Chilly Fun at the Gathering Waters Festival
I've been looking forward to this summer.
I was hoping that being an OnMilwaukee.com intern, along with all of my other summer activities (as well as being about to enter my senior of college), I would be able to learn a lot of things about my city and hopefully, about myself. What have my first two OnMilwaukee.com events taught me? I need to get over myself.
As I mentioned in my last post, I'm a self-proclaimed weather wuss. I tend to stay away from things if the weather is too hot or too cold, too this or too that - I'm going to happily christen this "Goldilocks syndrome." Earlier in the week, this picky tendency would have kept me away from hearing a terrific band; today, it would have kept me away from a totally amazing festival in one of the coolest spots in Milwaukee.
Gathering Waters is a fairly new festival to the Milwaukee area in only its second year running, but what I saw today was a terrific family event with so much room for additional community involvement. The entire festival is free and this year was also partnered with the US Forest Service to make it a national "Get Outdoors Day." Well, there's definitely a lot of opportunity for outdoor play at this festival.
Next to our table set up - which was chock full of chances to win Summerfest tickets, festival schedules and other goodies - was Laser Tag Anywhere, who had set up an elaborate and free outdoor laser tag course. We widdled away the hours chatting with festival goers about the pros and cons of Milwaukee summers, favorite fests and up-and-coming Summerfest bands, and watching teams of excited kids and their equally as excited parents run around the course, shooting, ducking and beeping as they raced for the high score. On the other end of the park from us, a Rock Wall had been set up where kids and adults could scramble to the top. And those who wanted to leave land? Boat tours around Lake Michigan as well as kayak trips around the lagoon between the park and Summerfest were widely available. Seeing people afloat in the lagoon was a very calming sight - the lagoon was big enough to not bump boats with your neighbors, but small and isolated enough so that it still gave the feel of away-from-the-city nature (despite the music of Pridefest bumping next door).
Along with a slew of other vendors who were set to help you discover all sorts of different things - from facets of Milwaukee culture, to new forms of art, to nature with a whole plethora of animals - was my personal favorite vendor: Gift of Wings, or as they're commonly known, "That Kite Store at Veteran's Park." They provided several large-scale kites that hovered over the festival grounds for the duration of the event. My personal favorite for most of the festival was a giant octopus kite, although once the boldly green frog kite was taken out - and most importantly, once I was allowed to fly it, my loyalites quickly changed. While we got people entered to win Summerfest tickets and informed them about our amazing Music Crawl coming up June 25, we found ourselves ooo-ing and ahh-ing as kites swooped overhead. I personally spent far too much time cooing over a man flying the world's smallest kite*.
Despite the nippy weather that reduced me to wearing two sweatshirts in June, the festival was still fantastic. I recommend anyone - especially families, but also just anyone who loves outdoor fun - add it to their calendar of events for next year. Me? I'll be there for sure, OMC booth or no, rain or shine. If you missed out this year, check out video of the festival here.
For those of you who want to check out more great OnMilwaukee.com events, you can follow my intern team to several this next week: Jazz in the Park on Thursday, June 16 and Hart Fest on Friday, June 17. For those of you who missed us at Gathering Waters, we can help you navigate your Milwaukee summer, get you entered to win free Summerfest tickets and send you away with some handy goodies. See you soon, Milwaukee!
*This might not have actually been the smallest kite in the world, but it was still pretty cute. (And at least smaller than my fist!)