Waterfront Fest Opens ‘Big Four’ Festival Season

Courtesy: David Michael Miller

Summer in the meteorological sense may have started a month ago, but the summer festival season here on the near-east side of Madison is about to get underway. The Marquette Waterfront Festival at Yahara Place Park is this Saturday and Sunday (June 9-10), the first of four major festivals in the neighborhood that are the toast of the city. 

The event, organized by the Marquette Neighborhood Association, had small beginnings but have grown exponentially and are a unique display of neighborhood togetherness and open arms to the rest of the city. With an eclectic mix of activities, bands, food, and wares for sale, there is plenty to keep you around all day and coming back the next.

Feats of Strength

Dandelion Dash. Courtesy: MNA

Approximately 20 years ago my father started organizing the Dandelion Dash, now a yearly tradition on the Saturday of the event, to offer local road race since none are traditionally held in the neighborhood. It offered a 10K, 5K, 1 mile, and the best event of all the Dash (200 meters) for those five and under. The Dash was so fun to watch because the kids were so unpredictable once the race began. Some would run all the way, others would run but forward then a hard right to a waiting parent. One would always run three steps and sit down. You can contact the race director here to sign-up or to volunteer.

A newer activity, at least to me, is the Canoe Race at noon Saturday (Contact race official John Haugen-Wente 241-0619). They welcome all boating configurations (adult/child, all-women, all-men, soloists, and kayakers). A river parade, sponsored by the River Alliance. will precede the event and feature decorated water craft and a floating band. And don’t forget about the coed volleyball tournament on Saturday as well.

Bring your empty belly and your dancing shoes (optional)

The heart of the fest is the food and music. Crystal Corner Bar will operate the beer

March Fourth Marching Band will perform on Sunday June 10, 2012 at the MNA Waterfront Festival

stands, the Wil-Mar Center will be dispensing Brats, Burgers, even the veggie kind. Plus other area favorites: Lao Laan-Xang, Glass Nickel Pizza, Plaka Taverna, Café Costa Rica, Jamerica, Bunky’s, Nutcracker Sweet and The Chocolate Shoppe.

Eleven bands are booked over the two days of the festival with world music featured on Saturday: El Clan Destino, Phat Phunktion, Dendê Macedo, De Temps Antan, Dengue Fever.

Sunday is more Americana-style music featuring: Bonobo Secret Handshake, Icarus Himself, Shannon McNally and Hot Sauce, Paul Cebar and Tomorrow Sound, Rubblebucket, MarchFourth.

Complete information about the Waterfront Festival at Yahara Place Park can be found on MNA’s website.


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