A well-established festival in De Pere has chosen a new base of operations for 2019. Kris Schuller reports organizers of Celebrate De Pere are moving that festival from Voyageur Park to the Brown County Fairgrounds.
Since 1990 the Celebrate De Pere board have held their annual Memorial Day weekend festival at De Pere’s Voyageur Park. But after months of discussions the group’s president says it has been decided its time to move elsewhere.
“The 2019 event will be at the Brown County Fairgrounds,” said Jeff Tilkens. “We’re still working on some minor details, but we have committed to moving over there.
Tilkens says Voyageur has been a good home for this family- friendly event which serves as a large fundraiser for local non-profits. But one with a number of issues.
“Logistical issues have been hindering us for a long time, things like parking, handicapped access. The last few years safety at events have been a big thing,” said Tilkens.
The board president says the fairgrounds have more space, giving the festival room to grow. Problems like a lack of parking are few and any issues that may still pop up can be easily solved.
“It is a giant park built for events,” said Tilkens.
And while that all makes sense to De Pere’s mayor, he says it hurts knowing thousands of people won’t be spending Memorial Day weekend in the city’s downtown.
“Was I happy with the decision? No, but I understand and recognize the reasons why they are going to do this,” said Mayor Mike Walsh.
“It was a really tough decision. It always has been. Voyageur Park has been our home for 28 years now,” Tilkens added.
Mayor Walsh says the city will still work with Celebrate De Pere to make their festival a success. And the Kiwanis Club of De Pere will continue to hold their annual Memorial Day parade.