Once the lilacs bloom you know festival season is here. When Memorial Day arrives you can be sure of two things. 1- driving north will be a long process as a lot of people will be heading up to their cabins or land to set it up for the summer and 2 – Voyageur Park in De Pere will be transformed into Celebrate De Pere. We all know that in Wisconsin in May weather can still be temperamental. In fact we still heard that f word being tossed about this month. You all know it…….f-l-u-r-r-i-e-s….but this year the weather was good as it could have been for Friday, Saturday, Sunday and mostly Monday. Just warm enough without being too warm.
Anyone with an average family might have needed to take out a small loan in order to occupy their children for the day. I have
a husband, two teenage daughters, a 5 year old boy and myself. To get in it was $5 before 7pm
for anyone over 8 and $10 after 7pm
. Although it was still cheaper than Fire Over The Fox will be ($10.00 can you believe that!) Tickets for rides were $3.50 a ride or 8 tickets for $20. On Monday you could have unlimited rides for a $16.00 wristband. There was only 4 rides that someone 5 years old could go on. There were bouncy castles but to be honest I wasn’t able to make it over there to see if they were free but I can’t imagine there being a cost being so far away from the rides. So if that’s the case that is a nice bonus for the ones of us with small kids. However, as the night grew later the lines grew very long and it took my daughters almost 15 minutes to get through and it was near impossible to navigate through the 20 and under crowd. I’d suggest staying far away from the carnival games after the sun goes down. It’s incredibly crowed with teenagers and if you are in your 30s like me you might feel very much out of place.
Sodas were around $2.50-3.00, beer $3.00-$5.00 and food ran from $2.00 for popcorn to as much as $10.00. The carnival games were a big draw but I can’t bring myself to pay for something that I know is near impossible to win anything good. I’d rather go to the marketplace and buy my kids a souvenir. As for the marketplace, there was a nice variety. There was face painting and henna as there is at every festival but this time it was done by students and prices started at .25 for face painting and $2.00 for henna which is quite affordable for a parent so it was something you could actually say yes when you child said “can I get this?” There was all the usual items, sunglasses, jewelry, inflatables, businesses, non profits, scarfs, shirts all that were normally prices for example sunglasses were the generic kind priced at $10.00. The marketplace was nicely situated next to the car show and the Y100 stage.
The car show had some beautiful classics and tricked out newer models. I’m a muscle girl so I was drawn to the Chevelles, Impalas, Camaros, Chargers, Mustangs, Challengers…but all the cars were beautiful. They were showcased beautifully under the trees, in the shade with the Fox River gently lapping the shore. I could have easily lounged in the backseat of one of the convertibles and just wasted the day listening to the music playing and the river. However, I don’t own a classic convertible so I could only dream and move along the line of cars.
There were two stages of music like there are every year, the main Y100 stage and The Vault stage. The talent were all
associated with Bananas Entertainment except for the main attraction which was The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. All bands really had the fans rocking. You had all types of music for all tastes. But the real highlight of Sunday night
music wise was The Red Light Saints. This was their first electric performance since coming back from their second U.S tour and they brought it. They opened their show with an original ‘On The Pavement’ off their debut E.P “The Legend of Jasper Pipestone”. Their originals were right at home along with an Alice in Chains cover and a Live cover (which they like to do since they toured with Ed) and a one or two other they threw in between their originals ending the night with their debut song “Say What You Will”. Make sure you request the song on the Razor 94.7 and check them out when they play the main stage at Fire over the Fox before the Fireworks on July 4th.
Celebrate De Pere has some of the best seats for watching fireworks. We sat right by The Vault stage and they were right in front of us. It meant we didn’t have to strain our necks to see. It was like the fireworks were meant for us. Anyone whose been to any firework show knows finding a seat to see the all the fireworks without any obstructions is like finding that front parking spot at Bay Park on noon on December 24th.
We couldn’t have gotten a better seat. They were good fireworks and the finale was especially exciting probably because we were in such good seats but I’d prefer to have shorter main fireworks and a longer finale but my whole family enjoyed them.
Overall it was enjoyable but a very expensive venture. I look forward to enjoying it again next year…I’ve already started my Celebrate De Pere savings fund.