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Northwestern Mutual continues to rise here in Milwaukee and across the country. Its annual convention opens this week.
Northwestern Mutual continues to rise here in Milwaukee and across the country. Its annual convention opens this week.

Welcome, Northwestern Mutual

We trumpet Harley-Davison's anniversaries, as we should.  But, Northwestern Mutual has a track record that goes back 159 years in Milwaukee.  Yep, next year marks 160! 

Today the company is a worldwide brand and this week it opens its annual "Meeting of the Association of Agents."

That's right, 159 years in business and 136 years of annual meetings. Indeed, Northwestern Mutual will hold its 136th Annual Meeting of the Association of Network Representatives in Milwaukee, July 23-27. 

The event should draw nearly 10,000 people from across the country, comprising members of Northwestern Mutual and their families. The company’s annual meeting will have an estimated economic impact of approximately $12.9 million for the local economy and guests will fill about 13,800 hotel room nights.   

New this year, and to help welcome the NM family from all over the country, VISIT Milwaukee will move its new interactive art piece, the six-foot "Me in MKE" statue, to the outside front entrance of the Wisconsin Center on 4th Street and Wisconsin Avenue.

The statue invites visitors to stand in and form the letter "K" and is part of a new hands-on component to help increase engagement and awareness of VISIT Milwaukee's mission to both locals and visitors. Lines could be seen for the photo op with the statue at Summerfest, with users tagging their photos with the hashtag #MeInMKE.

"We are thrilled to welcome Northwestern Mutual back to Milwaukee once again," said Paul Upchurch, president and CEO of VISIT Milwaukee. "Northwestern Mutual represents the largest convention of our year and has a tremendous impact on our area's economy. We look forward to welcoming the thousands of attendees to Milwaukee and creating great experiences for them while they're here."

Agents and their families flock to Milwaukee every year, and each year I love the buzz that's created by adding nearly 10,000 visitors to Downtown Milwaukee.

As part of the annual meeting, some agent offices are rais…

A trail of bagels on Mason Street in Downtown Milwaukee on July 14 at 7:45 a.m.
A trail of bagels on Mason Street in Downtown Milwaukee on July 14 at 7:45 a.m. (Photo: Staff Writers)

Downtown's trails of bagels bewilder

Is it a creative, artistic expression?

An innovative way to feed the seagulls?

Maybe even a small way to assist those who are hungry?

Heck, maybe it’s just littering. Simply garbage and an easy, lazy way to discard last night’s bakery?

No matter what, Downtown Milwaukee has a steady stream of bagel and breadcrumb drops. Several residents in the neighborhood tell me that streets and bridges are regularly laced with bakery items several times a week. And it’s been happening for months.

One resident told me that the trails of bagels "go in spurts." Sometimes every other day, then nothing for a couple weeks.

Bread or bagels often line Mason Street, the Wisconsin Avenue bridge, the Wells Street bridge and many parts of the Riverwalk.

"They always look fresh," added the resident who didn't want to be named.

What’s up with this, Milwaukee? Is it a coordinated, ongoing effort?

Curious minds want to know.

Summerfest shined bright this year.
Summerfest shined bright this year.

I miss you already, Summerfest

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There’s something missing this week in Wisconsin. 

You guessed it: the energy, buzz and excitement that only Summerfest brings. As the state’s economic and entertainment center, Milwaukee gets most of the Big Gig rewards and love – as it should. But with healthy arteries and strong suburbs, everyone wins when Milwaukee’s Summerfest shines.

And shine it did this year. Wow. Near-perfect weather. An amazing line up and new stuff galore to entice us all.

At OnMilwaukee, we’re honored to support, sponsor, cover and partner with Summerfest.  It’s a civic responsibility, quite frankly, and this season, we stepped it up with Summerfest emojis, sponsorship at the BMO Harris Pavilion and unsurpassed team coverage.

I love Summerfest and always have. There’s nothing like it and nothing else that can draw nearly 100,000 additional people daily to our Downtown for 11 straight days. 

The festival creates jobs, civic pride and increased connections to other parts of the city. It’s a beacon that brings people together.  

A few of my highlights this year?

  • The daily traffic jams in Downtown. I always love this. We need it, and it helps showcase how all types of transit make our city go. It also forces us all to slow down. 
  • Speaking of transit types, Bublr was a highlight this year. Discovery World helped with a new station, and while I would rather see a station closer to the main gate, it was great to have this option – especially for quick lunch trips to the fest.
  • Going without an agenda. For the final Saturday, we went without a specific "who to see" plan. It was great. Highly recommended.
  • Taking the kids. Still not a big fan of kids after 7:30 p.m. or so, but if you have little ones in your life, Summerfest is a bla…
Jimmy Butler holds up his diploma from Marquette University.
Jimmy Butler holds up his diploma from Marquette University. (Photo: Marquette University )

"I love Milwaukee," says Jimmy Butler

I’ve never met Jimmy Butler, but I'm pretty sure I love him. Love the way he plays and – of course – love that he’s a Marquette guy. I’d also love to see him, someday, somehow, in a Bucks uniform. It’s NBA Draft night, so... maybe a trade? A fan can dream, right?  

I also, as you may know, really like Bill Simmons’ stuff. His podcasts are great, and I’m digging The Ringer and his new HBO show "Any Given Wednesday." I’ve never met Simmons, either, but the guy also seems to love Milwaukee – or at least appreciate our character, sports fandom and what I also like to call our lack of pretense. He’s a Boston guy, after all. His hometown is another sports crazed city that suffers through snow and cold to seriously celebrate summer.

Anyway, check out this recent Simmons’ podcast with Jimmy Butler. 

It was recorded before the Bulls traded Derrick Rose, so some of the talk about his team may seem dated. But more importantly and germane to us here in Milwaukee, it includes several Marquette and Milwaukee mentions. Butler says several times, "I love Milwaukee," and he cites his years at and degree from Marquette University, as well as mentioning that the BMO Harris Bradley Center is his favorite place to play. Simmons also says nice things about Milwaukee, our sports fandom and NBA players from Marquette.

Milwaukee and Marquette coming together on one podcast. I love it. You will, too. Especially if you’re a hoops fan, as Butler’s one of the best.

And finally, congrats to Jimmy Butler for making the U.S. Olympic team. Let's get gold this summer in Rio.