Fireworks: A Different Border Battle Between Minnesota And Wisconsin

By KBJR News 1

July 3, 2012 Updated Jul 3, 2012 at 8:50 PM CST

On the eve of America's Birthday, many people are looking to celebrate with a bang.

But for fireworks shops along the Minnesota/Wisconsin border...those in the badger state are no doubt fairing better.

LeAnn Wallace has more on the fireworks border battle.

Each year, thousands of Minnesotans cross state lines to get their hands on fireworks that aren't legal in Minnesota.

"We're trying to get some fireworks that will go off in the air and have some spark," said Corinne Hoeft.

"We just came up here to get something that goes in the air that's a little more exciting for the kids than to just have them on the ground," said Mike Lesker.

Aerial fireworks are illegal in Minnesota. Wisconsin's fireworks laws are much more lax than those in Minnesota, allowing shoppers to purchase much bigger explosives.

"All my best memories of summers revolve around 4th of July fireworks and everything."

Nick Navarro and Jason Deatherage took their love of fireworks and turned it into a business.

They set up shop in Amnicon Wisconsin for the first time this year...and they found out what many other fireworks retailers along the Minnesota/Wisconsin border already know.

"A lot of them come in, they don't quite want to tell us where they're from because they think that, oh they're not supposed to come to Wisconsin or whatever so they come in and they're excited to get the aerials and things like that and so it's fun for them," said Navarro.

KG Fireworks says about 80 percent of their customers are from Minnesota.

Minnesota's legislature passed a bill this session that would allow for higher grade fireworks to be sold in the state; however the bill was eventually vetoed by Governor Mark Dayton.

"I wish they would have passed it because I worked in a tent in Wisconsin last year and it was a lot different."

Kristine Steenberg, who set up shop in St. Paul this year, said business would have gone up 50 percent if the bill would have passed.

Many fireworks shops in Minnesota echo her stance, but even some shops in Wisconsin say they would have liked the law to have passed, too.

"We're all for opening it up and allowing people to have freedom to shoot off fireworks so we were hoping for it to pass," said Deatherage.

"We are advocates for you know, legalizing it, but also making sure that people understand the safe way to do this stuff," said Navarro.

Safety concerns were the primary reason sited by Governor Dayton for vetoing the expanded fireworks bill.

While Wisconsin allows for bigger fireworks, individual cities have their own fireworks ordinances.