Message from GNF President Curt Fuszard

Soon it will be time for our annual Middleton Good Neighbor Festival, being held on August 23-25 at Firemen’s Park.  What can you expect?  Our mission statement says it all:

“To host the region’s finest community festival by offering a superior client and volunteer experience for the benefit of the sponsoring non-profit organizations.”

The 57th rendition of the festival will be the best yet as we introduce new features (Pickleball, the “Wisconsin Remembers” memorial wall, the new Middleton PD K-9 team, etc.) while bringing back some old favorites such as Bingo and the fabulous chicken dinner.  Great musical acts and the family focused carnival will be complemented by great food from Club Tavern Catering.

Children will enjoy the Kiddie Parade on Friday.  A huge crowd will participate in the 5K Run/Walk on Saturday to join Chief Chuck Foulke, Chief Aaron Harris and other “Celebrity Runners”.  The community parade on Sunday will be led by Parade Marshal Mike Leckrone.  Other “can’t miss” events include Movie Night, Laser Tag and the craft fair.

The festival is the perfect place for recycling.  Every dollar goes to a Middleton Trustee organization to fund the many projects they support.  

Please join us an attendee, a volunteer, a sponsor or all of the above.  Thank you for your support of the area’s final community celebration of 2019!

Curt Fuszard, Good Neighbor Festival President

Carnival rides are supported by founding Trustee Group

Photo by Jeff Martin

The Auxiliary to VFW William “Sonny” Simon Post 8216 was one of the founding members of the Good Neighbor Festival and has been operating the carnival since the Festival’s beginning.

The group is comprised of military and veteran family members age 16 and up.  The VFW Auxiliary provides funding for services that support military families in times of crisis and deployment at both state and national levels. The Auxiliary also supplies financial and in-kind support to our Wisconsin VA Hospitals. The organization donates to a number of area groups such as: Middleton-Cross Plains Elementary Schools, Middleton Outreach Ministry, Madison Dry Hooch, local scouting programs, school scholarships and many other local organizations in their charitable efforts.

You can enjoy the Carnival Rides, featuring Wenzel Amusements, every day of the Festival. Hours are Friday 5pm-11pm, Saturday 11am-11pm, and Sunday 11am-5pm. Tickets are $1 each and rides require 3-4 tickets. Unlimited ride wristbands are available Saturday from 1pm-5pm and can be purchased as early as 12pm on Saturday for $20.

Optimist International Turns 100

This year, the Optimist International Organization celebrates 100 years of serving the youth of our communities.  From a single gathering in Buffalo, New York in 1919 to now hosting chapters in 23 countries on six continents, the Optimist brand is virtually everywhere.

As one way to celebrate this milestone, the Middleton Optimist Club will hold a gathering at Lakeview Park on Saturday, June 15 from noon to 3:00pm.  Current and former members of the Club are welcome as are all friends of the organization.  Those joining us will be invited to bring a dish to pass. Stories will be told and photographs will be shared as we recount the evolution of this Club over the past 40+ years.  The public is encouraged to stop by and learn about the ways we serve the community. 

The celebration is following their annual event “Cops & Bobbers”.  On Saturday of Father’s Day weekend, they welcome families to join in from 8:00am to noon also at Lakeview Park.  The first 200 kids receive a free fishing pole along with related gear and bait.  They have “Fishing Coaches” available to assist.  Those coaches are members of the Middleton Police Department.  The families also enjoy a complimentary lunch afterwards.

To learn more about the Optimists or how to get involved you can visit or find them on Facebook. Their meetings are held most Wednesdays at 7:00am at Sofra.

You can see the Optimists in action volunteering at The Good Neighbor Festival, Friday August 23rd-25th at Fireman’s Park.

Leckrone will serve as 2019 Good Neighbor Festival Parade Marshal

The Good Neighbor Festival Board of Trustees is honored to announce that Michael Leckrone, retiring director of the Marching Band and Director of Bands at the University of Wisconsin – and a long-time Middleton resident – has accepted the role of Parade Marshal for the 2019 Good Neighbor Festival. Leckrone will lead over 100 entries during the August 25th parade through the streets of downtown Middleton.

Leckrone holds memberships in numerous professional organizations, as well as several honorary fraternities. In 2007, he was presented with a  “Lifetime Achievement Award” by the Wisconsin Foundation for School Music (this was only the second time this preeminent award had been conferred), and in 2010 the Wisconsin State Historical society presented him with the “Spencer Tracy Award for Distinction in the Performing Arts”, and in 2013 the Madison Area Music Association named him the recipient of the Michael St. John Lifetime Achievement Award.

Leckrone retires this year after 50 years as Director of the University of Wisconsin Marching Band.  He has had a remarkable career, and has served as a clinician, guest conductor and adjudicator for concert and marching bands throughout the United States and Canada.  His experience also includes considerable professional work as an arranger, composer and performer.

This will be Leckrone’s second time leading the Good Neighbor Festival parade.  The first time was in 1983, as part of the Festival’s Music! Music! Music! theme.  That year, Leckrone was parade marshal along with the band directors of Middleton High School and Kromrey Middle School – Vern Pieper and Lois Gurske.

The Festival’s annual parade will be held on Sunday, August 25th at noon on University Avenue and Parmenter Street. Get there early and get a good spot to see Michael and over 100 entertaining entries. This year’s theme is “Superhero City- Celebrating Those Serve”.  The public and a panel of judges select entries for awards based on how well they express the theme. 

Leckrone has composed or arranged music for numerous high school and university bands, and over 200 of his arrangements and compositions for marching band and concert band have been published.  He is also the author of two texts for use by marching band directors, a handbook for band arranging and a text dealing with popular music in the United States. 

Willy Street Co-op Named Inaugural “Presenting Sponsor” for Middleton Good Neighbor Festival 

The Good Neighbor Festival (“GNF”) is thrilled to announce a three-year partnership with Willy Street Co-op as its Presenting Sponsor beginning with the 2019 Festival.  This is the first time in its 55 years of celebrating with and for the Middleton Community that the Festival has fostered such a partnership.

The GNF Board of Trustees identified Willy Street Co-op months ago as the ideal candidate for the Presenting Sponsor status, given its history of support for the Festival, its anchor location for the Festival Parade and its ongoing commitment to our community.

Willy Street Co-op is a cooperative grocery store that is owned by the members. The store is known for its large selection of organic fruits and vegetables, delicious deli menu and friendly and helpful staff. Every year, Willy Street Co-op works to help other nonprofits and co-ops in the community through programs such as their Community Reinvestment Fund. GNF President Curt Fuszard said: “Needless to say, GNF could not be prouder to have Willy Street Co-op as our Presenting Sponsor over the next three years.”

The Festival has been a staple of the Middleton and surrounding communities for generations.

Kicking off with the Kiddie Parade on Friday night, patrons of all ages enjoy carnival rides, live music, a craft fair, a 5K race, delicious food options and so much more. The Festival is presented entirely by volunteers, representing a group of service clubs and other non-profit organizations in our community.  The 2019 GNF will be held August 23-25 at Fireman’s Park in Middleton.

“Helping to create a sense of community is very important to us,” said Lindsey Hardy, the director of the Co-op’s Middleton store. “The Good Neighbor Festival is such an important event here that we knew we had to support it and help it grow.”

The Good Neighbor Festival is a community celebration in Middleton, WI, held the last weekend of August since 1964.