UPDATE - Venetian Festival off to great start
August 19, 2010 | 01:14 PM
Many local residents poured into Flatiron and Seminary parks to enjoy the first night of Venetian Festival Wednesday evening.
Under clear skies and perfect temperatures, adults and children enjoyed the carnival rides, games and local food tents among other activities. The adults enjoyed the entertainment and beer tent.
The annual event, which has been held by the Lake Geneva Jaycees since 1962, runs through Sunday night with the culmination of the festivities a fireworks display over the clear waters of Geneva Lake just off the shore near the Library and Riviera Beach.
"Families from all over Southern Wisconsin and Northern Illinois have been visiting Lake Geneva for years to take part in the fun and excitement that the festival brings to town," said Matt Stinebrink, Venetian Festival chairman. "Each year we see more and more visitors enjoying the music, carnival, boat parade, fireworks and the many attractions the Lake Geneva area has to offer. And we're anticipating greater attendance this year due to the cancellation of Chicago's Venetian Festival."
Tonight, Thursday, Saddlebrook will take the stage from 8 p.m. to midnight, and it is another wristband discount night from 5 to 10 p.m. Friday, The Toys will play from 8 p.m. to midnight.
The festival is open all day Saturday and Sunday along with the Arts and Craft Fair in Library Park.
Entertainment Saturday includes a Baggo Tournament from noon to 4 p.m. The band Chasing Amy will perform from noon to 3 p.m. and the Love Monkeys will play from 8 p.m. to midnight. There also will be wristband discount rides from 5 to 10 p.m.
Sunday is the finale. The Wonder Lake Ski show will be at 6 p.m. The lighted boat parade starts at about dusk followed by the fireworks, which will be shot from a barge on the lake. Petty Thieves will play from 8 p.m. to midnight.
For Stinebrink and the other members of the Jaycees, it's about making the event memorable.
"Seeing the thousands of smiling faces lining the Geneva Lake shoreline makes all the hard work an afterthought," Stinebrink said.
Food from various local organizations, including Lions Club corn and teriyaki from the American Legion also will be available. The event also serves as fundraisers for those organizations.
The Jaycees founded the festival in 1962 and it now draws an estimated 50,000 during the five days as visitors from all across the country attend.
The event is the Jaycees' biggest fundraiser of the year. Net profits from the event, mainly the entertainment tent and carnival, are given back to local community organizations. Among those benefiting are the Lake Geneva Police and Fire departments, YMCA, Badger High School scholarships, Cub Scouts, United Way, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Beat the Heat, VIP Services, Special Olympics Dream Team, Adult Special Olympics, WC Food Pantry, Lake Geneva Food Pantry, SMILES and the Geneva Lake Water Safety Patrol.
The Lake Geneva Jaycees were founded in 1962 and is a group for people between the ages of 18 and 40. Members of the Jaycees are provided tools needed to build the bridges of success for themselves in the areas of business development, management and skills, individual training, community service and international connections.
The purpose of the Lake Geneva Jaycees is to become a force in the community, determining community needs and providing solutions by planning and facilitating community service projects. In the act of serving, members receive hands on experience, which translates to personal growth and the development of leadership skills.
Log onto www.lakegenevajaycees.org for more information about the Jaycees and Venetian Festival.