The Fires of Renewal

Winter Solstice celebration at Olbrich only missing pretty snow cover

The twice annual Solstice bonfire at Olbrich Park. This celebrated the Winter Solsice. December 22, 2015.

The Winter Solstice bonfire, part of a twice annual Solstice celebration held at Olbrich Park on December 22, 2015.

The Solstice is one of the more accessible and life affirming holidays celebrated in Madison and it occurs twice a year! Centered around the astronomical cycles of the sun and the earth, the Solstice is a recognition and reaffirmation of our connection to Mother Earth.

The history of the Solstice reminds us that it is not a single deity or a collection of them that truly drives our existence; it is the natural rhythms of the earth that shaped humanity over time. This recognition is very popular in Madison with many Solstice celebrations held around the city.

Our northern city endures the ravages of winter and the tradition of a bonfire is attractive to our residents as, like in pre-Christian times, it signifies the return of heat and light from the sun after it has spent six months retreating from us.

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The Best Fair in Years

Weather part of great music booking and mix of vendors and events

The sun and clear skies were two of the stars of the 2015 Willy Street Fair.

The sun and clear skies were two of the stars of the 2015 Willy Street Fair.

Every Willy Street Fair seems like the best, but this one felt extra special. After monsoonal rains pelted southern Wisconsin right up until the early morning hours of Saturday the sky was flawless for the next forty hours.

The weather brought out the crowds and fair organizers Common Wealth Development and Wil-Mar Center presented a smartly programmed event with each music stage featuring great acts without an overloaded schedule.

After high energy world music all afternoon on the Main Stage Saturday, the partnership with the Madison World Music Festival paid off with the Ester Rada, the day’s final performance. Her soaring vocals and funky backing band delighted the crowd which filled Plan B’s parking lot.

At the same time, magic was happening on Brearly Street as Colombian EDM duo Mitu made their Midwestern Debut with style providing transfixing beats that had the crowd pulsating to their music featuring mixers and live percussion.

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Buraka Unveils Plans for Façade, Patio

MNA P&D to consider Buraka and Gib’s Bar request for outdoor seating

Plan for the exterior to the new Buraka, which will occupy 1210 Williamson.

Plan for the exterior to the new Buraka, which will occupy 1210 Williamson.

The Marquette Neighborhood Association Preservation & Development Committee meets Tuesday (June 9) to consider and vote on two requests for outdoor seating and one alcohol license. Maron Ragassa, owner of the much-hailed Buraka (1210 Williamson), has revealed drawings for the upgraded front of the building and rear deck and is seeking neighborhood support.

The concrete block building, which was constructed in 1966, has housed such venerated businesses as the Willy Bear and the just departed Jolly Bob’s, but is mostly architecturally unremarkable. This should win easy clearance from the Landmarks Commission; their staff report says Ragassa will have to modify the planned exterior insulation and siding as well as provide more detail about how the rear deck will relate to the building.

Plans submitted to Landmarks shows a layout very similar to Jolly Bob’s with seating for 40 and additional 17 at bar stools. Another eight could be seated outside. Inside capacity is shown at 74 with District Six Alder Marsha Rummel reporting a total capacity of 119. Buraka will be applying to the Alcohol Licensing Review Committee for a Class B combo liquor license with 30 percent alcohol to 65 percent food ratio.  Continue reading

Marquette Neighborhood Easter Egg Hunt this Sunday

Festivities begin at 10 a.m. in the center of the park

Examining their loot after the bing, frantic hunt in Orton Park, April 20, 2014.

Examining their loot after the bing, frantic hunt in Orton Park, April 20, 2014.

Marquette Neighborhood residents will be holding an Easter egg hunt for children on Sunday April 5, 2015. Arrive at 9 a.m to hide the eggs with the hunt to commence at 10 a.m. Organizers also suggest attendees can bring a dish to share at the gazebo following the hunt.

Over 40 children and their families gathered last year to share food and race across the park to find plastic eggs filled with all the things kids like in an egg, various forms of candy. Organized again this year by Meghan Blake-Horst and Lynn Lee, the gathering harkens back to earlier neighborhood events that were smaller and more organic.

See the event’s facebook page for more information.

See photos from last year’s hunt below:

Marquette Neighborhood Easter Egg Hunt 2014

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Participants are made to run in a circle to make sure they are properly warmed up for the hunt.
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A pre-hunt briefing was held with different age groups sent to different areas of the park.
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And they are off!
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A fair bounty secured by this young participant
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Adults were allowed to help as needed.
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This location served up a quandary for several boys. Many tried leaping, throwing twigs, but later was dislodged by an adult.
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Happiness is your friends and a basket full of plastic Easter eggs.
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This boy was fleet of foot...literally.
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The photographer kept a close eye on this egg, but rarely was an egg rescue attempted. However it was eyed often by kids as they passed by.
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Dad leads the way with his egg-tracking ears.
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One girl rests and reflects on her effort this morning.
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Unrestrained joy.
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Having found their eggs, these two girls had moved onto chatting about other things.
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Sorting their loot
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The tools of the trade. Razor, liquids, and the 21st century Easter basket, the bike helmet.
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Food always follows a successful hunt.
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Co-organizer Lynn Lee.

CommuniTree Vandalized by Cowardly Art Critic(s)

Graffiti mark applied to tree was pathetic attempt at protest

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Courtesy: Caffeinated Politics.

The iron tree sculpture that welcomes those traveling eastbound on Williamson to the neighborhood was dedicated Friday (September 12) in a ceremony at Bandung restaurant due to rain.

Named the CommuniTree, the 32-foot tall sculpture stands in the median of Willy street adjacent to Machinery Row and the Gateway Shopping Center.

The tree was erected on August 3, garnering some praise and some comments of disdain; such as describing the tree as akin to a toilet brush, according to the Caffeinated Politics Blog.

In the days before it was dedicated last Friday, someone or several painted a yellow dot on the side of the tree. The dot was likely meant to mimic the City of Madison’s method for identifying trees that need to be removed due to the Emerald Ash Borer.

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Willy Street Fair 2014 Pics & Vids

37th annual Fair bathed in sun and good cheer

The Willy Street Fair, September 14, 2014.

The Willy Street Fair, September 14, 2014.

It was a cloudy start to Sunday but even Mother Nature sensed today was special and the sun emerged as the Willy Street Fair Parade prepared to launch. As it circled through the nine block route in the Marquette neighborhood, the phalanx of fun proved to be one of the largest by way of participants.

Three marching bands at the beginning, middle and end, punctuated appearances by the familiar: stilt walkers, Hoopelation, the circus wheel and the Forward Marching Band; along with new entrants like the Madison Circus Space and the Mustache Beard Wearers Union: Local 608.

Down on Willy Street the thoroughfare filled quickly as temperatures in the middle 60s and possibly a late-afternoon Green Bay Packer kickoff brought people out early. Over 150 vendors filled the curb spaces and the larger presence was notable. The food offerings were diverse and plentiful but the retail booths did not break much new ground.

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The Grand Ceremony of Them All

37th Annual Willy Street Fair to give us one last great summer weekend

Poster by: David Micheal Miller

Poster by: David Micheal Miller

The final festival of the summer is here and just in time as fall stares at us all from off stage. The Willy Street Fair (September 13-14) is this weekend, heralding the end of a great season of celebrations within the neighborhood.

For 37 years we have gathered along several blocks of Williamson to recognize many things; but mostly the spirit of neighborhood togetherness, action and culture. While the event is a fundraiser for both Common Wealth Development and the Wil-Mar Neighborhood Center, organizer Gary Kallas says the community aspect of the fair has always come first.

“It’s more about community building, it’s more about bringing people together,” said Kallas who is Wil-Mar’s executive director. “I like to think of this as sort of secular spiritualism and it culminates the summer, the Willy Street Fair, with the grand, grand ceremony of em all the Parade on Sunday at 11 a.m.”

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Gallery: Yum Yum Fest 2014

 

The first annual Yum Yum Fest held forth in the newly opened Central Park as members of the Madison Area Chefs Network offered their most creative dishes to attendees. The event was created to highlight the strong connection many Madison restaurants have with local food vendors.

Along with the food were four strong musical acts to entertain the throng on a glorious late summer Sunday afternoon.

 

Yum Yum Fest Celebrates Local Food Producers

Madison chefs to serve creative dishes, share skills

Courtesy: Yum Yum Fest 2014

Courtesy: Yum Yum Fest 2014

Some may think Madison is one of the snobbiest cities in the land, but there is one thing we won’t apologize for: the festivals. This city packs an incredible amount of these celebrations in our small window of temperature appropriate weather each year. One more event has been added to the summer lineup with tomorrow’s Yum Yum Fest in Central Park.

Created by the newly formed Madison Area Chefs Network; the festival will highlight the incredible, and nationally recognized, dining options that have emerged here in Madison and their kitchen leaders who have committed to sourcing much of their food locally.

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Galaxie Groundbreaking Set for Sept 16

55,000 square foot Festival Foods store hopes to open  by summer of 2015

The next phase of progress in the Capital East District will begin ceremonially on September 16 as city leaders and developers will break ground on the $90 million Galaxie, a 14-story 670,000 square foot mixed-use development that will transform the 800 block on the north side of East Washington Avenue.

It is almost a shame that this space will be disrupted since a lovely carpet of green grass has grown over the former Don Miller site following a soil remediation project. But it seems to be a worthwhile disruption as the new complex will address many of the goals of the City of Madison, the adjoining neighborhoods, and the growing demand for housing in the city core.

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