Source: Lake Geneva Regional News

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Preparing for 49th Venetian Festival

August 11, 2011

The biggest annual event in Lake Geneva is celebrating Venetian Festival's 49th year, as it kicks off Wednesday, Aug. 17, and finishes with a bang Sunday, Aug. 21.

Maintaining its stature as the longest running outdoor celebration in the city, the event is set again for the shore of Geneva Lake in Flatiron Park with additional activities in Seminary and Library parks. Sponsored by the Lake Geneva Jaycees, the five-day festival features a carnival, craft fair, live music, water ski show, a lighted boat parade and fireworks display.

Preparations will culminate Tuesday as Jaycees members work the day getting Flatiron Park ready for the festivities.

Jaycees Secretary Jeremy Kinsey, who serves on the Venetian Board, said Tuesday is the "big set up day." He said the day starts with breakfast at about 6 a.m. and then from there, about eight or nine Jaycees members will spend the day on the grounds. Although there are several professional services who help with some of the big items, the Jaycees must put up the fencing and signs, set up the bar and make sure everything else is being prepared without a hitch.

"It all seems to come together," Kinsey said. "It's a lot of work and you get pretty burned out at the end."

But Kinsey said it is all worth it — especially watching the people enjoy all events.

"Before I was involved, I never realized what it took to put this on — I just thought the city did it," Kinsey said. "But, with all the work that is put in, my favorite part is to see the smiles."

He said he sees people enjoying themselves, from kids on the rides or watching the fireworks to the 78-year-old lady who busts a move watching an afternoon band at the beer tent.

The following is the schedule for entertainment at Venetian.

n Wednesday, Aug. 17 — Big Al Wetzel and Bushwood Allstars from 9 p.m. to midnight with a $3 cover. Wristband discount rides 5 to 10 p.m., $20.

n Thursday, Aug. 18 — Petty Thieves from 8 p.m. to midnight with $3 cover. Wristband discount rides 5 to 10 p.m. for $20.

n Friday, Aug. 19 — The Toys, 8 p.m. to midnight, $5 cover.

n Saturday, Aug. 20 — Baggo Tournament, noon to 3 p.m.; SLM Jam Band from noon to 3 p.m. with no cover; Dot Dot Dot, 8 p.m. to midnight; Wristband discount rides noon to 5 p.m., $20; and Arts and Craft Fair during the day.

n Sunday, Aug. 21 — Tom Brusky Variety Polka Band, noon to 3 p.m.; Arts and Crafts Fair during the day; Chasing Amy, 8 p.m. to midnight, $3 cover; Wonder Lake Ski show at 6 p.m.; and Lighted boat parade and fireworks display over the lake at dusk.

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.

After it's over, members spend much of Monday doing the opposite of what they did the previous Tuesday.

Kinsey said organizing the event is getting easier. Apparently, the older members of the club are creating what they are calling a Venetian "bible" so all different types of preparations for the event are on paper for future Jaycees members.

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. Log onto www.lakegenevajaycee.org for more information about the Jaycees and Venetian Festival.