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

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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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