If you are going to the United Church of Christ General Synod in June, you don't want to miss a chance to take in one of Milwaukee's mightiest ways of celebrating summer.
"Milwaukee is a city of outdoor festivals which we often call 'Fests,'" said the Rev. William Utke, pastor of Emanuel Church, Hales Corners, UCC, and one of the coordinators of the Sunday event. "From smaller neighborhood fests, to larger ethnic and musical festivals, the people of Milwaukee make the most of the outdoors through these celebration events. We hope to meet General Synod visitors at the UCC's Shine! Fest."
The Shine! Festival is slated for Sunday, June 23, from 4:30 - 8:30 pm in Milwaukee's Zeidler Union Square. Rev. Utke is planning the event with his wife Ann, who is serving as interim pastor, St. John's UCC, Random Lake, Wisconsin. The couple has developed a reputation as festivalgoers around town and are working now to line up both food and entertainment.
"Ann and I are very excited to offer this opportunity celebrating some of Milwaukee's diversity and the radical Wisconsin welcome we want the UCC delegates, staff members, special guests and visitors to experience," Bill Utke said.
The fun starts Sunday afternoon after the community worship service, just one block south of the convention center in Milwaukee's first park. More than a half-dozen food trucks will be parked around Zeidler Union Square, offering festival-goers a variety of local dining options. Beer, wine and other beverages will be available from Milwaukee County Park vendors.
As for entertainment, there will be live music on the gazebo stage featuring regional artists throughout the evening. From 5–6:30 pm, enjoy the sounds of The Squeezettes, who honor Wisconsin's German heritage through their unique and raucous power polka, waltz, pop and rock tunes. The headline act, featuring members of the band De La Buena, led by Cecilio Negron Jr. of CNJ Latin Jazz, takes the stage from 7-8:30 p.m.
"Festivals have long been a major part of the cultural, social and economic fabric of Milwaukee," Bill Utke said. "Following the turmoil and rapid change of the post-war years, the 'City of Festivals' concept truly emerged, as the city leaders recognized the value of promoting unity, music and merriment for the community and its visitors. Our urban vitality is reflected in these events, such as the 11-day Summerfest, an attraction for over 50 years."
Attendance to the Shine! Fest is free and open to all. All ages are welcome. There will be a family game area, table space and tented areas located on the park grounds, as well as portable restrooms.
"Plan to grab a bite, stay a while, groove in your dancing shoes and enjoy this slice of the Wisconsin good life," Bill Utke said. "Come rain or shine, it's just a short stroll to a fun time."