Meridith Jumisko is Public Relations Manager at the Kenosha Area Convention & Visitors Bureau. Contact her at MJ@VisitKenosha.com or drop her a tweet @MJ_Kenosha.
Upcoming local food & beverage events
This story originally appeared in the February 13th, 2020 edition of The Smart Reader.
While the 2020 edition of Kenosha Restaurant Week is now in our rearview mirror, there are still many more fun food and beverage events to look forward to in the Kenosha Area this year! Mark these events on your calendar now:
The 20th Great Kenosha Area Pizza Bakeoff is on February 23 at Parkway Chateau, which is located at the north end of Brat Stop. Sample and vote for your favorite pizzas while also raising funds for kids’ programs in and around the Kenosha Area.
Taking a brief break from its winter hibernation, the Petrifying Springs Biergarten will be open the weekend before St. Patrick’s Day. Among the activities planned there is the Leprechaun & Lederhosen .1K Beer Run on March 14. It’s promoted as a “grueling”, straight, flat 100-meter course. The event supports the Boys & Girls Club of Kenosha.
The 20th annual Bowls & Books Soup Fest Contest is March 25 at Rhode Center for the Arts. You get to taste and score each soup, served up by local restaurants. All proceeds go toward the continued renovation of the historic Rhode Center for the Arts, which is the home of Lakeside Players, a non-profit community theatre group that formed in 1973.
The Kenosha History Center Mac & Cheese Throwdown is a new family-friendly event on April 4. It takes place at the Wyndham Garden – Kenosha Harborside. Taste and vote for your favorite mac & cheese that’s provided by local restaurants. Help preserve Kenosha County history at the same time!
The Dairy State Cheese & Beer Festival happens on April 25 at Brat Stop and Parkway Chateau. This fun-filled event features a variety of Wisconsin cheeses, some of the most sought-after beers from Wisconsin and beyond as well as great live music. The annual event supports the Boys & Girls Club of Kenosha. If you have friends or family attending the event from out-of-town – or if you want to turn the event into a mini staycation – a few local hotels are offering packages which include a hotel stay and tickets.
Kenosha Craft Beer Week is May 9-17. The Kenosha County Dairy Breakfast is June 20 at Weis-Way Dairy. The Kiwanis Club of Western Kenosha produces its 12th annual Taste of Wisconsin July 24-26. Proceeds benefit local charities and community programs. Border War Beer Fest is August 1. This is a benefit for the Boys & Girls Club of Kenosha and is co-produced by BrewFest Partners. Who loves sweet corn like I do? The family-friendly Jerry Smith Sweet Corn Fest is August 8-9. Meanwhile, Cheese-A-Palooza is September 5-6.
Many Oktoberfest events take place in September. Here are the dates and locations that we know of so far: September 11-12 at House of Gerhard, September 12 at Old Settlers Park, September 18-20 at the Petrifying Springs Biergarten, and September 26 at Kemper Center. Looking even further ahead, the Kenosha History Center Chili Cook-Off is October 17.
Go to VisitKenosha.com/Events for details on these and many more events. For more information about fun in Kenosha, you can also call us at (262) 654-7307 or visit one of the two Visitor Information Centers that we staff: at 600 – 52nd Street, Suite 140 in Downtown Kenosha and at I-94 & Hwy. 165. Be sure to pick up our 2020 Kenosha Area Visitors Guide!
Plan your event in Kenosha
This story originally appeared in the January 16, 2020 edition of The Smart Reader.
Here at the Kenosha Area Convention & Visitors Bureau, we are often contacted about event space. When it comes to planning the perfect special event in the Kenosha Area, our team is here to help. From sports tournaments, conferences, and corporate meetings to weddings, reunions, and group tours, we’ve got the expertise to find just the right venue for your needs.
If you’re planning a wedding, party, meeting or other special event this year, we have some venue ideas for you. Many of these options are in historic buildings or offer additional amenities such as museum exhibits to explore.
Our hotels with abundant event space include The Stella Hotel & Ballroom and Wyndham Garden-Kenosha Harborside. Country Inn & Suites and Hampton Inn & Suites each have a meeting room for modest sized groups. Consider Carthage College or University of Wisconsin-Parkside for large event spaces with ample technology access.
Banquet facilities include Circa on Seventh, Kemper Center, and Parkway Chateau at Brat Stop. Unique venues also include The Civil War Museum, Fusion-Kenosha Performing Arts Association, GFWC Woman’s Club of Kenosha, Italian American Supper Club, Kenosha Creative Space, and the Kenosha Public Museum.
The O at Backyard Dream Studios offers day passes or memberships for individuals and professionals in a co-office space setting, with space to meet with clients, work quietly, and conference room access. In its off-season, Wilmot Mountain has indoor and outdoor facilities available for weddings, banquets, 5K runs, meetings, and much more.
Numerous restaurants offer private rooms for gathering. Please keep in mind that many restaurants will open outside of normal hours to accommodate special events and groups, and also offer catering off-site.
Looking for more fun party ideas? The Kenosha YMCA offers a variety of party packages. Depending on your interests, you can have a pool party, an obstacle course festivity, a dance party, a science-themed gathering, or a rock-climbing adventure. Birthday parties for all ages can be held at Robin’s Nest Cakery. Or you can have a pie-making party at Elsie Mae’s Bakery & Cannery.
We also have many icebreaker, team-building, and pre- and post- meeting activities for your event. Zipline and climb at Boundless Adventures, sail on the Tall Ship Red Witch, ride the Electric Streetcar, paint at Alpaca Art Pottery Painting or Pinot’s Palette, laugh together at the Kenosha Comedy Club, fish with the Kenosha Charter Boat Association, go snow tubing at Wilmot Mountain, visit a local brewery or Petrifying Springs Biergarten, attend a Kenosha Kingfish baseball game, or enjoy a round of golf. The options are endless (and, of course, depend on the time of year).
You need not leave town to have a fun event! Contact us today for event planning assistance! Log on to VisitKenosha.com for details on these and more places. You can also call us at (262) 654-7307 or visit one of the two Visitor Information Centers that we staff: at 600 – 52nd Street, Suite 140 in Downtown Kenosha and at I-94 & Hwy. 165. Our new 2020 Kenosha Area Visitors Guide is now available.
A year for celebrating!
This story originally appeared in the January 2, 2020 edition of The Smart Reader.
Happy New Year! This month, the Kenosha Area Convention & Visitors Bureau’s NEW 2020 Kenosha Area Visitors Guide debuts. Intended for visitors to our community, residents will also find the guide helpful to Be A Tourist In Your Own Town! Here’s a sneak peek! On page seven of the new guide, we recognize these important 2020 milestones:
DeBerge’s Framing and Gallery turns 130 years old. Established in 1890, Henry W. DeBerge’s great-granddaughters now run the shop. Meanwhile, it’s 100 years for the Kenosha County Fair. The Centennial Celebration will be part of this year’s fair Aug. 19-23.
Also turning 100 is Simmons Field! Many baseball players have played here since 1920. Teams such as the Kenosha Twins, Kenosha Kings, Kenosha Chiefs, Kenosha Kroakers, and Kenosha Mammoths have called Simmons Field home – as have the Kenosha Comets, the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League team (which we learned about in the movie “A League of Their Own”). The pop group NSync even played a charity softball game here – my sister and I were there! The Kenosha Kingfish opens their seventh season at Simmons Field on May 26.
The Kenosha YMCA is celebrating its 90th year. Here’s a fun fact: automaker Charles Nash and his wife were instrumental in the formation of the Kenosha YMCA in 1930. The Kenosha Symphony Orchestra is in the midst of its 80th season. The organization was established in 1940. Two concerts remain this season: Broadway Comes To Kenosha on March 14 and a Celebration of Beethoven is on May 2.
Tenuta’s Delicatessen turns 70 years old on April 1. In 1920, John N. Tenuta left Italy to seek his fortune in the United States. He opened the old-fashioned Italian deli in 1950. Today, the third generation runs the shop. Also 70 years old is the Kenosha Art Association. In existence since 1950, this organization is dedicated to art enrichment in the community.
Electric Streetcar service returned to Kenosha 20 years ago this June. From 1903 to 1932, electric rail was a regular mode of transportation in Kenosha. In honor of the 20th anniversary, we offer a “Name That Streetcar” quiz on page 21 of the 2020 Kenosha Area Visitors Guide. Test your streetcar knowledge! Each Kenosha streetcar has a name and color scheme that represents the legacy of streetcar transportation in North America. We give you the opportunity to match the streetcar’s color scheme to its name.
The Southport Light Station Museum is celebrating 10 years. After years of extensive remodeling and renovation, the 1867 Light Station keeper’s house opened in May 2010 as a maritime museum, paired with the 1866 Southport Lighthouse that’s open for tower climbs. Both features are open seasonally.
Congratulations to all! Once our new Visitors Guide is available, you can find it at VisitKenosha.com, numerous places around town, and at our two Visitor Information Centers: at 600 – 52nd Street, Suite 140 in Downtown Kenosha and at I-94 & Hwy. 165. You can also call us at (262) 654-7307 with any questions.
Winter Break in Kenosha
This story originally appeared in the Smart Reader, December 19th, 2019
Whether you call it Winter Recess, Winter Break, or Christmas Break, it’s a great time to set aside the normal routine, get up without an alarm, unplug from the office, relax with family, and have fun. I firmly believe in taking one every year – hey, it’s not just for kids!
Given my job, I can give you many ideas of what to do during this time. I could give you 101 ideas! Be sure to check out our current FUN 101 list: 101 Things to See & Do for $10 & Under (Many are FREE!). It’s available at VisitKenosha.com/FUN101. And that’s just a start!
Our website is full of ideas of places to dine, shop, and play at. Here are a few options: Wilmot Mountain is a great place for winter fun! The resort boasts 120 skiable acres, 23 unique trails, a newly transformed terrain park, a 22-lane tubing area, a state-of-the-art ski school, and three places to eat. The attraction welcomes newcomers while also catering to seasoned skiers and riders. A Kids New Year’s Eve Bash will be held on Dec. 31.
If you’re not outdoorsy, you have your pick of local museums to visit! The Rambler Gallery at the Kenosha History Center has two new exhibits and a new set of cars on display. The AMC Design Studio features two clay concept models by a team of former AMC designers as it takes a look at the design side of our local automotive history. The museum also debuts its first dedicated exhibit on the impact of engine manufacturing in Kenosha, thanks to generous donations of artifacts, photographs, and more from UAW Local 72. Also view two rare Kenosha automobiles: a Nash Pickup – they didn’t make many – and the one-of-a-kind 1972 Gremlin “Voyageur”.
Meanwhile, the annual Frost Fest with free family activities takes place at the Kenosha Public Museum from 1 to 4 p.m. on Dec 27 and 30. The theme on Dec. 27 is Norwegian Traditions, while on Dec. 30, discover how people around the world celebrate the New Year. Make decorations for your own celebration! Just as entertaining and educational are visits to the nearby Civil War Museum and Dinosaur Discovery Museum. Take a ride aboard the Electric Streetcar while you’re in Downtown Kenosha!
Going out for a treat is also a fun outing! Have a malt at the vintage soda fountain counter at Jack Andrea. Enjoy a shake at Bristol 45 Diner. Go for ice cream at Sandy’s Popper or Scoops Ice Cream and Candy. Pick your favorite pie flavor at Elsie Mae’s Bakery & Cannery. Enjoy a cupcake at Robin’s Nest Cakery or a smoothie at Nutrition Revolution.
Be A Tourist In Your Own Town! Log on to VisitKenosha.com for details on these and more places. You can also call us at (262) 654-7307 or visit one of the two Visitor Information Centers that we staff: at 600 – 52nd Street, Suite 140 in Downtown Kenosha and at I-94 & Hwy. 1
This story originally appeared in the Smart Reader, December 5, 2019
Are you scurrying about looking for presents and stocking stuffers? Whether you want to shop local, shop small, or just shop unique – I have ideas!
We list numerous locally owned shops at VisitKenosha.com/Shop. I would be remiss if I didn’t give a shout-out to Seebecks. Also known as Seebeck Gallery, the shop owned by Vicki and Jon Seebeck is closing at the end of this month after 27 years in business. We thank the Seebecks for all they have done in the community!
More places to shop include Pleasant Prairie Premium Outlets (80+ stores) and Jelly Belly Visitor Center. Museum gift shops carry a variety of Kenosha keepsakes as well as items related to each museum’s mission. For example, the Kenosha History Center has AMC and lighthouse clothing, among other gifts.
Art galleries offer handmade gifts. Lemon Street Gallery & Artspace is hosting the Artistree Giftable Art Show & Sale through Dec. 24. You can also find handmade gifts at Kenosha Winter HarborMarket on Saturdays from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. inside the Kenosha Masonic Center at 115 56th Street. The market takes place on two days with expanded hours (10 a.m. – 4 p.m.) Dec. 7-8 as part of Kenosha HarborHoliday – International Market & Festival. The market will be outdoors in heated tents on pavement east of the Kenosha Public Museum and Civil War Museum. There will be more than 50 food, gift, and produce vendors. Be sure to go INSIDE the museums as well, as there will be more vendors – especially at the International Holiday Faire inside the Kenosha Public Museum. It will feature foods, gifts, and crafts from around the world.
Give the gift of an experience! I love to give – and receive – restaurant gift cards. Did you know the Kenosha Charter Boat Association offers gift certificates? A Wilmot Mountain gift card would also look great under the tree, just as a Kenosha Kingfish gift card would be a hit. The baseball team opens their seventh season at Historic Simmons Field on May 26. Or hit a hole in one with gift cards to Brighton Dale Links and Petrifying Springs Golf Course. It’s never too early to think spring!
Surprise your family and friends with tickets to an upcoming Lakeside Players production at Rhode Center for the Arts – or to a Kenosha Symphony Concert. The Bristol Renaissance Faire’s Holidazzle Ticket Sale continues through Jan. 6; the new season opens July 11. Do you know country music fans? I sure do!! Tickets are on sale now for next summer’s Country Thunder. Keith Urban, Miranda Lambert, Kane Brown, and Dustin Lynch are among the stars who will be here July 16-19.
And there you have it. Just a few ideas to get you started – and closer to being finished – with your shopping! Log on to VisitKenosha.com for details and even more ideas. For more information you can also call us at (262) 654-7307 or visit one of the two Visitor Information Centers that we staff: at 600 – 52nd Street, Suite 140 in Downtown Kenosha and at I-94 & Hwy. 165.
Local Holiday Events
This story originally appeared in the Smart Reader, November 21, 2019
I can’t decide which events I look forward to more – outdoor summer ones like the Kenosha County Fair or holiday ones like Kenosha HarborHoliday! Luckily a ton of great events take place in Kenosha County throughout the year to entertain us all. I should know as I oversee the Kenosha Area Convention & Visitors Bureau’s Event Calendar! Numerous holiday events are listed at VisitKenosha.com/Events; here are a just a few to get you started.
The UW-Parkside Winter Arts and Crafts Fair is Nov. 23. This one is always a big one! Meanwhile, Artistree takes place at Lemon Street Gallery & Artspace, Nov. 27 – Dec. 24. This is a juried one-of-a-kind giftable art show. Each year, between 32 and 40 artists have their artwork for sale.
Lightin’ Up! Downtown happens Nov. 29 in Downtown Kenosha. The City of Kenosha Christmas Tree Lighting takes place outside on the west side of the Kenosha Public Museum. Musical entertainment begins at 4 p.m., then Santa and Mayor Antaramian will count down to the tree lighting at 5 p.m. Santa will be at Rhode Center for the Arts following the tree lighting. Downtown businesses will stay open late with special sales and promotions, family-friendly activities, and more.
Christmas at Kemper is a series of holiday events (many are free) at the historic Kemper Center, which includes Durkee Mansion. The festivities begin with a gala on Nov. 30. Note: all of the events will take place at Kemper Center’s main complex this year (some changed from Anderson Arts Center). The Lakeside Players production of Miracle on 34th St. – A Live Musical Radio Play takes place Dec. 6-8 and Dec. 13-15 at Rhode Center for the Arts.
Kenosha HarborHoliday – International Market & Festival is Dec. 7-8. This year’s expanded two-day event showcases the celebrations and flavors of the holiday season across cultures. It’s a combination of indoor and outdoor events offering fun and food for the entire family, plus holiday shopping. Enjoy a special edition of Kenosha HarborMarket in two outdoor heated tents on pavement east of the museums, the Kenosha Public Museum’s International Holiday Faire, the Civil War Museum’s Victorian Christmas, family activities provided by the Kenosha Public Library, free rides with storytellers aboard the Electric Streetcars, art activities, and much more. There will be living history presentations, live music, and a holiday reception with President Abraham Lincoln. Mrs. Claus will help kids write letters to Santa – and I hear Santa himself will make a cameo appearance at the Kenosha Public Museum on the afternoon of Dec. 8.
Speaking of Santa, he will be at Jelly Belly Visitor Center on Dec. 7 from 1 to 3 p.m. The same day, the Holiday Boutique Sale takes place at Hawthorn Hollow Nature Sanctuary and Arboretum. The Kenosha Symphony Orchestra’s holiday concert is Dec. 14 at the Ralph J. Houghton Performance Center at Reuther High School, while the Kenosha Pops Concert Band presents its free Christmas concert on the same evening at Carthage College.
Log on to VisitKenosha.com/Events for details on these events and many more. For more information you can also call us at (262) 654-7307 or visit one of the two Visitor Information Centers that we staff: at 600 – 52nd Street, Suite 140 in Downtown Kenosha and at I-94 & Hwy. 165.
Visitors Bureau is collecting warm winter clothing items
This article originally appeared in The Smart Reader, November 7th, 2019
For the ninth year, the Kenosha Area Convention & Visitors Bureau’s two Visitor Information Centers are serving as collection sites for the Wisconsin Department of Tourism’s annual Big Bundle Up charity drive. You’re invited to drop off new or gently used coats, sweaters, hats, and mittens. All donations, accepted now through November 25 at our two centers, will stay in the community and be distributed to those in need through ELCA Outreach Center.
Our I-94 Visitor Information Center is located at the southeast corner of I-94 and Hwy. 165, at 10519 – 120th Ave. This time of year, it’s staffed Tuesday through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. The Downtown Visitor Information Center is staffed Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Please note if you have donated Big Bundle Up items in the past at our Downtown location, we are now at a new address. We are in the Harborview Office Center at 600 52nd Street, Suite 140. This is north of the City of Kenosha Municipal Building.
When you drop off a donation, be sure to pick up a Kenosha Area Visitors Guide and our Fall/Winter FUN 101 brochure: 101 Things to See & Do for $10 & Under – Many are FREE! We also carry the brochures of local attractions, shops, restaurants, and hotels. Let us be your resource to discover or re-discover the many great things we have to do here. Be A Tourist In Your Own Town! And that’s not all! The I-94 Visitor Information Center carries 350 different publications for destinations, attractions, and events throughout the state. Let us help you plan your next Wisconsin vacation!
This year, the Civil War Museum is also a collection site for Big Bundle Up, in conjunction with its current special exhibit: “Hold Your Horses!”. This is a display of Civil War Museum artifacts and history surrounding the First Regiment Wisconsin Cavalry. These soldiers trained in Kenosha on the grounds of Green Ridge Cemetery from November 1861 to March 1862. “Their commanders put out requests in the local paper for citizens to donate any winter clothing, blankets, hats, mittens, etc. to the men as they were ill equipped to handle the winter weather,” according to Doug Dammann, Education Manager for the Kenosha Public Museums. Big Bundle Up at the Civil War Museum is a continuation of those efforts to support people in need!
In its first eight years, the program has collected 155,893 warm winter items statewide to help families in need. In addition to the KACVB’s two locations, other collection sites are located throughout the state. The KACVB has collected more than 10,400 items.
The charity drive started in December 2011 as The Great Lakes Mitten Campaign and involved Michigan – as the “mitten state” is one of its nicknames. In light of all the buzz that surrounded the image of a Wisconsin-shaped mitten on the Wisconsin Department of Tourism’s website TravelWisconsin.com and its social media sites, the Wisconsin Department of Tourism and Michigan’s tourism brand Pure Michigan joined forces to collect mittens for charity.
So when you’re getting out your winter clothing or shopping the early holiday sales, please consider the Big Bundle Up. Think of the people who can’t afford warm clothing this winter. They thank you – and the Visitors Bureau thanks you – for your donation.
This article originally appeared in The Smart Reader, October 24th, 2019
Are you familiar with the Kenosha Area Convention & Visitors Bureau (KACVB)? We are a private, not-for-profit corporation that was established in 1986 as the official destination marketing organization for Kenosha County. We are the ones that publish the Kenosha Area Visitors Guide, and have an awesome event calendar – with a lot more information – at VisitKenosha.com. We also keep you in the know about #KenoshaFun on social media and provide helpful information at two Visitor Information Centers.
Our mission is to increase visitor appreciation of and spending in Kenosha County, thus improving the economy of the region. Tourism is a real thing here! Visitor spending in Kenosha County continued its upward trend in 2018, reaching a record $227.8 million – an increase of 6.7% over the prior year. Kenosha County currently ranks 18th out of 72 Wisconsin counties for annual visitor spending. Tourism provides jobs, lowers personal taxes, improves our local economy, and provides a positive community image, which is critical for economic development. We promote the Kenosha Area as a fun, friendly, refreshing, and affordable overnight tourism destination to individuals, groups, and businesses throughout the world. We also encourage local residents to Be A Tourist In Your Own Town!
As you explore Kenosha, be sure to use our 2019 Kenosha Area Visitors Guide and VisitKenosha.com as your reference guides! Also check out our NEW Fall/Winter FUN 101 list: 101 Things to See & Do for $10 & Under – Many are FREE! Available online, this list will give you many ideas of how you can experience Kenosha like a tourist. The list is also available in brochure format at our Visitor Information Centers.
The list is updated twice a year – for the fall/winter and spring/summer months. A variety of affordable activities and events are listed. You can refer to the list when entertaining out-of-town family and friends, planning a date night, or organizing a play date for the kids. Use the list to discover places that are new to you or to reacquaint yourself with long-time favorites. Be reminded that there are numerous attractions, parks, restaurants, shops, and events to enjoy close to home.
If you’re looking for #KenoshaFun, we have you covered! Find your fun at VisitKenosha.com. Our website has the event calendar, two e-newsletters you can sign up for, the online Visitors Guide, the FUN 101 list, our blog that community members contribute to, and much more. There’s also a photo contest you can enter online: we want your photos of local recreational activities, landmarks, festivals and events, and attractions. Think of public places where visitors can go. Help us show tourists what a wonderful place the Kenosha Area is, and you could win dinner for two at a local restaurant! Be sure to follow Visit Kenosha on social media to receive updates about events and more.
You can also stop by one of our Visitor Information Centers. The Downtown Kenosha location offers Kenosha Area brochures at 600 52nd Street, Suite 140. We also staff the Visitor Information Center at I-94 & Hwy. 165. The center carries 350 different publications for destinations, attractions, and events throughout the state. Stop at our I-94 location the first Friday of each month between noon and 3 p.m. for First Fridays – a mini expo with area businesses/attractions. You can also call us for information at (262) 654-7307.