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In Living

Mitchell Street has a lot to celebrate these days.

Sun Fair to shine on Mitchell Street


After a 20-year absence, the Historic Mitchell Street Sun Fair is once again rising. The free street festival will take place from Friday, June 3 to Sunday, June 5 on Mitchell Street between 8th and 10th Streets.

The event will run from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Friday; from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturday and from noon to 8 p.m. on Sunday. It will feature carnival rides, games, food from a wide variety of Latin, Polish, "American" and Indian vendors, an open mic, dance performances by Folklorico Mexico and Academia de Danza Mexico and more.

"The Sun Fair was the largest South Side street festival, but volunteers got older or moved away from the street and the festival just went by the wayside," says Ron Giguere, the president of the Mitchell Street BID.

Giguere says he was inspired to stoke up the Sun Fair's fires after finding old newspaper clippings about the fair while cleaning out the attic above the BID office, 1635 S. 8th St.

"I thought to myself that (The Sun Fair) never should have stopped. Like the Brady Street Festival, it needs to return. So, we decided to bring it back," he says.

St. Anthony's and St. Stanislaus, two historic churches on the two-block stretch, will participate in the fair by giving tours. A priest from St. Anthony's will kick off the festival on Friday night with a blessing.

Mitchell Street Days will also return this summer and continue two more times in 2011. The first will coincide with The Sun Fair, and then two more are scheduled for later in the year, once during the Mitchell Street Classic Car Show on September 11 and again in early winter. Mitchell Street Days celebrates the street's merchants and restaurants and, during the summer and fall event, invites the shops to sell on the sidewalk.

Giguere is already looking toward the future, and says next summer they plan to extend the Sun Fair to include 11th Street.

"We are bringing back 'neighborhoodism:' where people meet under great circumstances," he says.

Giguere says Mitchell Street is flourishing and welcomed five new businesses in April. Plus, there are three large projects also in the works, including a deal to reopen Goldmann's Department Store.

"We're getting very close," he says. "We are in negotiations and we are firm that this has to reopen as Goldmann's, complete with the lunch counter, the candy department, all of it."

Giguere says Mitchell Street has always been his favorite street in the city. He was first introduced to it many years ago when he worked in the fixture industry and sold to Goldmann's.

Giguere would not comment on the other two projects that are in the works for the block, but said that it appears something new will open, inside the old Meuer's Bakery on 6th Street.

"We're returning Mitchell Street to the Golden Era," he says. "We have a lot of new storefronts but we still want to appear vintage. We are HISTORIC Mitchell Street."

Recently, new harp-shaped streetlights were installed on the street and Giguere says the street now has the most candle power in the city. New street banners were also installed.

"There is a lot of positive stuff going on here," he says. "We opened five new stores this month. That's a lot of stores for an old street. They always say you can't go back, but if you have the desire, you can."


Talkbacks

petey7777 | May 28, 2011 at 12:58 p.m. (report)

I have moved from Milwaukee a few years back due to work, but come back and visit often. I get so homesick when I read articles like this. I just love that this festival is coming back and I wish I could be there to attend. This is what makes Milwaukee so great!!! Kudos to those of you who have taken the time and effort to revive this festival. It is people like you that make Milwaukee one of the best places in America to live. My hat goes off to you. Keep up the great work!!!

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