aimee suzanne kruse-ross | dtgb | june 2017
In a town enriched with local history, team spirit, a burgeoning arts scene and growing walkability, Green Bay is on the cusp of a great renaissance. With a bevy of new shops, eateries and swank living quarters, Green Bay continues to thrive and flourish, much to the delight of its residents as well as newcomers looking to make Titletown their home.
At the heart of this effort is a summer season packed with events geared to draw the masses into the city's center. Throughout the summer, Downtown Green Bay, Inc. offers more than 170 events — many of them at little or no cost — designed to please people of all ages and showcase a downtown on the rise.
Assembling this list is no easy task but DTGB's Program Manager, Pam Parish and Event Coordinator, Sara Hujar were both eager to share this summer's extensive lineup and talk downtown development with Frankly Green Bay.
Whitney Park Evolves
From the time that Curly Lambeau first threw footballs under its now massive oak and maple trees, Whitney Park has had a long tenure and is Green Bay's oldest park, even cited as being the original home of the farmers markets in 1917. Bringing the park in line with more modern times, Whitney Park has received a new outdoor stage from the Leadership Green Bay Class of 2016 that will be put to good use this summer, kicking off on June 2 with a night of family-friendly comedy courtesy of De Pere's ComedyCity improv team. ComedyCity will perform two hour-long shows that evening. The first show begins at 6 p.m. and a second show begins at 7:30 p.m.
DTGB is excited to be hosting a family-friendly movie in the park night featuring the new Disney film “Moana." The event is scheduled for August 10 and begins at 7 p.m. Attendees can feed the family while they're at it as the food trucks will be on hand to serve food to moviegoers.
Plans are also in the works to designate a portion of Whitney Park as a dog run, fulfilling a long-desired need for Green Bay pet owners seeking a safe area to exercise their pets. The dog run will be located on the Main Street side of the park and should be completed soon.
Art & Sole 5K Run/Walk
According to a recent story by WLUK Fox11, Green Bay loves to get fit and was ranked as the second fittest city in the state behind Appleton. In that spirit, get your running shoes out and take part in the 5K run/walk that is sponsored by BayCare Clinic. The route takes runners and walkers through the Arts District where the route will pass Olde Main Street murals and bike sculptures. Proceeds from this event will benefit the Olde Main Street Arts District.
The run is scheduled for August 26 at 9 a.m. Registration will be at Whitney Park the day of the race. The date of this event is contingent on weather.
100 Years of Farmers Markets
Green Bay's first farmers markets were started in 1917 at Whitney Park, but now call Washington Street home and take place every Saturday through the season. With 100 years now under its belt, this will be a season of celebration and DTGB has big plans in the works.
“This year we're really focusing on thanking all our vendors," says Hujar, “because without them we wouldn't have a market. Some have been vendors for 35 years."
Hujar cites the camaraderie that exists between vendors and shoppers as being one of the key factors contributing to the Washington Street market's longevity.
During the June 17th market, giveaways, special 100-year stickers and special activities will take place to commemorate the centennial. In addition, Grace Yoga and live music will be summer-long features at the Saturday market and free tote bags are made available by BayCare Clinic.
“New this year to the market," says Hujar, “will be education booths, children's activities and more family-oriented booths on select Saturdays."
The market will continue to offer EBT Food Share as well as the Double Your Bucks Program. For every $10 an individual spends, they'll receive an additional $10 to use on fruits and vegetables. More information on this will be at the market's information booth, located in the market square.
With the market now moving into its centennial year, Parish believes that the long-cultivated family atmosphere is ensuring its survival.
“I see this market going another 100 years," says Parish. “Many parents were brought to the market when they were children, and those same people are now bringing their children to the markets. It's become a family tradition."
Festival Foods Fire over the Fox
A day-long celebration of our nation's independence, this July 4th event is for everyone and includes many ceremonies, veteran salutes, food and beverages, children's rides and waterski shows. The day closes with the area's largest and most brilliant fireworks display set to music. Fireworks begin at dusk on the Main Street Bridge.
A New Mural for Pomp's Tire: Breezn'
Green Bay continues to add new murals to its cityscape on a yearly basis, adding artistic vibrancy and character to Titletown's streets. The trend has caught attention on both a local and national scale.
One such story centers on a colorblind gentleman who received a pair of glasses that would allow him to see color for the first time.
“It was the Green Bay mural painted by Beau Thomas," says Hujar. “It was a rainy day when he chose to go to that mural and see color for the first time … It's a story that I'll never forget."
“These murals are beautification projects and when you look at any of these, we want people to feel that this is where they belong, that they feel like they're home," says Parish.
More murals are expected and DTGB changed its strategy for curating the perfect artist for this year's work.
Says Parish, “For the first time ever, we put out a call to artists for a mural using the Pomp's Tire building. We received 18 submissions and in the end, we chose Lawrence Jankowski to do Breezn'."
A semi-retiree who lives in Green Bay and works at the EAA Museum, Jankowski was chosen for his skill, passion and attention to detail.
“The background of the mural will be a southwest and Smokey Mountain landscape," says Parish. “It shows how Green Bay is a destination no matter where you're coming from."
The mural also features automotive-themed elements that include a 1955 Chevrolet and a mile marker, designated mile marker 1939, that number pays homage to the building it adorns; Pomp's Tire, located at 416 Clay Street, originally opened its doors that same year.
“We also are planning on a car show with the reveal, where the proceeds will be donated to a yet unnamed charity," says Parish.
Breezn' is expected to be completed within the next several weeks.
New Business Recap
Green Bay development has been soaring with several new businesses opening up shop this past year.
Says Parish, “We now have NECTAR, a health and wellness shop that also provides a heart, detox and wellness food program. They have juice cleanses, smoothie and fruit bowls and have recently begun offering delivery."
NECTAR is located at 227 N. Washington Street in downtown Green Bay.
Located two doors down is the newly appointed Presidente Mexican Kitchen, 219 N. Washington St., with a beautiful interior and equally stunning hand-carved furniture. The kitchen is looking forward to opening the upstairs to enjoy outdoor dining with traditional Mexican fare during the summer.
“The cheese dip is highly recommended!" says Hujar.
The Aardvark Wine Lounge, 304 Pine St., features wines from South Africa, Chile, Argentina, Australia and New Zealand. The venue serves lighter fare that includes African-style chutney and meats as well as well as locally sourced sweets.
Four doors down at 235 N. Jefferson Street, the YMCA, originally built in 1924, recently received $13 million in renovations. The project sought to address the current needs of residents as well as the anticipated needs of the community. The renovations included an expanded two-story wellness area, expanded gymnastics center, a family adventure zone and brand new family locker rooms.
According to Hujar, the renovations have made a beautiful building even better.
Another historic building, this one with renovations underway, is the Hotel Northland. The former five-star hotel opened in 1924. It was then touted as Wisconsin's largest hotel, and one that recalls a history tied closely to that of the city and its favorite team — the hotel even served as the backdrop to some of Johnny “Blood" McNally's infamous antics.
Parish is enthusiastic about it nearing completion, bringing the final piece to this resurgent section of the city.
“Having this five-star hotel, and the history, it's just going to be great. Once it is finished, what an amazing street this will be."
With much of its original 1920s architectural integrity being retained and luxurious amenities that include a sports bar, restaurant and private club, Hotel Northland will be returned to its former glory and play host to the creation of new memories for generations to come.
For more information visit downtowngreenbay.com and be sure to follow DTGB on Facebook and Twitter.
--banner photo courtesy Reymond Overland