Kemmeter Column: Rendezvous returns, so do other events
By Gene Kemmeter
Riverfront Rendezvous is back at Pfiffner Pioneer Park, and so are other Portage County Fourth of July celebrations after a year’s cancellations because of the coronavirus pandemic. Rendezvous has become Stevens Point’s annual party along the Wisconsin River, and the event grew out of Stevens Point’s celebration of its 125th birthday in 1983. It was officially named Riverfront Rendezvous in 1985 and has been called “The Small Gig” in comparison to “The Big Gig” name applied to Summerfest, the big city musical event in Milwaukee.
Summerfest was always held around the Fourth of July weekend until last year when it was also canceled and this year will be held in September, allowing extra time for the country to recover from the pandemic.
Rendezvous is a small-town event that is free of charge and offers a variety of musical entertainment and other activities aimed at family fun. There’s inflatable games and lumberjack shows Friday, Saturday and Sunday; a three-mile family fun walk at 11 a.m. Saturday; Kid’s Safety Day Saturday; a Cornhole Tournament Saturday; a Trivia Contest Saturday; the Carp Classic Saturday; and horseshoe tournaments for singles on Saturday and doubles on Sunday. Vendors, many of them nonprofit organizations, provide a variety of food and beverage opportunities.
The annual Fourth of July Parade will also be held Sunday, starting at noon at 1200 Main St. Parade units will travel west on Main Street to the Public Square. The musical entertainment tries to provide something for almost everyone’s taste. There’s rock, country, pop, blues, roots rock, bluegrass, rhythm and blues, soul rock, Americana, disco-funk- fusion and folk. 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.
The Main Stage features the major acts, while the North Tent caters to lesser-known acts that are usually crowd-pleasers. The Pfiffner Building is home to the more eclectic acts performing music that usually draws a smaller following.
Headlining the 9 p.m. Friday show on the Main Stage will be Horseshoes and Hand Grenades, a local band that has a beer (HHG) named after it brewed by Central Waters Brewing in Amherst.
This is the third appearance at Rendezvous and second on the Main Stage for the band that was organized by students at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point in 2009 and has made a name for itself nationally in the bluegrass field.
The entertainment has been an important attraction for the event. Many of the acts are up-and- coming on the musical scene. Often they were on their way to appearing at Summerfest or had already done so.
Fireworks launched from Mead Park across the Wisconsin River from Pfiffner Pioneer Park will start at dusk Sunday and close the weekend celebration.
The Amherst Lions Club will also present its annual fireworks show at dusk on July 4 at the Amherst Fairgrounds in Amherst.
The Pines 4th of July Extravaganza will be held Friday, July 2, and Saturday, July 3, at the Rosholt Fair Park in Rosholt from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. each day. Fireworks will be held Saturday night at dusk.
The annual New Hope Firecracker Parade may also be held Sunday, July 4, in the town of New Hope, but no one is ever sure. Neighbors say it is likely to happen this year after a year’s absence.
The parade started as a neighborhood get-together in 1971 in a field in the town when someone suggested a parade. After a theme was decided, neighbors rushed home for costumes, vehicles, trailers and props, then paraded around the neighborhood, stopping at South New Hope Lutheran Church about 2 p.m. at the corner of County Trunk T and Lake Road in the town of New Hope.
The units usually perform skits at the church, providing entertainment for the crowd that gathers there. Judges then determine who will receive “The Paper Plate,” a decorated paper plate awarded to the top performing groups each year.
The celebrations allow everyone to enjoy themselves. Just remember the lawn chair, suntan lotion and insect repellent. The last item may be the most important. After last weekend’s weather, Wisconsin’s mosquito population is undoubtedly multiplying, and everyone remembers they love crowds.