andrew kruse-ross | celebrate de pere | may 2018
It's difficult, still reeling from the aftermath of Winter Storm Evelyn, to imagine northeastern Wisconsin ever seeing anything in 2018 resembling a summer. Thus far, our calendars say spring, but our weather has not. In these parts, one doesn't need a calendar or a weather-predicting rodent to know when fairer weather is on the way, and it is a pretty safe bet the white stuff should be long gone when Celebrate De Pere, this area's official kickoff to summer, begins over Memorial Day weekend.
What began as a one-day event back in 1990 has grown to encompass an entire weekend. Now, nearly 30 years on, Celebrate has evolved into one of the state's premier outdoor events all the while staying true to a mission to use proceeds from the event to support area non-profits, especially those serving our veterans.
To date, Celebrate De Pere has raised more than $2 million for area organizations.
“It's a great opportunity,” says Celebrate De Pere President, Bob Tease. “Any money that people spend — you come out, you buy a hamburger, you buy a hot dog, you buy a ticket — a portion of that money not only goes to area non-profits, but the majority of it goes for veteran services and causes right here in northeastern Wisconsin."
Celebrate De Pere offers an assortment of events and activities to suit fun seekers of all ages, but its main attraction for many is its musical headliners, which close out festivities on Saturday and Sunday nights.
“We've always set up Saturday as a national rock 'n' roll act and Sunday as a national country act,” says Tease.
Last year the event hosted blue-eyed soul performer Felix Cavaliere and country-pop stalwarts Sawyer Brown to the main stage.
In 2018, the Saturday evening headliner has moved away from soul and steadfast into the realm of rock 'n' roll, featuring original Kiss member, the legendary guitarist Ace Frehley.
Frehley was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2014 alongside his former Kiss bandmates and is credited with some of the band's most notable songs, including “Cold Gin” and “Parasite.”
His most recent solo album, “Origins, Vol. 1” features guest appearances by Slash, Lita Ford, John 5 and Paul Stanley and features covers of classic rock songs including those originally performed by Cream, Led Zeppelin, The Kinks and others.
On Sunday evening, country music duties will be handled by Kellie Pickler.
Having completed 11 USO tours, Pickler is an avid supporter of the US military and undoubtedly a fine choice to headline over Memorial Day weekend.
Pickler first garnered national acclaim as a contestant during the fifth season of “American Idol.” Her debut album, “Small Town Girl,” sold more than 900,000 copies worldwide under the momentum of hits like “Red High Heels” and “I Wonder.” And her album “100 Proof,” received No. 1 Country Album of the Year honors from “Rolling Stone.”
Many more will know Pickler from her numerous television appearances, which include her own CMT documentary-comedy series “I Love Kellie Pickler,” as well as appearances on “Ellen,” “Rachel Ray” and “Good Morning America.”
Aside from the aforementioned headliners, Celebrate De Pere features performances by many of the area's hottest bands on two stages.
“If the band performing on the main stage isn't to your liking, you can head down to the river stage," says Tease.
Celebrate De Pere isn't just for music lovers, kids will enjoy the full carnival and midway.
Not wanting to lose sight of the occasion, a Veterans Salute area will be set up during the entire weekend with an annual Memorial Day Veterans Salute Ceremony taking place on the Main Stage at 12:15 p.m. after the De Pere Kiwanis Memorial Day Parade, which ends at Voyageur Park. This year, special guests Frank Hermans and Amy Riemer, of Let Me Be Frank Productions, will perform during the salute. All branches of the military will be recognized during this ceremony.
“It's an awesome day to come out and pay tribute, not only to those soldiers serving but to those who have fallen," says Tease.
Other activities include a car show, fireworks, fishing tournament, BAGM Redneck Regatta, wine and art showcase and the 36thAnnual Christy's Race.
For a complete list of activities visit CelebrateDePere.com.
Presale tickets are available for $7.50 until 10 p.m. on May 25 and available at all Festival Foods Locations.After May 25, tickets are available at the gate and are $10 from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. and $15 after 8 p.m. ($10 for those under 15).
Family of six packages are $40 and available at Festival Foods until May 25.
VIP passes for Ace Frehley and Kellie Pickler shows are available for $25 and include up-front seating, private cash bar, private restrooms, prizes and a chance to win meet and greet passes. VIP passes are available through Ticketstar.
Live Music Schedule
Saturday Main Stage
12 p.m. – 1:30 p.m. Crankin' Yankees
2:15 p.m. – 3:45 p.m. Ask Your Mother
4:30 p.m. – 6 p.m. Annex
6:45 p.m. – 8:45 p.m. Johnny Wad
9:30 p.m. – 11 p.m. Ace Frehley
Saturday River Stage
12 p.m. – 2 p.m. The Riot Act
2:45 p.m. – 4:15 p.m. Tate Rooper
5 p.m. – 7 p.m. Boombox
7:45 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. Sonic Circus
Sunday Main Stage
12 p.m. – 1:30 p.m. Bad Habitz
2:15 p.m. – 3:45 p.m. Grand Union
4:30 p.m. – 6 p.m. Separate Ways
6:45 p.m. – 8:45 p.m. Red Clover
9:45 p.m. – 11p.m. Kellie Pickler
Sunday River Stage
12 p.m. – 2 p.m. Conscious Pilot
2:45 p.m. – 4:45 p.m. Verona Grove
5:30 p.m. – 7 p.m. One Hot Mess
7:45 p.m. – 9:15 p.m. Sir Real
Monday Main Stage
1 p.m. – 4 p.m. RPM