La Fête Makes Triumphant Central Park Return

Masked Ball for adults and kids joins french, cajun and blues music festival

Underground house music DJ Derrick Carter will headline the Masked Ball Saturday at  La Fete de Marquette.

Underground house music DJ Derrick Carter will headline the Masked Ball Saturday at La Fete de Marquette.

La Fête de Marquette, the French-infused neighborhood celebration of music and culture that raises money for the Wil-Mar Neighborhood Center is returning to a familiar but much improved place. Central Park was officially opened this year and La Fête will be the first festival to be held after long delayed plans to develop the space as a park were finally realized.

The first two festivals were held to promote the idea of Central Park and were located on the grounds of the current park. For seven years the festival has grown and matured while it dwelled at the corner of Dickinson and Main Streets. This year features a vast and inspired mix of events including one named Big Top, which suggests the return to a larger space is just in time.

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Willy Street Declares Summer of Art

Two Plan B murals and long-awaited Gateway sculpture to debut this month

A version of the Baltimore Love Mural which always features the hands in black. Courtesy:

A version of the Baltimore Love Mural which always features the hands in black. Courtesy:

Symbols of love will begin to grow on the east wall of Plan B nightclub today (July 9) as muralist Michael Owen starts painting a version of his Baltimore Love Mural. The mural features four hands, painted in black, spelling out the word “love” in sign language and is named for the effort to paint 20 walls throughout Baltimore, Maryland.

The project is coming to Madison as part of the Marquette Neighborhood Association’s (MNA) ongoing Arts Initiative which has, along with the City of Madison and other benefactors, sponsored several unique projects known as the Public Art Concept, with a goal of placing art in different forms along Williamson Street.

The initiative, which began with Poetry in Sidewalks, is nearing a crescendo as the Williamson Gateway Sculpture will likely be in place this month. Owen’s mural is the second major mural project in as many years after graffiti artist Panmela Castro’s prodigious piece The Siamese Twins  evolved on the west wall of Willy Street Co-op East over four days in July 2013.

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Willy Street Blog @ “2”

Neighborhood blog to continue hyper-focus

What do you give the neighborhood that has everything? Well certainly not another person with an opinion. When you start a blog, its like any good essay, pick a few central themes and nurture them with attribution and reasoned analysis. But it is no small challenge to write about by far the most engaged, opinionated, funky, and cool neighborhood in the nation.

Willy Street Blog was born in March 2012, in the midst of the recall drive, but soon turned away from state politics as plenty of great voices were already speaking to the issue. In a city that features stupendous local reporting from numerous outlets, why should anyone bother to read some random blog?

The key is to really not care.

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Scenes from La Fete de Marquette

A view from the Big Wheel of  La Fete de Marquette, Saturday July 13, 2013.

A view from the Big Wheel of La Fete de Marquette, Saturday July 13, 2013.

La Fete de Marquette benefited from glorious weather this weekend with sunny skies and highs in the 80s. The sun splashed French music and culture festival to benefit Wil-Mar Neighborhood Center overcame the slightly uncomfortable temperatures at times to provide foot-stomping music both on the main stage and underneath the big tent.

One of the highlights so far has been the performances of Mama Digdown’s Brass Band which is celebrating 20 years as a Madison stalwart. The New Orleans style brass band raised the big tent Saturday afternoon with a raucous performance.  Continue reading

La Fete de Marquette Begins Today

7th Annual French music and culture festival benefits Wil-Mar Neighorhood Center

Its been called one of the best music festivals in the City of Madison. Even the New Orleans musicians invited north to play the event say it outclasses many gatherings in the Crescent City. For the Marquette neighborhood its just good fun for a good cause.

The 7th Annual La Fete de Marquette begins tonight through Sunday (July 11-14) at the corners of East Washington Avenue and South Dickinson Streets. Its is just the right mix of great music, carnival fun (the Ferris Wheel is back!), and the best of East Side area restaurants.  Continue reading

Orton Park Ready to Celebrate

47th Orton Fest is here despite lingering noise and crowd concerns

In 1975 the festival was known as the MNA picnic. Rented from the City was a trailer that transformed into a stage. Courtesy: Richard and Judith Guyot

The Orton Park Festival (August 23-26) is just days away in this year of the perpetual summer. After Orton there is just one last neighborhood gathering to go, the Willy Street Fair. The Fair, The Fest, La Fete and Waterfront have been fantastic neighborhood celebrations; but may be a victim of their own successes as they have grown exponentially in popularity, and for some, threaten the beauty of the neighborhood they celebrate.

As a kid over three decades ago, the Orton Park Festival was the last event of the summer since it always seemed to fall on the Sunday before the first day of school. That would be Monday, the very next day. So it was a bittersweet time, filled with games, food, music, and my friends, but the first day of school always loomed.

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Willy Street Co-op Expansion Pays Off

Co-op profitable two years ahead of schedule

Perfect weather made for a great opening night to La Fete de Marquette 2012. Curley Taylor and Zydeco Trouble, plus Sarazino got the crowd dancing.

The first day of La Fete de Marquette was a nice mix of community, fun, and music. It was the perfect night to start a 4-day music festival with temperatures in the mid-70s, no wind and clear skies. The Willy Street Co-op held their annual membership meeting on the grounds, offering a free dinner to members, while also reporting on the state of the Co-op 18 months after opening Willy West in Middleton.  Continue reading

La Fete de Marquette is Magnifique

Four day music festival growing with style

La Fete de Marquette, July 12-15, 2012 in the Marquette Neighborhood.

The seventh annual La Fete de Marquette, celebrating French music and culture, begins today (July 12) at the corner of South Dickinson and East Main Streets. While Pere Marquette did traipse through these lands in the 1600s (see Portage, Wisconsin), the relative lack of a historical French connection to the Marquette neighborhood will not stop them from holding a really cool party for Bastille Day.

The free four-day event is one of the “Big Four” Marquette neighborhood summer festivals and is a fundraiser for the Wil-Mar Neighborhood Center.

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