andrew kruse-ross | downtown green bay | june 2019
Visit downtown Green Bay in summer and look to the sky and you're bound to see a squadron of pelicans overhead. Once absent for more than a century, these birds have become regular visitors to Wisconsin, making the restored barrier islands that protect Green Bay's wetlands their seasonal home. To see pelicans overhead is to witness a local resurgence in action.
Their return is but one area success story but the pelicans aren't the only ones returning to Green Bay's center.
This summer, thousands of Wisconsin residents will soak up the summer sun in the city's heart along either side of the Fox River. The river that once divided a community now unites it, serving as the primary hub from which a downtown campaign of resurgence was launched. One needs only to glance at the assortment of happenings offered downtown to witness this resurgence in action. To do so, one need look no further than the pages of the Downtown Green Bay Summer in the City Guide.
In year's past, both a summer and winter guide were offered annually. Today, three guides are necessary to accommodate the ever-growing events offered in and around the city's center.
Without further ado, here's a brief look at this year's Summer in the City events.
In With The New
Whitney Park has a storied history. It once played host to the city's first farmers market more than 100 years ago and it's where a young Curly Lambeau once played football beneath its tall oaks. In 2019 Whitney Park will add to that history as the inaugural Theatre in the Park event is scheduled to take place on its stage on June 30. Taking the stage to present Shakespeare's “A Midsummer Night's Dream” is Green Bay's first professional regional theatre company, Play-by-Play Theatre.
“All these movies in the park or concerts in the park events are kind of popping up everywhere but no one yet has done theatre in the park, so we're super excited to be a part of that,” says Kathryn Kroll, Marketing Manager for Downtown Green Bay, Inc.
This event is free and visitors are encouraged to bring blankets or chairs as seating is limited. Food trucks will also be on site.
Building upon the success of the popular Café and International Cuisine Crawls, downtown Green Bay restaurants are teaming up for this year's All American Cuisine Crawl on July 30. Catch a trolley and take a tour of America without the hassles of travel.
“You'll be kind of eating your way around our country,” says DTGB Event Manager, Jen Metcalf.
Expect barbecued ribs, Tex-Mex, chicken and waffles and more to be on offer during this popular event and be sure to register early as Metcalf suspects tickets for this event won't last long.
“We sold the event out in four days when we did our International Cuisine Crawl,” says Metcalf.
Across the Fox River, the folks at On Broadway are putting Leicht Memorial Park to good use by offering a free new music series. The Levitt AMP Green Bay Music Series presented by Fox Community Credit Union is a 10-week long music series that brings nationally touring performers to the stage to promote cultural inclusivity. The series opens on June 18 with Austin's Taméca Jones.
Other performers of note scheduled to appear include Knox Hamilton, the Suffers, Dos Santos, the Lique and La Misa Negra among others. A complete lineup can be found online. Blankets and chairs are encouraged. Concessions and food trucks will be on site.
Returning Favorites and A Lot to Celebrate
With what often seems like endless winters, it's important to make the most of every summer moment. As such, look for Fridays on the Fox to kick off early in 2019.
“We're kicking off summer really early the first Friday in June,” says Metcalf.
It'll be a Beatlemania-syle weekend as the BriTins kick things off on Friday night and Sir Paul visits Lambeau on Saturday.
Look for some old favorites to take the stage during this series along with newcomers the N.E.W. Piano Guys, Hip Pocket and Panic Station. This series begins at 6 p.m. on Fridays and runs through July 19.
As always, this event takes place at CityDeck.
Nicolet Bank's Dine on the Deck, a lunchtime event, returns on Wednesdays offering food from local restaurants and live music on the CityDeck. New to this event is Hotel Northland's Poke the Bear. This event series begins on June 5 and runs through Aug. 14.
Speaking of CityDeck, November marks the 10th anniversary of this historic downtown gathering place but don't expect anyone to wait until fall to start celebrating.
“We don't want to wait until November to celebrate when it's going to be full of fun events this summer,” says Kroll. “What's great about this is that our entire community is programming events around CityDeck.”
Returning to utilize CityDeck is the Boys & Girls Club of Green Bay on July 20 with a great spectator event, the Dragon Boat Races.
And new to Green Bay, the Ride Across Wisconsin (RAW) event offers cycling enthusiasts a chance to participate in a 225-mile, two-day ride across the Dairy State. Rider registration takes place in Green Bay and then riders are transported to the starting-gate city of La Crosse to make the trip back to the finish line in Green Bay. Ultimately the trip will end in a celebration upon CityDeck.
Returning to Whitney Park on June 20 is the Summer Solstice event, which features live music from The Presidents, local brews and food trucks as well as games for the whole family.
Whitney Park will again play host to the Summer in the Park series presented by Pomp's Tire. Enjoy live midday music on Thursdays from July 11 through Aug. 8.
“There's live music concerts almost every day of the week once summer starts,” says Kroll.
Music isn't all you'll find downtown this summer and there's simply too much to mention here, but all of the area favorites — igNite Market, the farmers markets, Art Street and even the Tall Ships — return to Green Bay in 2019.
Metcalf and Kroll may not need to look overhead to see the role their work is playing on downtown Green Bay's resurgence, they can see it during every event scheduled in our city's center. The importance of this work isn't lost on them.
“These events are helping to keep Green Bay on the map,” says Kroll. “I think we're part of the reason that people are choosing to come to Green Bay and choosing to live in Green Bay and that's really cool.
The fact that we can go to work every day and influence somebody's decision to come back to this city or stay in this city after school or relocate to a job here is one of the coolest things about our work.”
For a complete listing of events taking place downtown, pick up your Summer in the City Events Guide at your favorite downtown local business or download a copy at downtowngreenbay.com.
Volunteer opportunities exist for On Broadway events. Write Chelsea at Chelsea@onbroadway.org or call (920) 437-2531 for details or sign up for their newsletter at downtowngreenbay.com.
For more on RAW visit rideacrosswisconsin.com.
Banner image: Used with permission by the City of Green Bay, Wis.