Representatives of member organizations work together each year to make changes that will enhance the experience for festival-goers. This year, there will be a single stage for bands with most food and beverage stands located within a much larger fence perimeter. This will make it easier to eat and drink at the same time while choosing whether to enjoy bands up close or as a background to conversations.
Festival planners have developed a strong safety plan. Those purchasing beer or wine will receive a wristband after presenting a valid ID. The crowd will be monitored to ensure that no one is drinking without a wristband. Police officers and professional security will be on site at night, just as in past years. Exits will be monitored to ensure no one leaves the fenced area with alcohol.
The Festival’s insurer, as well as City of Middleton officials, are fully aware of and receptive to the changes being made. Other area events, such as Waunafest and Brat Fest, follow a similar configuration.
The Festival and its member organizations have enjoyed strong community support over the years, even during last year’s largely virtual event. We know that Middleton area residents and visitors are craving to gather again in person, and we are confident that the community will welcome and enjoy the enhancements being made to this year’s festival. Our band line-up this year is outstanding! The festival’s website, www.goodneighborfestival.com, has all the latest updates.
We invite all area residents and visitors to join us August 27-29 at Firemen’s Park as we gather in the spirit of this year’s festival theme, “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.
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!
It wasn’t the festival that any of the organizers envisioned when planning began for the 2020 Good Neighbor Festival, and the theme “2020 Vision: A Middleton Spectacle” was chosen. But the very first (and hopefully last!) Virtual Good Neighbor Festival still provided an opportunity for the Festival Trustee Organizations to raise needed funds as well as bringing the community together for fun activities. The Virtual Fest also sustained the legacy of this important community event, which has brought good neighbors together since 1964.
Presenting sponsor Willy Street Co-op provided critical support. In addition to a generous financial contribution, Willy Street donated over $5,000 in prizes and silent auction items to the festival. Many other sponsors and individuals stepped up too. While final numbers are still being tallied, the virtual Festival likely brought in over $25,000 in proceeds to support the Festival’s non-profit trustee organizations.
The Good Neighbor Awards have been part of the Festival since 1980, and this year was no exception. Bartlett Durand, Adrienne Hulburt-Stroud, Josh Marron, Jeff and Jan Martin, and Stephanie Mueller were all recognized for their outstanding contributions to the community. All will be invited to participate in the 2021 Good Neighbor Festival Parade.
A number of Middleton restaurants partnered with the Festival to present Middleton Restaurant Week. Many of the restaurants offered specials benefiting the trustee organizations, and all provided patrons with opportunities to donate. Restaurant Week gave these important community businesses an opportunity to showcase their safety protocols, and the many ways to enjoy their offerings.
Stone Horse Green in downtown Middleton was the hub of operations for the Virtual Fest, with trustees staffing a table each night collecting donations and publicizing the various activities. T-shirts were given to thank donors of $20 or more. There are still some T-shirts remaining, and anyone who is interested in making a donation should contact the festival at Middletongoodneighborfestival@gmail.com.
On Sunday afternoon, a Pun Slam was held in Stone Horse Green. 2020 Festival President Mark Opitz was the Master of Punnery, leading contestants through a series of challenges judged by Mike Davis, Kristi Warriner and Robert Mirshak. Former Middleton City Council Member Rob Conhaim came in first as the best punster, but all participants entertained the small, socially distant group of spectators.
There were fun activities for the entire family throughout the week. A scavenger hunt presented by TDS Telecom required participants to visit locations all over Middleton to take photos and answer questions about Middleton’s past and present. A description of the answers and a list of winners are at goodneighborfestival.com. Gerry Klump took first place with a perfect score, while the Petranek family was close behind in second place.
A talent contest was also held virtually, presented by Madison Gas and Electric. Judges selected finalists, who then competed for a public vote.The winners in each category included:
12 and Under: Addy and Maleah performing the song Wonderland, singing and playing ukelele
13-17: MHS Junior Avery Brutosky singing Part of your World from The Little Mermaid
18 and over: a tie between Steve & Nancy Kurr playing multiple string instruments, and Justin Fitzgerald singing What a Wonderful World
Videos of all the finalists are available on goodneighborfestival.com. All winners and finalists received Willy Street gift cards.
A virtual 5K was also organized, starting at Middleton High School, and ending at Fireman’s Park. Over 100 people entered the virtual 5K, and enjoyed running or walking the route during the week.
Many local businesses and art fair vendors provided great items for a silent auction, which raised over $4,000 for the festival trustees. Funds were also raised with online caricatures offered by Expressively You.
Finally, the virtual festival featured several entertaining online presentations, including magic from Festival favorite James the Magician, a themed story time from the Middleton Public Library, and yoga from Harbor Athletic Club & Wellness Studios. The videos were presented on the Festival’s Facebook page, and can still be viewed there or at goodneighborfestival.com.
The Festival Trustees are immensely grateful to the many businesses and individuals who contributed to making this a great week. They are looking ahead to, and already planning, an in person Festival on August 27-29, 2021!
Question 8: How many gallons of water per hour do the Pheasant Branch Springs contribute to Lake Mendota?
Answer: This one may have required some math! According to this sign in the Pheasant Branch Conservancy, the springs contribute 2.6 million gallons of water per day to Lake Mendota, which is 108,333 gallons per hour.
Question 9: What graduating class donated the sign in front of Middleton High School?
Answer: The sign in the area known as South Beach at Middleton High School was donated by the Class of 1998. The location also served as the starting point of our 2020 Virtual 5K Run/Walk.
Question 10: In what year was the Middleton Depot made a Middleton Landmark, and in what year was it added to the National Register of Historic Places?
Answer: According to the signs on the building, the Middleton Depot building was named a Middleton Landmark in 1977, and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1999. It was built in 1895, and served passengers until 1960. The building currently houses the Middleton Tourism and Visitors Center and the Museum at the Depot.
Photo #1: The Middleton restaurant some believe was a stop on the underground railroad.
Currently the location of 1847 at the Stamm House, this building was constructed in 1847. By 1852 it was converted to a hotel and tavern named “The Pheasant Branch Hotel.” During this period, it was rumored to be a stop on the Underground Railroad.
Photo #2: Street signs at the starting point of the traditional Good Neighbor Fest parade route.
The traditional Sunday Good Neighbor Festival Parade begins at University Avenue and Maple Street.
Photo #3: The location where many logos are displayed of Good Neighbor Fest trustee organizations, across the street from a classic Middleton tavern.
The large M is on University Avenue and Branch Street, across from the Club Tavern.
Photo #4: The memorial placed by Festival trustee William “Sonny” Simon, VFW Post 8216 at a city park.
The Rowley House, at 7410 Hubbard Avenue, was built in 1868 by Dr. Newman C. Rowley. The original Dr. Rowley died in 1871, but his two sons also lived in the house and practiced medicine in Middleton, and his granddaughter lived in the house until 1988. Upon her death, the property was donated to the Middleton Area Historical Society, and now serves as the Rowley House Museum.
Photo #9: The plastic bird that makes its home in front of the presenting sponsor of the 2020 festival.
This plastic owl stands guard over the shopping carts at 2020 Festival Presenting Sponsor Willy Street Co-op.
Photo #10: The recently stabilized hillside that was damaged in the flood of 2018.
This hillside is located on the Pheasant Branch Conservancy path, visible from Park Street.
For the first time since 1964, the Middleton community will not be able to gather at Firemen’s Park in late August for the annual Good Neighbor Festival. Construction at the high school was already going to present some logistical challenges, but the pandemic was simply too much to overcome.
Rather than simply cancel the event outright, festival organizers felt it was as important as ever to continue Middleton’s cherished tradition—to encourage and celebrate each other, our six Good Neighbor Award recipients, and our community’s resilience and perseverance.
When planning began for this year’s festival, it felt natural to select a theme that looked ahead to the coming decade. Given that the person chosen to lead the festival in 2020 is someone who enjoys plays on words, it should be no surprise that the selected theme “lens” itself to making (insert adjective of choice) puns.
Of course, what the trustees from the ten community organizations who make up the festival couldn’t foresee at the time was what a spectacle this year’s event would truly become. So much for the vision of parade participants traveling along University Avenue and Parmenter Street wearing whimsical oversized glasses.
So festival organizers shifted the focus away from planning activities at Firemen’s Park and instead fixed their gaze on organizing events that would create a more virtual, weeklong spectacle.
This year, the festival provides the opportunity to:
Hunt down Scavenger Hunt clues and submit results for prizes, presented by TDS.
Submit a photo and receive a themed portrait (for a fee) from Expressively You Caricatures.
Participate in Kiddie Time via Facebook Live: a performance by James the Magician (Thursday, August 27 at 4:00 p.m.) and a virtual storytime from the Middleton Public Library (Friday, August 28, at 4:00 p.m.).
Take in a free 45-minute Yoga session for all levels of ability by Harbor Athletic Club (Saturday, August 29, 9:00 a.m.).
Join in the fun of our 2020 theme and participate in an online pun contest (Sunday, August 30, 7:00 p.m.).
Enjoy specials at, or order take-out from, various Middleton restaurants, thereby supporting both the business and the festival.
Bid on donated Silent Auction items throughout the week to benefit our trustee organizations.
View Middleton’s Got Talent finalists videos, presented by Madison Gas & Electric.
Run or Walk our Virtual 5K Route — or cheer on those who do!
On behalf of all trustees, I would like to thank the over 40 Middleton area businesses who are providing financial support as sponsors of this year’s festival or as silent auction donors. I particularly want to recognize the generosity of Willy Street Co-op for continuing as the Festival’s Presenting Sponsor. The proceeds from the Festival help these trustee organizations fund the community projects that are part of their mission.
Although technology is helping us remain connected, it is important to keep in mind that not everyone has access to the communications that many are able to take for granted in 2020. Good Neighbor Week is a perfect time to call neighbors or friends whom you haven’t seen or heard from in a while.
Let’s keep sharing our Good Neighbor spirit throughout the community, during our weeklong spectacle and beyond.
Middleton area residents—and anyone online—will still be able to celebrate the community’s annual Good Neighbor Festival in late August during “Good Neighbor Fest Week,” scheduled to run August 24-30.
“The reports of the demise of the 2020 Good Neighbor Festival are greatly exaggerated,” according to Festival President Mark Opitz. “As promised in June, when we sadly announced the cancellation of the annual in-person event, we have remained committed to the vision of celebrating good neighbors and supporting our non-profit trustee organizations that make such a positive impact on the Middleton community.”
One of the Festival’s most popular annual events, the 5K Run/Walk, will be held virtually this year. Registered participants can run or walk the route at any time during Good Neighbor Fest week, receive a race t-shirt, and be eligible to win door prizes upon submitting their completion time. Registration for the 5K Run/Walk is $25 for adults and $15 for kids 12 and under, and is now open at www.goodneighborfestival.com.
Other announced events include a scavenger hunt, a virtual storytime and performance by James the Magician, a Middleton’s Got Talent contest, Expressively You Caricatures, a Restaurant Week featuring specials at Middleton establishments, a silent auction, and a “pun slam” contest centered on humorous word play as evoked by the 2020 festival theme.
The annual Good Neighbor Awards will also remain a prominent component of the festival. “Now more than ever, as we work together to overcome the serious challenges facing our community and the world around us, we should take a moment to recognize some of the amazing Middleton residents whose contributions to their neighbors and to the community at large help the city live up to its moniker,” said Opitz. An online nomination form is available at www.goodneighborfestival.com, the deadline to submit a nomination is August 10.
Willy Street Co-op will serve as presenting sponsor of the event. The Festival is actively seeking additional sponsors and silent auction items for the silent auction, with the goal of replacing some of the income that the non-profit trustee organizations rely upon from the annual Festival, and use in service of the community. Good neighbors and businesses interested in contributing should email the planning committee at email@example.com. Visit www.goodneighborfestival.com for additional, up-to-date information and to learn more about the Festival’s trustee organizations and how to help support their non-profit missions.
It is with heavy hearts that the Board of Trustees of the Middleton Good Neighbor Festival announces the cancellation of the 57th Annual Good Neighbor Festival on August 28-30. Organizers worked diligently to find a way to preserve this cherished community tradition, but decided that it simply was not responsible to plan an in-person event that could increase the risk of transmission of COVID-19.
The Festival Trustees plan to hold virtual events during August, both as an opportunity to celebrate the community, and to support the non-profit missions of the organizations that present the Festival. The Festival will select Good Neighbor Award participants, and recognize and support the community in many other ways that will be announced in coming weeks.
“With 2020 hindsight, the Board of Trustees has sadly concluded that our original vision for this year’s festival is no longer feasible,” said Festival President Mark Opitz. “Although we will not be joining together at Fireman’s Park this August, we remain committed to finding creative ways to celebrate the good neighbors and service organizations that comprise the Middleton community.”
The Good Neighbor Festival is presented by a group of Middleton non-profit organizations, which have raised funds at the event to support the community since 1964. Cancelling the Festival will be costly for these organizations and the causes they support. But when people are in close physical contact, the virus spreads. The trustees concluded that any event encouraging people to congregate would be a disservice to the community under the current circumstances.
Please visit goodneighborfestival.com to learn more about the Festival’s trustee organizations, and how to help support their non-profit missions.
“We will continue to celebrate our resilience and our support for one another,” noted Opitz. “The Good Neighbor Festival Board of Trustees looks forward to gathering virtually this August, and we intend to have double the fun in 2021!”
These are uncertain times, and the entire Middleton community is faced with new challenges. While many activities have been cancelled through the spring and early summer, the Good Neighbor Festival Board of Trustees continues to plan for the 57th Annual Good Neighbor Festival on August 28-30, and they remain cautiously optimistic that the event can take place.
Although organizers are seeking to preserve this cherished community tradition, there will be changes to adjust to the COVID-19 situation as necessary. One significant change that was already in the works is that the Festival will adopt an “open campus“ concept in 2020, allowing alcoholic beverages to be consumed on most of the Festival grounds 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.
In addition to avoiding crowding, this approach also allows 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.
Free live entertainment will also be a part of the Festival, but will be presented on a single stage located in between the beer stands. The lineup is still being finalized, but the Festival expects many favorites to perform, including The Jimmy’s, Lube, Red Hot Horn Dawgs, Mascot Theory and Pacific Coast Highway.
This year’s Festival will also feature a return to a more “homegrown” feel for entertainment. The Festival is asking the community to bring its creativity to exciting parade floats, particularly those that incorporate a pun (this year’s theme, 2020 Vision: A Middleton Spectacle, is an example). A local talent stage will feature acts that wish to perform without pay, but for much appreciation. This stage will also include good-natured competitions, like a Pun Slam contest. Good neighbors interested in participating in these events should contact the Board of Trustees at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Traditional Festival activities are also currently scheduled to return, including the Good Neighbor 5K Run/Walk, Good Neighbor Parade, Kiddie Parade, the Art and Craft Fair and the Carnival. There will also be other free entertainment and delicious food throughout the Festival, including a return to individual food concessions by Festival trustee organizations.
Although the Middleton High School expansion project has gotten under way, the construction does not directly affect the festival grounds. There will remain a paved, unobstructed walkway between the main high school parking lot and Firemen’s Park. Festival organizers are exploring ways to make sure the impacts are minimized, including the possibility of alternative parking sites with a shuttle system.
Registration for the parade, 5K and the Art and Craft Fair is now open at www.goodneighborfestival.com. Fees are fully refundable if the Festival must be cancelled, but at this point the Festival trustees are hopeful that they will be able to present the Festival in some fashion. They view the Festival as a perfect opportunity to come together and celebrate the Middleton community’s perseverance!
The Good Neighbor Festival is delighted to announce that the theme for this year’s event is “2020 Vision–A Middleton Spectacle.” A play on words, the 2020 theme invites a whimsical look at the festival while also looking ahead to Middleton’s bright future.
As noted by 2020 Festival President Mark Opitz, “this year’s theme ‘lens’ itself well to having some fun with language, if you’re in that frame of mind. It also seems fitting to focus on the new decade ahead. I envision we’ll have a lot of creative parade entries this year!”
The Good Neighbor Festival will be held August 28-30 at Fireman’s Park in Middleton. 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 area.
Some exciting changes are in store for 2020, including a return to individual food concessions run by festival trustee organizations. Opitz said that organizers are focusing in particular on enhancing the experience while on the festival grounds, and he added, “we are eyeing a few surprises.”
For the second year, Willy Street Co-op will be the presenting sponsor of the Festival. Many more sponsorships are needed to make the festival possible. Visit our sponsor page to learn more!
Good Neighbor President
Curt Fuszard has chosen the 2019 recipients of the Keith Hinsman Award: Anamika
Holke and Courtney Reichard. The Hinsman
Award is given each year to a Trustee Board Member who goes above and beyond in
their commitment to the Festival.
Holke and Reichard were
recognized for their work on publicity for the Festival through newspapers,
television, radio, website and social media.
Fuszard said: “2019 was a
record-setting year on some many fronts, in large part due to the exemplary
work of our communications team. Anamika and Courtney leveraged all
possible resources and their amazing skill set to raise awareness, engagement
and, ultimately, attendance. We are very grateful!”
Holke has been a member of
the Middleton Jaycees since 2014, and became a Festival Trustee Board member
shortly thereafter. The Middleton
Jaycees, a young professionals volunteer group, organize the Art and Craft Fair
for the Festival.
Holke has served as a
board member for the Jaycees and has chaired many fundraising events. She is
passionate about volunteering, and motivating others to get involved by
creating awareness of events and the needs of the community. Serving on the
Publicity Committee for the Festival was a natural fit. She enjoys working with
trustees from the other groups and feels its great opportunity to meet new like-minded
Holke has been in the
Madison area for almost 11 years. She works at Guild Mortgage, and also has a
graphic design business. Holke has embraced the summertime culture by spending
weekends at the Farmer’s Market, checking out other local festivals and
enjoying the local breweries with her husband and friends.
“Seeing the community
come together and enjoy the Festival, makes all the time volunteered throughout
the year completely worth it! It’s an honor to receive this award along with
Courtney, and to serve amongst the other amazing trustees.”
Reichard has represented
the Middleton-Cross Plains Area School District Education Foundation on the
Trustee Board since 2016. She has lived
in Middleton with her family since 2011, and works as an attorney with the
Minneapolis law firm of Nilan Johnson Lewis, a firm she helped start in
1996. She divides her time between
offices in Minneapolis and Madison, representing corporate clients in products
liability and employment matters.
She loved working on
social media and website for the Festival.
“We were drawn to Middleton because of the strong community spirit and
excellent schools. Nothing embodies the
wonderful community of Middleton more than the annual Good Neighbor Festival,
and I am thrilled to have the opportunity to contribute to this great annual
event while also helping fund the non-profit missions of all trustees,
especially the MCPASD Education Foundation.”
Reichard also serves on the Board of the Middleton Public Library and is
involved in booster organizations for Middleton High School Theatre and Choir.
The Award is named for Festival co-founder Keith
Hinsman. On a cold night in February
1964, Amos Colby – a pharmacist who was President of the Middleton Chamber of
Commerce – invited his friend Hinsman over for a beer, and shared an idea: a
community Festival, getting volunteer groups to work together on a single event
instead of running their own fundraisers throughout the summer. Hinsman and Colby
brought these groups together for the first Festival in August 1964, and both
remained involved with the Festival for many years, with Hinsman serving on the
Trustee Board from 1964 to 1989.
The Good Neighbor Festival is a community celebration in Middleton, WI, held the last weekend of August since 1964.