Celebration of nation’s independence offers local spin
By Gene Kemmeter
The Fourth of July is next Wednesday, and Stevens Point will get a jump on the celebration of the independence of the United States starting Friday, June 29.
Riverfront Rendezvous, the city’s annual party along the Wisconsin River, is back for its 34th year. Known as “The Small Gig” in comparison to “The Big Gig” nickname applied to Summerfest in Milwaukee, Rendezvous is a small-town event in Pfiffner Pioneer Park that offers a wide variety of musical entertainment and other activities aimed at family fun. Stevens Point celebration of its 125th birthday in 1983 inspired the creation of the event that became Riverfront Rendezvous in 1985.
While the true meaning of the holiday has gotten lost because so many people take our freedom for granted, there are plenty of local opportunities to get into a festive mood and enjoy the activities in the area.
Rendezvous is a family affair, and there’s plenty for children of all ages to do. There’s the Carp Classic Fishing Contest, bingo, the Horseshoe Tournament in Mead Park, the Trivia Contest, Emergency Vehicle Display, Poetry Reading, and children’s science and magic programs on Saturday; and Kids Day games and the lighted boat parade followed by fireworks on Sunday.
The musical entertainment tries to provide something for almost everyone’s taste. There’s rock, country, pop/rock, bluegrass, funk, reggae, rhythm and blues, roots rock, folk and looping, dub, funk. The music is featured in three venues, the Main Stage, North Tent and Pfiffner Building, so people can move from one to the other to sample the various styles. This year’s featured act is The Original Wailers, the original backing group of Bob Marley and the Wailers at 9 p.m. Friday.
The Main Stage features the major acts, while the North Tent caters to lesser-known acts that are crowd-pleasers. The Pfiffner Building is home to the more eclectic acts performing music that usually draws a smaller following.
There’s also the annual St. Mary of Mount Carmel Catholic Church picnic on Sunday, July 1, on the church grounds in the town of Stockton, one of many church picnics in the area throughout the summer. The event features picnic events, as well as a traditional chicken dinner and polka dancing.
The village of Amherst will hold a parade and fireworks at the fairgrounds on the Fourth of July; Downtown Point will host the annual Stevens Point Fourth of July Parade in the downtown at 11 a.m.; and the annual New Hope Firecracker Parade will be held at 2 p.m. in the town of New Hope. Amherst also has a chicken dinner and some family activities at the Fairgrounds.
Rosholt will hold its annual fireworks (weather permitting) Saturday night, July 7.
Enjoy yourself at the celebrations. Just remember the lawn chair, suntan lotion and insect repellent. The last item may be the most important. Wisconsin’s mosquito population is multiplying and loves crowds, and residents of the Northwoods are telling horror stories about the voracity of the insect this season. And this weekend’s weather is supposed to be muggylicious.