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Former employee says Grand Old Day was 'mismanaged'

Former employee says Grand Old Day was 'mismanaged' Photo: KSTP/File

April 25, 2019 05:08 PM

A former Grand Avenue Business Association employee told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS Wednesday that he resigned as marketing coordinator after witnessing "mismanagement" and "financial questions" leading up to Tuesday's cancelation of this year's Grand Old Day celebration.

James Farnsworth told KSTP he submitted his resignation in March because he knew there was a "good chance" Grand Old Day was not going to happen in 2019.

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RELATED: Grand Old Day anyway? Could some part of canceled celebration be salvaged?

"There was mismanagement and questions about finances," Farnsworth said. "There were specific questions about Grand Old Day finances because it's the biggest event of the year for GABA."

Farnsworth said contracts with vendors and sponsors were not being signed, there was a lack of volunteer coordination and a general lack of leadership and direction at GABA leading up to Tuesday's announcement.

"It was the right thing to do, cancel Grand Old Day, because it would have been worse to take in vendor fees knowing you were not going to do it," he said.

RELATED: St. Paul's Grand Old Day event canceled

Tax records show the Grand Avenue Business Association had a little more than $181,000 in assets in fiscal year 2011.  By the end of fiscal year 2017, that amount had dwindled to about $16,700.

Farnsworth said GABA's treasurer Andy Gesell should have answers as to where the money was spent, and why the group lost more than $165,000 in assets over the past six years.

"I do think Andy Gesell at Bank Cherokee should be able to answer those questions, and that is the question everyone has been asking since Grand Old Day was canceled - 'Where did the money go," Farnsworth said.

Farnsworth said Bank Cherokee, located on Grand Avenue, holds the bank account for GABA.

Farnsworth also said GABA President Jason Koenig resigned in early April, and GABA Executive Director Connie DeLage was fired by the board of directors April 19.

Koenig did not return calls made to him by KSTP, and DeLage said "she did not care to share" the reasons for her dismissal.

Several attempts to reach Gesell were unsuccessful.

GABA said it costs $200,000 to hold Grand Old Day and declined comment on KSTP's story, but did indicate the organization is working toward bringing Grand Old Day back in 2020.

Editor's note: This story has been corrected to reflect the fact that not all of the Grand Avenue Business Association's assets were in cash.

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Jay Kolls

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