking.jpg
One resident near the fairgrounds filled her yard with cars by Monday afternoon.
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Everyone who drives to the Great Minnesota Get-Together sees them: The State Fair's neighbors who, for 12 days in August, put their lives on hold to hawk parking on their lawns.

While vendors inside advertise corn dogs and go-kart rides, the blocks east of the fairgrounds sprout a micro-economy lucrative enough to entice many residents to take a week of vacation and parcel up their yards. Spots go for between $5 and $20, depending on distance to the gates and the day. Neighbors able to cram 20 or 25 cars on their property can make thousands.

"At $200 a day, that's enough to make staying home from work look pretty good," says Bryan, who was working a few spots near the intersection of Arona and Fair on Monday. "You need to fit about 11 cars to break even, parking cars versus going to work."

Bryan's been living in the neighborhood for 14 years, and turning his lawn into a lot during the state fair for all of them. But though he and many of his neighbors talk openly with drivers who circle the block, ask them about the business and most of these part-time parkers get quiet.

One woman, around the corner from Bryan, says that the community is wary of the state Department of Revenue. "We don't collect sales tax, and the state is fired up about that," she says, declining to give her name. She's lived in her house for 13 years, parked cars for 12 of them, and received, she says, two letters from the state warning her about her taxes. "There were even rumors that there were helicopters flying around, taking pictures of people's lawns."

Other neighbors shrug off the tax concerns, but no one wants photos taken of their lots, and no one's collecting sales tax. 

Janelle Tummel, a spokesperson for the Minnesota Department of Revenue, says she doesn't know of specific efforts targeted at the area around the state fair.

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23 comments
Shawn Taylor
Shawn Taylor

Yes I do wonder, and after reading the story still wonder..

Johnny M Gayzmonic
Johnny M Gayzmonic

I used to live very near the fairgrounds and yes, the State Fair made it nearly impossible to do something simple like go to the grocery store.

Johnny M Gayzmonic
Johnny M Gayzmonic

I used to live very near the fairgrounds and yes, the State Fair made it nearly impossible to do something simple like go to the grocery store.

jeepgirl77
jeepgirl77

@jonmarcbauer Tulsa passed a bill stating homeowners can't charge people to park in their lawns/driveways. Sucks, bc people made good $.

Jean Claude Cau
Jean Claude Cau

I think it would suck for that neighborhood for two weeks a year, kinda like the nightmare that is the Art Fair in Uptown.

Alex Anderson
Alex Anderson

Best payment would be an hourly rate - no different than any ramp downtown.

Alex Anderson
Alex Anderson

Best payment would be an hourly rate - no different than any ramp downtown.

evikjames
evikjames

I paid $20 for parking on Monday morning and got a great spot. These people provide a wonderful service and should get to keep every penny they make, as it's not real income. The great parking made the fair a lot more fun.

Lindsey Richardson
Lindsey Richardson

I work in a house right by there... it depends on how many cars.. they were charging 5-10 per car..

Lindsey Richardson
Lindsey Richardson

I work in a house right by there... it depends on how many cars.. they were charging 5-10 per car..

Lindsey Richardson
Lindsey Richardson

I work in a house right by there... it depends on how many cars.. they were charging 5-10 per car..

jonmbauer
jonmbauer

@jeepgirl77 Yeah, it certainly sounds like it. Was Tulsa afraid things would get too rednecky?

jeepgirl77
jeepgirl77

@jonmarcbauer I don't know the reasoning behind it. I wasn't living back in Oklahoma at the time. All I know is people are annoyed.

evikjames
evikjames

 @ludwitr The money they receive is real, but the limited service they provide isn't predictable, scalable, or worth anything to anyone else. And, enforcement isn't a reasonable option. The same is true of a lemonade stand. This isn't a real business, but it's a seed for a real business. 

jonmbauer
jonmbauer

@jeepgirl77 If i lived across from the state fair here, I'd rent out my house for the period and go on vacation.

jonmbauer
jonmbauer

@jeepgirl77 I blame it on the Flaming Lips

ludwitr
ludwitr

 @evikjames  @ludwitr Where is the line in which that changes?  These people say they make an extra $300 a day for what, two weeks?  that sounds just as predictable to me as a sales job that pays commission.

 

What do you mean it's not worth anything to anyone else?  How many people allow parking within three blocks of the fair?  how many parking spots is that?  Supply and demand would dictate that ramps could charge more for their services given a different supply curve, and services such as the park and ride would be better served, and potentially make money if these additional spots were not used.

 

Enforcement would be a field day.  Send one cop around on a segway ticketing anything in a lawn, holy revenue.

 

Some people said it themselves.  It's more worthwhile for them to stay home from work and park cars than it is for them to actually go to work.

 

That said, I think you should be able to make x number of dollars "under the table" so to speak each year and have it untaxed if you are not a business and if you are only doing it for so long in a given year.  But unfortunately, that's not the law.

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