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Friday, 14 August 2015 10:22

Celebrate summer at Venetian Festival 2015 in Lake Geneva

Written by  Dennis Hines
Fireworks over Geneva Lake are a highlight of Venetian Festival in Lake Geneva, which runs Wednesday, Aug. 19, through Sunday, Aug 23. The fireworks start around dusk on Sunday, Aug. 23. For more details, go online to venetianfest.com. Fireworks over Geneva Lake are a highlight of Venetian Festival in Lake Geneva, which runs Wednesday, Aug. 19, through Sunday, Aug 23. The fireworks start around dusk on Sunday, Aug. 23. For more details, go online to venetianfest.com. File photo by Terry Mayer

WALWORTH COUNTY SUNDAY -- Music, food, carnival rides and a little bit of history are some of the things that will be featured during this year’s Venetian Festival, set for Wednesday, Aug. 19, through Sunday, Aug. 23.

The festival, hosted by the Lake Geneva Jaycees, will be held from 5 p.m. to midnight Wednesday through Friday and from noon to midnight Saturday and Sunday. Some of the highlights include the water ski show, craft fair, beer tent, bags tournament, brat tent and fireworks display. Live music will be provided by Bella Cain, Cherry Pie, The Love Monkeys, Fresh Hops Band, The Acoustic Generation, Too White Crew, Lake Geneva House of Music and Christopher’s Project.

“There’s quite a bit of activities that go on during the five-day period,” said Ryan Stelzer, Venetian Festival co-chair.

One of the more popular attractions is the lighted boat parade, set for dusk on Sunday, Aug. 23. The theme for this year’s boat parade is “Boogie Lights -- A Tribute to the ’70s.”

“We usually get between 20 to 30 boats,” Stelzer said.

This year’s festival includes the Tales of Lake Geneva event, hosted by the Lake Geneva Historic Preservation Commission, at 1 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 23, at Horticultural Hall, 330 Broad St. The event will include information about historical figures of Lake Geneva from the 1930s to the 1950s.

Panel speakers will include:

• Burly Brellenthin, owner of a Chevy dealership in Lake Geneva and a civic leader of the community.

• Muriel Malsch, a member of the Malsch family and longtime employee of First National Bank in Lake Geneva.

• Colleen Alexander, a member of the Minehan family and a longtime Lake Geneva official.

• Clyde Boutelle, a member of the Boutelle family who played football and basketball at Lake Geneva High School in the late 1940s and early 1950s. Boutelle’s grandfather, Daniel Boutelle, fought in the Civil War.

• Fritz Button, a member of the Button family and an ice boat racer.

“Five years have lapsed since the last time we’ve done Tales of Lake Geneva,” said Patrick Quinn of the Lake Geneva Historic Preservation Commission. “With the passing of time, we want to have audible stories about these people before they are lost forever.”

Quinn said he is familiar with several of the people who will be featured at the program.

“All of these people have been dedicated to Lake Geneva,” Quinn said. “They’ve been a part of the city’s history.”

Quinn said the last time the historic commission hosted a Tales of Lake Geneva program, it was well attended.

“The last time we did it, people talked about it for months,” he said. “We hope that’s what happens this time around. It’s a cool event.”

Venetian Festival itself is more than 50 years old -- 53 to be exact.

“I would say we have between 30,000 to 40,000 people who attend the five-day festival; obviously it’s weather-dependent,” Stelzer said.

Because of the popularity of the event, one of the concerns is parking. However, a city-run shuttle bus and private-hire taxi services are available for people who don’t want to worry about fighting the traffic.

“A lot of people come and stay in hotels. The city offers shuttle transportation from the Home Depot parking lot, so people don’t have to worry about parking,” Stelzer said. “A lot of taxis will shuttle people to the event.”

Venetian Festival proceeds are donated to local organizations and used for community activities.

“We usually donate to organizations that are looking for grants,” Stelzer said. “Last year, we donated to 30 different organizations, everything from the city to the police department and Special Olympics. We also donate to student organizations.

“For Thanksgiving, we purchase food for people in need. We also do a Christmas shopping program where we purchase gifts for about 120 kids. (The Jaycees) is a nonprofit organization that’s run by volunteers, who are putting on an event to raise money for good causes.”

For more information about Venetian Festival, go online to venetianfest.com.

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