Celebrate America - A New Fourth of July Tradition

6/26/2017 - Gary Eckstein

Carnival at Celebrate America Kenosha WI
Kenosha WI Civic Veterans Parade 4th of July Weekend
Celebrate America Entertainment
Celebrate America festival entertainment
Family Activities at Celebrate America in Kenosha WI

Imagine yourself in a place offering three days of admission-free entertainment.  Now imagine that place is on the scenic shore of one of the largest fresh water lakes on our planet. Imagine your loved ones are with you and everyone is relaxed, there is music in the air and everyone is smiling. You have not entered the Twilight Zone, you have entered Celebrate America on Kenosha’s Lakefront - July 2 – 4, 2017.  This year’s event will feature more than 25 musical acts including Marshal Crenshaw and Los Straightjackets. Activities for children and families, more than 20 food vendors, a carnival, canine events, a marketplace and (of course) fireworks are all part of the Kenosha Fun that is lined up.

My family has spent the past two years at this event during the 4th of July weekend. A change for us compared to most of the past decade when we’ve passed the 4th holiday travelling or spending time in Chicago. I have to say, the past two years in Kenosha have been as enjoyable and relaxing as any I can remember.  The Kenosha festivities are accessible, offer quality entertainment, are not too crowded, provide spectacular scenery and are a good entertainment value. If you live in the Chicago or Milwaukee areas, you’ll find Kenosha a great alternative to more distant Wisconsin destinations.

Celebrate America’s musical lineup hasn’t been finalized as of this writing, but the bands are consistently some of the best in the area. In 2015, we saw two performances by the legendary Paul Cebar and in 2016, we saw a number of up-and-coming bands that we really enjoyed.  The variety of music has wide appeal, too. We sat in on some really nice country/folk acts last year that were very pleasant - even though it’s not our usual music preference.  We wanted to sample more music but with five stages, it’s too much to take in everything – what a problem, eh? Too many quality bands to listen to … and all FREE!

We also enjoyed the water shows, especially the ski performances. Our grandson loved the carnival and his favorite food truck featuring shaved ice with what seems like dozens of self-serve flavors to splash on top. We’ve sampled a number of the food vendors – local restaurants and food trucks abound! The variety and quality are outstanding. We tend to go earlier in the day and have had the opportunity to chat with owners of local restaurants – it’s always interesting to hear their stories and discuss their menu developments, etc. Let me stress that that happens early in the day – once the rush hits by mid-afternoon, noshing kicks into high gear, and vendors and event-goers don’t slow down. Even at full capacity, the crowds are more manageable than events in the city, though.

Don't forget, the Civic Veterans Parade takes place the Sunday before the 4th of July. That means this Sunday, July 2, the steets of Uptown and parts of Downtown Kenosha will be occupied with bands, classic cars, tumbling acts, floats, and more to celebrate America's Birthday!

You can come for a day if you live out of town, but you might consider sticking around for the long weekend. Local hotels offer competitive deals and our friends from out of town constantly remark about the great prices on food and entertainment here. Occupying the rest of time in the area won't be difficult as there are plenty of things to do! From family friendly activities to nightlife spots for grownups, as well as outdoor recreation, historical sites, museums, world-class parks, and lots and lots of dining options - there is something for everyone! It’s easy to turn a one-day holiday into several days of family getaway!

Pro Tip: Things get very busy at the lakefront as the sun goes down so make certain you arrive early and get a good seat for the fireworks. Kenosha has always had an outstanding fireworks show and this year’s event is sure to please, too.  Celebrate America is sponsored by the City of Kenosha, Happenings Magazine, and other contributors. 

Gary Eckstein

Community Blogger

From Montello, WI. MA in Sociology. Former Army Reserve and National Guard Officer. Instructor at UW-Parkside and Carthage College. Husband to Varsha. Photographer. Guitarist and Lover of blues.