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.
37th Annual Willy Street Fair to give us one last great summer weekend
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.”
Fantastic parade kicks off great final day at the Fair
The parade ends with a impromptu street party, the Bubbleman himself, Jim Wildeman can’t help but grin.
I heard it from several people over and over again that the 2012 Willy Street Fair was probably the best in a long time, if not ever. The weather, enthusiasm, and proud traditions combined for a second day as thousands appeared on three blocks of Willy Street to take in music, food, entertainment, and a large amount of vendors.
Almost everyone was raving about the parade, led by the Bubblemobile, that was lively and the probably the largest ever. After the parade had made a lap through the neighborhood it was time for the stretch run down Willy and its traditional finish in the middle of the 900 block; where both parade participants and viewers danced under the balloon banner for an extended period of time.
You really missed a great Saturday on Willy Street, parade today
As the sun sets the crowd sways to the music of St. Lucia-based Taj Weekes. Photo by: Thomas Balistreri
While its the people that make the Willy Street Fair so great, the weather was a close second. With a temperature near eighty degrees, thousands came to Willy Street on Saturday (September 15) for Day One of the Fair. Food, drink, and music filled the 900 and 1000 blocks of Williamson Street. The Main, Folk, and Electronic stages were in action with day-long line ups. Continue reading →
Final summer celebration is this Saturday and Sunday
The Willy Street Fair Parade, circa 1985. An earlier incarnation of Jim Wildeman’s Bubblemobile still retains the iconic bubble smokestacks. The author is pedaling furiously in a homemade pedal car. Courtesy: Richard and Judith Guyot.
It is simply the best neighborhood festival in the City of Madison, and as far as I’m concerned the best festival ever. I’m a little biased having grown up with the Willy Street Fair (September 15-16) in my backyard, but i’m sure all will agree this weekend’s event is the best expression of what it means to live, work, and play in the Marquette neighborhood.
We have arrived at the end of a great summer for festivals in the Marquette neighborhood despite the wish for a little more rain and less heat. The weather for this weekend will be sunny and in the mid-70s which will bring throngs of people to the 900 and 1000 blocks of Williamson Street.