A celebration of the harvest, featuring a hand-built, human-powered puppet parade, music, performance, local foods, and a fire circus.
7 Reasons to Support the Viroqua Harvest Celebration & Parade1. To provide opportunities for kids to experience the arts.
The parade staff works with literally hundreds of school-age children and teenagers through open workshops (September 15, 22, and 29 at 1 p.m.) and studio field trips. This year, we’re bringing the parade into the classroom to reach even more kids. Your donation makes it possible.
2. To empower kids.
Kids actively help dream, build, and perform the parade. That’s an amazing experience for a child or a teenager. This year, we’re offering internships for teens and young adults. Your donation makes it possible.
3. To bring talent into rural Wisconsin.
Artists from Minneapolis and Chicago already come to Viroqua to help build the parade. This year, we’ve hired an artist-in-residence, Mary Plaster, who will lead master-classes for kids and adults. Your donation makes it possible.
4. To keep talent in rural Wisconsin.
In the first two years of the parade, artists volunteered their time to get the ball rolling. This year, we’ve hired four local artists to design the parade and help kids and other volunteers build it. Puppets as job creators! Your donation makes it possible.
5. To help the rural economy we live in.
It’s a sure thing: Public art celebrations like ours attract folks from all over the region. They have a good time, and they support our local businesses. This year, we’re actively seeking to expand our media visibility in nearby urban markets. Your donation makes it possible.
6. To make Viroqua an even cooler place to be.
Annual community celebrations like the harvest parade are eagerly anticipated from year to year. Imagine growing up in a town where you get to make giant puppets every year! This year, our outreach coordinator is working to include even more of our community in the fun. Your donation makes it possible.
7. To have a blast on Saturday, October 13.
This year’s parade promises to be even bigger and better than last year’s. Whether you live in town or across the country, come build a puppet, or march in the parade, or just grab a chair and watch. After the parade, we’ll head to the park for a pageant, song and dancing, games and activities, food and drink, and a fire circus. This year, we’ll keep the party rolling with a Harvest Dance Party at the Viking Inn. Your donation makes it possible.
HERE'S THE BACKGROUND
Parades, festivals, vaudeville, roadshows, medicine shows… wherever human beings have congregated, such festivities have flowered—to entertain… and to celebrate living.
Here in Viroqua, a tiny town in Wisconsin’s Driftless Region, we mark the harvest every year on the second Saturday of October with the Viroqua Harvest Celebration & Parade. The event centers on an artist-created, human-powered puppet parade that marches down main street and into the town park, where we enjoy food, performance, music, dance, and the friendly companionship of friends, neighbors, and strangers.
The event began in 2010 when a bunch of local artists, who’d worked on similar events around the world, decided to bring the festivities home to our town. It’s been a huge success. Literally hundreds of volunteers, including entire classrooms of children, have come together to make the parade a reality. Artists and organizers donated hundreds of hours to get the event off the ground.
And now, as we enter our third year, it’s time to build an organization to sustain the event for the future. We’re incorporating as a nonprofit organization, and we’re raising money to rent a studio space and hire an outreach and volunteer coordinator. We've hired artists to design the parade, and an artist-in-resident to help work with school children and others interested in learning puppetry skills. We're increasing our budget for the artists, musicians, and performers who help make the celebration a success.
But that’s not all. We’re expanding the ways in which we meet our mission—“to build community, foster connections in the arts, and provide artistic opportunities to youths and adults.” In addition to the artist residency program, we are expanding our outreach to area youth through workshops and by working with schools and other institutions. We’ll be expanding our live performance schedule to bring more lively arts entertainment into the region.
Here at home we’re engaged in a comprehensive capital campaign. We’re working with local businesses and individuals who share our vision. We’re hosting several events designed to bring money into the organization. We’re creating a stock of merchandise (including a fabulous puppetry Midway) that will generate earned revenue for the group.
And we’re turning to Kickstarter. Specifically, we hope to raise $7,500. We will use these funds to support our efforts to reach out to area schools and to fund the talented artists who work directly with children, providing enrichment opportunities to our community.
You can learn more about the parade at our facebook page: www.facebook.com/viroquaharvest.
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