The Fourth of July holiday weekend is a great opportunity to revel in the things that bring us together as Americans. At the same time, the midsummer holiday weekend also serves as the height of tourism season in Baraboo and features endless events and opportunities to enjoy the many things that make Baraboo and greater Sauk County a unique place to live.
Tourists aren’t always looked upon favorably by local residents, but make no mistake, many of the businesses and events we enjoy are made possible through revenue brought into our communities from people who come here to visit Wisconsin Dells, Devil’s Lake State Park, Circus World Museum and many other local natural and man-made attractions. If we treat our visitors as though they were our neighbors, they will continue to come back and support our thriving communities.
So get out, enjoy the holiday weekend and be thankful for the opportunities we are afforded in Sauk County.
Concerts on the Square
Thumb's up: One longstanding tradition that remains a favorite among Baraboo residents and many more from surrounding areas is Baraboo’s Concerts on the Square. The free weekly event takes place all summer long on the lawn of the Sauk County Courthouse, or in the Al. Ringling Theatre when inclement weather threatens. There aren’t a lot of venues offering free music that ranges from doo wop to contemporary Latin to New Orleans-style Dixieland tunes. While you’re enjoying the free music, don’t forget to thank long-time event organizer Jerry Stich, who has kept the performances going through all these years. The concept of utilizing the courthouse in the center of the square has continued to expand recently with the addition of a monthly free movie held Friday nights. The movies add even more to the charm of downtown Baraboo as the streetlamps around the courthouse are dimmed and an outdoor screen lights up with movies the entire family can enjoy.
Fourth of July activities
Thumb's up: Each year, Baraboo works to make its Fourth of July fireworks display and other events stand out among many area opportunities for families to enjoy the holiday. The ever-changing and developing events keep people coming back. This year’s celebration was no different. Concerts on the Square was expanded into a two-day event, with Friday's festivities featuring the University of Wisconsin-Baraboo/Sauk County Campus/Community Band and Singers, who performed at Baraboo High School in advance of the fireworks display. UW-Baraboo also hosted its Barabooms! event featuring local band Say It Ain’t Soul and a beer and wine garden with a view of the fireworks display.
Thumb's down: The money that freely flows through our elections system is prominent as ever as the airwaves, our mailboxes and email fill with political ads and solicitations from political campaigns and organizations for more money. It’s clearly an issue of too much, too soon. So long as they continue to be effective, the ads won’t be going away any time soon. However, it’s time for this nation to support a sunshine law that would force the dark money behind politics and campaign ads into the light. The U.S. Supreme Court has opened the spigot of unlimited political donations with its Citizens United decision, but left room in its ruling for laws requiring disclosure of those behind the money. It’s time for some common-sense disclosure rules so citizens can make a truly educated decision at the polls.
Thumb's up: Clear evidence of UW-Baraboo’s ongoing effort to attract new students from a wider area is rising from the ground as work continues on the campus’s first residential hall. The privately funded and operated dorm will help keep the campus on the map and allow it to attract students from all across the region. It’s an example of the development that will help lure a new generation of students and help keep the campus active and vibrant part of the community.
Thumb's down: Is that applause we hear? More than likely it’s the sound of people slapping the backs of their necks as they try to swat another pesky mosquito. UW-Madison insect diagnostic lab manager Patrick Liesch referred to this year’s crop of the nuisance insects as a “booming population.” Mosquitoes typically are little more than a nuisance, but they also can carry the West Nile virus. The virus was detected in Sauk County when a crow found June 18 tested positive for the disease, which can be transmitted to humans by mosquitoes. “The positive bird means that residents of Sauk County need to be more vigilant in their personal protective measures to prevent mosquito bites,” said Sauk County Public Health Director Cindy Bodendein. So while we’re outdoors enjoying the many activities Sauk County offers, it is probably good to bring along the bug spray and probably put on pants and long-sleeve shirts around dawn and dusk, the preferred feeding time for the pests.
New football coach
Thumb's up: Congratulations to Steve Turkington on your new position as Baraboo High School Football Coach, and welcome. Baraboo is very supportive of its athletics programs and we believe you will find fertile ground here to build a successful program. With your background in coaching under Dave Richardson at Verona Area High School and the subsequent success of that program, we’re happy you want to bring your talent and experience to Baraboo. We’re also happy to hear that you will be working with both student athletes and the regular student body as a physical education teacher. That interaction with students and staff at the high school only can benefit the program. Go Thunderbirds!