Willy Street Fair is Perfect End of Summer Ritual

Dry temperate weather on tap for final festival of the season

The Willy Street Fair is this weekend, September 19-20 2015.

The Willy Street Fair is this weekend, September 19-20 2015.

It has been a fantastic summer for neighborhood celebrations in Willyland. Waterfront, La Fête de Marquette, Orton were solid as ever along with some sophomores like Yum Yum Fest and Central Park Sessions. Creating addition buzz was Africa Fest and the opening of the new Goodman Skate Park in Central Park.

Our new park on Wilson street is really coming into it’s own, but it’s appropriate to bring the fun back to Willy Street for one last weekend of summer fun, music, food and celebration of our great neighborhood.

We have had some challenges this year too. The death of Tony Robinson only a half-block from where this year’s fair will take place has highlighted the work both police our city have to do to be more inclusive to our minority communities. Yes even the open arms of the Marquette neighborhood still has some things to learn.

Our funky neighborhood is also dealing with other crime such as the terrible sexual assault last weekend on the Capitol City Trail bike path and questions of how development should proceed along this street that still has many residential buildings.

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NWS Says Tornado Visited Marquette Neighborhood

Damage wrought by an EF1 twister, ‘hood seeks to repurpose downed Orton trees

This Orton Park oak, stricken by the recent tornado, may soon become a playground for neighborhood kids. Courtesy: Orton Park Natural Play Structure

This Orton Park oak, stricken by the recent tornado, may soon become a playground for neighborhood kids. Courtesy: Orton Park Natural Play Structure

It sounded like a tornado, the damage looked like a tornado and on Friday (June 20) the National Weather Service (NWS) in Milwaukee updated its assessment of the storms of June 16-17 adding the Marquette neighborhood to the list of areas touched by a tornado, rating it an EF1.

The storm impacted an area from B.B. Clarke Beach to Olbrich Park, with the heaviest along a narrow grouping of streets from the Monona lake shore to Wilson Street. The damage matched many descriptions of typical tornado damage where some structures were decimated while other objects only feet away incurred nary a scratch.

In Orton Park a few trees did not survive, including an old oak next to the middle path in the center of the park. But the tree may live on as a unique and rapid effort by neighbors has delayed removal of that tree, designating it for possible conversion into a “natural play structure” for children.

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You Don’t Have to be Political to Love Radicals

Madison’s pro Ultimate Disc team is winning fans in second season

Madison Radicals Defender Mike Swain appreciates his fandom, the UW-Whitewater grad and U.S. Army veteran is a fan favorite.

Mike Swain, a Madison Radicals defender and U.S. Army veteran ,appreciates his fandom.

While Madison tries hard to support its professional sports teams for as long as they exist; I believe, after attending my first American Ultimate Disc League game recently, that the Madison Radicals may be the truest form of social and sporting expression that this city can make.

For as long as I can remember, warm sunny days in any Madison park, but surely James Madison, have fostered the fertile natural and native talent of disc players, much like hockey seemingly grows from the soil of Minnesota. As amatuer teams still thrive in this city, its deep bench is also able to stack a strong group of “paid” players that almost won the professional league championship last year.

My first Radicals game two weeks ago (May 9) was at Breese Stevens Field, a glorious historic stadium that the City of Madison has steadfastly has committed to keeping active, mostly through soccer tournaments.

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Kids Find Easter Treasure in Orton Park

Over 40 children scour the park for candied delights during 17th annual hunt

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

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

We could call this the first real day of spring when sunshine, temperatures, and firm soil all collaborated to provide great conditions for the 17th annual Marquette Neighborhood Easter Egg Hunt.

Over 40 children and their families gathered mid-morning Sunday (April 20) 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 this year by Meghan Blake-Horst and Lynn Lee, the gathering harkened back to earlier neighborhood events that were smaller and more organic.

Annette Hansen, one of the egg hunt originators adds a little history event a few weeks after this post was published:

“The Spring egg hunt was started by Karen Lentfer and myself years ago when our children were small, as a celebration of Spring. The kids would design fliers and hand them out to families living near the park and they in turn would share the event with friends. Older kids help the younger children – some years in sunshine, others in rain or snow. It evolved to include a potluck brunch allowing neighbors to get re-acquainted after a long winter. In more recent years, as Karen and my children got older, Georgia Corner’s children helped with drawing and distributing fliers. Now more families with younger children are carrying on what has become an expected tradition.”

This summer’s festivals are still a can’t-miss, but today’s event was just nice, uncomplicated, unamplified, chaotic fun. See the gallery below for images of the hunt.

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.

Star Bar Ready to Shine

One Barrel and Jade Monkey owners collaborate, open bar in Capitol East District

Star Bar, 756 East Washington Avenue, is on the first floor of The Constellation building.

Star Bar, 756 East Washington Avenue, is on the first floor of The Constellation building.

A new bar opening in the 700 block of East Washington Avenue plans to fuse Madison’s near-East Side industrial heritage with the present-day funky vibe of the Tenney and Marquette neighborhoods.

Star Bar, operated by Peter Gentry and Hawk Sullivan, opens January 16 on the first floor of The Constellation building, part of a slate of first floor retail offerings for the 12-story mixed-used building which opened last year.

Both men grew up in the Marquette neighborhood and hope to create a bar that is accessible to the surrounding neighborhood while also seizing on the rising activity in the Capitol East District. Gentry opened One Barrel Brewing on Atwood Avenue in 2012, while Sullivan is a longtime business owner with three other hospitality establishments in greater Madison.  Continue reading

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

Opening Set for Grampa’s

Paint and then patrons only left for new late-night pizza establishment

With the opening of Grampa’s Pizzeria only weeks away Owner and Chef Gilbert Altschul is focusing on the final details. The building, which was formerly Grandpa’s Gun Shop, has undergone quite the transformation in the past few months. Fresh drywall adorns every flat surface, newly stained cedar siding gives the building fresh pop, and an arty sculpture-like metal sign hangs above the front window which features a large flower box overflowing with fresh greenery.

The day I visited for an update, the din of construction was emanating from the restaurant, and I found Gilbert and Bar Manager Josh Swentzel in the backyard conducting an interview with a potential waitress.  Continue reading

Grampa’s Pizzeria is Open Late

Grandson to add panache, build brand around bar-born family recipe

Gilbert Altschul is opening Grampa’s Pizzeria in the former space of Larry Gleasman’s Grampa’s Gun Shop.

One of Willy Street’s longtime artisans has quietly retired as Larry Gleasman recently closed his gunsmithing business, Grampa’s Gun Shop at 1374 Williamson Street, after 30 years. Gilbert Altschul, who grew up just a few blocks away, plans to re-invigorate the location and open Grampa’s Pizzeria honoring his own grandfather, using the elder’s pizza recipe that delighted his family for years.

Gilbert’s late grandfather, William VandeHey, first created his hand-rolled pizzas while serving in the Air Force in the 1950s and ‘60s. During that time, he opened a bar and eventually sold the pies out of his establishment for a few dollars apiece. The recipe would live on at family events, and Gilbert learned how to prepare the pizza from his dad, Dan Altschul, who had learned it from William.  Continue reading