all Together Now!

Middleton Good Neighbor Festival Announces 2021 Theme

Thanks to the increased availability of vaccines and lower rates of community spread, the Good Neighbor Festival (GNF) Board of Trustees feels optimistic about the prospects of holding an in-person event on August 27-29, 2021.

The GNF trustees have selected “All Together Now” as the theme for the 2021 festival to recognize the ways in which people have helped each other over the past year and to help inspire Middleton’s path forward as we recover from the pandemic.

This year will mark the 58th annual Good Neighbor Festival.  Since the 2020 event could only be held virtually, Mark Opitz will serve as Festival President again in 2021, with Courtney Reichard continuing as President-elect. 

“The Good Neighbor Festival is just the type of event that will help the Middleton community come together again after a year of having to keep apart,” said Opitz. “I am confident that we can plan a festival that will abide by any remaining Dane County public health guidelines while still providing a safe opportunity for the social interaction and human contact that we have been missing.”

GNF will be held at Fireman’s Park, adjacent to Middleton High School. Since 1964, people from Middleton and surrounding areas have enjoyed live music, carnival rides, delicious food, activities for kids, the parade, the Art and Craft Fair, the 5K Run/Walk, and more. The festival is completely run by and for the benefit of several non-profit organizations serving the Middleton community.

Changes originally planned for the 2020 event will be implemented this year, including a return to individual food concessions run by festival trustee organizations.  The festival is also planning to adopt an “open campus“ concept in 2021, allowing alcoholic beverages purchased on the grounds to be consumed in a larger area, instead of being limited to two separate beer tents. 

William “Sonny” Simon VFW Post 8216 and Middleton Youth Hockey will operate individual beer stands as in the past, with the VFW focusing on domestic beer and Hockey featuring craft beer options.  Free live entertainment will be presented on a single stage located in between the beer stands. The lineup is still being finalized, but festival organizers expect many favorites to perform.

In addition to providing more space to avoid crowding, this approach also will allow patrons to enjoy the many food and drink offerings and activities of the Festival while choosing either to be close to live music or farther away to allow for more conversation with their families and friends. A wristband system will be used to prevent underage consumption of alcohol. 

The Board of Trustees will of course continue to monitor the public health situation and will finalize protocols as the event gets closer.  While we certainly hope to avoid having to cancel any activities, it may be necessary to limit capacity and require masks and physical distancing.  Our number one priority will be the safety of our guests and volunteers.

For the third consecutive year, Willy Street Co-op will be the festival’s Presenting Sponsor. Festival trustees are incredibly grateful for this enduring support. As in past years, trustees are seeking additional sponsors because they are critical to making this event possible.  

Registration for the Art and Craft Fair is now open at goodneighborfestival.com, and registration for the 5K and Parade will open soon.  Check the website and follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to keep up with our 2021 plans. We look forward to celebrating in August, All Together Now!