Source: Lake Geneva Regional News

49th Venetian Festival under way

by Lisa Seiser

August 18, 2011

The 49th annual Venetian Festival opened Wednesday to nice crowds throughout the grounds.

The typical beer tent with live music, local fundraising food tents and carnival rides all were being enjoyed by many locals and vistors Wednesday evening.

But, there are a few new things. There are a couple more local organizations pitching their food tents to raise money and the Lake Geneva Police Department has upped its security and surveillance of the festivities both during the event and when the event is shut down.

Two cameras - one in the Kiddieland area and one near the gazebo in Flatiron Park - have been installed to help police keep a close eye on the areas. Dispatchers at the Police Department can monitor the video.

Police Chief Michael Rasmussen said Wednesday shortly after the ribbon was cut to officially open Venetian, the festival has always been very safe, but the cameras were available through the Walworth County Sheriff's Department, who received them using a Homeland Security grant. He said the use of the cameras will cost the city nothing and he believes it could help deter any possible problems.

During one of the first nights of the Wisconsin State Fair, there was an incident of a violent mob. Rasmussen said he doesn't anticipate any problems like that, but the cameras will be helpful.

They are located on the light generator tower poles and there is a sign on the generator that states the area is under surveillance.

Venetian Festival runs the remainder of the week, opening at 5 p.m. on the weeknights and open all day on the weekend and comes to a close with a real bang Sunday, Aug. 21.

Maintaining its stature as the longest running outdoor celebration in the city, the event is set again on 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.

The following is the schedule for entertainment at Venetian.

- 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.

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

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

- 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.

- 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.

The Lake Geneva 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.