Schrader-less Rendezvous starts July 4
By Gene Kemmeter
Stevens Point will observe its 35th annual Riverfront Rendezvous Thursday, July 4, through Saturday, July 7, and it will be the first one without Tom Schrader in some sort of supervisory position. Schrader retired earlier this year as director of parks and recreation for Stevens Point.
The annual Rendezvous event grew out of Stevens Point’s observance of its 125th birthday, Point 125, in 1983. The idea was to celebrate the city’s history and have a little fun along the city’s riverfront, where the city had recently acquired land to link the area from the Clark Street bridge to Bukolt Park following several years of effort to do so.
The Junior Women’s Club led an effort to construct a bandshell in Pfiffner Pioneer Park, and the city took advantage of that to feature musical acts to perform during the event. A former warehouse, the Pfiffner Building, allowed smaller crowds to gather for entertainment, and tents were rented to provide cover for park visitors and entertainment from the sun and the rain.
The emphasis in the first years was old-fashioned activities, like a community walk, a children’s parade and bed races. But activities switched as participation dwindled, and only two of the original ones remain, children’s activities and the Carp Classic. The children’s activities are held in a separate tent along Crosby Avenue and include games, a magic show and other entertainment.
The Carp Classic began as an event to draw attention to a less-than-desirable fish in the Wisconsin River and an effort to reduce its numbers. The fishing activity has witnessed increased participation, with larger numbers of carp removed from the river each year, usually about a ton or more. This year, the Classic will kick off Rendezvous, starting at 8 a.m. until 2 p.m., with the Fourth of July Parade down Main Street at noon.
Each day there will be a Timberworks Lumberjack Show in the Family Zone, an Emergency Vehicle Display on Saturday, plus a Trivia Contest Thursday, a horseshoe tournament Saturday at Mead Park and a Poetry Slam Saturday.
Of course, there’s music, lots of music. Music has been a featured attraction since Rendezvous started, and there’s music to feed nearly every taste: rockabilly, folk rock, roots rock, rock, acoustic variety, country rock, alternative rock, bluegrass, country, rhythm and blues, blues, jam and funk.
The music is available in three venues, the Main Stage of the bandshell, North Tent and Pfiffner Building. People can move from one stage to another to hear different styles. The Main Stage features the major acts, while the North Tent caters to lesser-known acts that are usually crowd-pleasers. The Pfiffner Building hosts the more eclectic acts.
Probably the best thing about Rendezvous is the cost, there is no entry fee because funding comes from donations, as well as revenue from the various food and refreshment stands on the grounds. That’s why officials ask visitors to refrain from bringing refreshments onto the grounds, so revenues can continue to sustain the event.
This is a chance to enjoy the Fourth of July weekend, especially the Saturday night lighted boat parade and fireworks.