Variety of Events Designed to Attract All Ages

Published Thursday, June 2, 2016

Whether its family-friendly outdoor movies, the expansive weekly Farmers Markets, or a series of noon and nighttime concerts, the lineup of events in Downtown Appleton this summer is intended to attract people of all ages while adding to the economic vitality of the Downtown district. Appleton Downtown Inc. (ADI) Executive Director Jennifer Stephany today announced the list of activities centered in the Downtown, stressing that ultimately the lineup builds on ADI’s commitment to bolster the one-mile stretch of College Avenue and the adjacent riverfront as a visitor destination and a place where creativity influences culture, cuisine, shopping and entertainment. Some of the events aim to capitalize on enjoying summer weather in outdoor venues, while others entice participants into downtown establishments for food, shopping, arts and entertainment. With input from downtown business owners, the ADI staff has built the slate of events to appeal to a wide spectrum of ages and interests. “Each summer, more and more visitors and local residents are drawn into Appleton’s Downtown, thus increasing awareness of all our city has to offer,” Stephany says. “Whether people are visiting Appleton enroute to another destination, or local residents explore the Downtown as a staycation, the dollars they spend in this area for food, shopping and entertainment help strengthen our local economy and ensure that Appleton remains a place where people want to live and work.” Throughout the summer, a free Downtown Trolley will shuttle weekend visitors between College Avenue and the riverfront from June 2 through September 24, running from 5 to 11 p.m. on Thursdays and Fridays, and from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Saturdays. “Riding the Trolley lends a fun, sort of vintage feel to the Downtown experience,” Stephany says, noting that ridership has grown from year to year as more people utilize the service which this year will be sponsored by Valley Transit, FNB, Stellar Blue, City of Appleton and ADI. Several venues in the Downtown will be jumping with live music as ADI continues to coordinate the immensely popular Heid Music Summer Concert Series each Thursday evening from June 2 through September 1. According to Stephany, the majority of concerts in the lineup will take place in Houdini Plaza, while one large concert each month will move to Jones Park near the riverfront to enable participants to enjoy the larger, family-friendly greenspace setting and support businesses in the west end of the Downtown. The Heid Music Summer Concert Series takes place each Thursday evening from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. featuring some of the region’s top bands. Food and beverages are available from local vendors and Downtown establishments. ADI will partner with the Mile of Music Festival in early August as that event highlights emerging artists performing their own original music in some 800 live sets performed in 70 venues both indoors and out. The regular Thursday evening Heid Music Summer Concert in Houdini Plaza will tie into the Mile of Music lineup. This year, Downtown businesses are being invited to participate in the “Adopt An Artist” campaign in conjunction with Mile of Music. “A number of Downtown businesses that would not otherwise be able to participate more directly in Mile of Music asked ADI to help find a way for them to feel more a part of the festival and engage visitors,” says Stephany. “So this year we’ve invited local business owners to “adopt” an artist or band. Some of the ways they can support their artist include offering their CDs or merchandise in their business; play their music; decorate their window or a spot inside their business to showcase the performers, and let customers know when their artists are performing.” Crazy Sweet owner Dale Ver Voort gets noticeably excited when he talks about adopting the band Me Like Bees. The musicians discovered the College Avenue candy store while in town to perform at a  previous Mile of Music, and got to know the owners. Crazy Sweet will not only offer the band’s CDs and merchandise, but also will feature honey-flavored confections. “We can’t wait for them to come back!” says Ver Voort. “They loved our store, and my kids, who are musicians, really like their music. Plus, the Adopt an Artist program is a great way for Downtown establishments to make the artists feel welcome in our community, let them hang out when they aren’t performing, and get to know the people in our area. It’s a way more of us can feel part of the festival and still draw people into our businesses.” Adding to the concert offerings this summer will be Lunchtime Live, a series of noontime singer-songwriter performances staged in Houdini Plaza each Thursday from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. between June 2 and September 1. Support for both concert series this summer comes from Heid Music; BMO Harris Bank; MillCreek; General Beer; WI Distributors; Habash, Habash & Rottier SC; IPS Testing; Tundraland; EPS; AZCO; WEST Corporation; Atrium Health & Senior Living; Festival Foods, and Fox Cities Signs & Lighting. Music also will take to the street corners of the Downtown during Street Music Week June 6-10 from 12 noon until 1 p.m. Local artists, both established and those polishing their performance skills, will be featured. One of the region’s largest and best attended farm markets will continue to grow with more than 150 vendors setting up their booths on College Avenue each Saturday morning from June 18 through October 29. The Market is open 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Stephany notes that as many as 7,500 attendees enjoy the Downtown Appleton Farm Market during the peak weekends of the summer growing season. The Market is sponsored by ThedaCare; St. Elizabeth Hospital; UnitedHealthcare; Ulness Health Insurance & Wellness; Gateway Chiropractic; Atlas Group; Tundraland, and Sure-Dry Basement Systems. The fun in Downtown isn’t limited to weekends. In fact, ADI has packed so much activity into the mid-week that it is packaging those events into “WOW Wednesday!” The name stands for Wild On Wednesdays, when activities include everything from family movie nights to yoga in City Park, from bicycle rides and fitness runs to historical walking tours, and much more. Family-friendly movies will be shown at dusk in Houdini Plaza on Wednesday evenings from July 27 through August 24. Stepping out on College Avenue on Saturday, June 11 is the nation’s oldest and one of its largest Flag Day parades. Bands, drum and bugle corps and many specialty entries will take part, all to the delight of the thousands of people who will line the street. The event gets underway at 2 p.m. The talents of local artists will be featured during Art on the Town on the third Friday evening of the month from May 20 through September 16. From 6 to 9 p.m., artists will demonstrate their craft and engage with visitors as they are featured at various Downtown establishments Many locations also offer a sampling of small treats or refreshments to attendees. Themes for this summer’s Art on the Town include Cultural Art on the Town on June 17, “Our Downtown Story” Chalk on the Town on July 15, Paint on the Town on August 19 and PARK(ing)! Day on September 16. Appleton International Airport is the presenting sponsor for Art on the Town. Supporting sponsors include City of Appleton, Tundraland, Bazil’s Pub and Capital Credit Union. Merchandise from Avenue stores will take to the outdoors for a Sidewalk Sale on Saturday, August 6 from 1 to 4 p.m. Sidewalk sales were a tradition in the Downtown for many years, and are an often-requested event, according to Stephany. Stephany cites Appleton’s growing popularity as a place where creativity flourishes and there’s plenty of activity for people of all ages to enjoy as being an important part of the city’s evolution as an arts and entertainment destination. “Appleton’s very walkable, safe Downtown really resonates with visitors and locals alike,” she says,
“because not only do we offer a lot to see and do, but what we offer has a very distinctive local flavor that makes our city stand out from others in the region and people feel comfortable coming here. “All of this contributes to a growing creative economy here that includes the arts as well as music and business enterprise. It’s exciting to watch new ideas take hold and become events or new ventures, and watch support grow. When we offer a memorable experience to visitors they are more likely to return and explore more of what we have to offer. This helps shape our community as a welcoming place to visit, as well as to live and work in.” Details of all of these events are available online at ADI’s website, www.appletondowntown.org, on Facebook at Appleton Downtown Fan Page or on Twitter @downtowncool. About Appleton Downtown, Inc. ADI is a non-profit advocacy source for the businesses and merchants of Downtown Appleton, presenting the weekly Downtown Appleton Indoor Winter Farm Market and a host of other events. For more information about ADI and/or a complete listing of upcoming Downtown happenings, visit ADI’s new website, www.appletondowntown.org, or check them out on Facebook at the Appleton Downtown or Downtown Appleton Food & Fun Fan Pages, or on Twitter @downtowncool and @dwtnappleton. 

Premier Members

BMO Harris Miller Electric Thrivent Financial WE Energies