Brass differential

UPDATE: Wausau Events cancels season through July

Update Thursday, April 2:


Wausau Events announced Thursday that the organization is canceling its season through the end of July.

The decision was a difficult one to make, Executive Director Madison Nowak said in a press release. The cancellation covers Concert on the Square shows through July, as well this year’s Balloon Rally and Rib Fest.

“We understand there will be many questions,” Nowak said in a release. “We’ll be reaching out to sponsors, vendors, musicians, and community partners in the coming days.”

Nowak says while the goal has been to deliver the best possible event experiences for fans and sponsors, the safety of the community comes first. “We look forward to seeing you in August,” Nowak wrote. “Until then, please take care of yourself and one another.”

The announcement came after a Thursday morning board meeting where the decision was made.

(First published in the March 26, 2020 issue of City Pages)

Wausau Events makes only minor adjustments to its summer slate of festivals and concerts


Brass Differential returns for a July 1 Concert on the Square

The annual Concerts on the Square in downtown Wausau will begin a few weeks later than initially planned, and the family-friendly Summer Kick-Off /Father’s Day weekend is canceled this year.

     But other than that, Wausau Event’s beloved slate of summer fun is proceeding full steam ahead… pending, of course, the current state of emergency surrounding the coronavirus pandemic, cautions Pete Valiska, board president of Wausau Events.

     “The main reason for doing this and evaluating the schedule is to ensure the health, safety and welfare of all the folks who participate in and attend our events,” Valiska says.

     The largest summer festival, the Balloon & Rib Fest and Chalkfest, remains on schedule as it has been in previous years — the weekend following the July Fourth holiday, at the Wausau municipal airport. The tremendous logistics of that event, which sees tens of thousands of people, requires early planning. After consulting with local and state health officials, the Wausau Events board determined they wouldn’t schedule anything until late June, and that July and August events could proceed as usual.

     Besides, Valiska says, Wausau Events already bought three nights worth of fireworks for the Balloon Fest.

     Meanwhile, the shows also will go on — postponed — at the Grand Theater, but the arts organization is being significantly impacted by public gathering bans to prevent the spread of COVID-19. “It’s had an impact already that I’ve never seen in my years in the business,” says Executive Director Sean Wright.

     The theater has had to postpone and/or canceled 15 performances, including seven sold out shows, from mid-March through May. Some already have been rescheduled in summer.

     So far, the Grand has not laid off employees. Using built up reserves, all their full-time employees are able to work remotely during this time. They made the decision to also pay occasional employees — stagehands, bartenders, security, etc. — for the hours they would have worked over the first month of lost shows to soften the impact for those individuals.

     Not all the postponed shows have yet been rescheduled. That has been difficult to do as many performers and shows are postponing entire tours, or already have different summer and fall touring plans.

     Two postponed shows this spring, The Fab Four and The Secret Sisters, have already been rescheduled for Aug. 17 and Aug. 19, respectively.

     The Grand typically would be nailing down their 2020-21 season, but Wright says that some shows may stop touring completely for now. The 2020-21 season announcement is still planned for early June, as usual. The theater will look for opportunities to add shows to the season as they’ve done the past, so keep an eye out for those. A very busy slate of events is expected once they can welcome people back.

Wausau Events 2020 summer schedule

June 24 | Concert on the Square – Unity

July 1 | Concert on the Square – Brass Differential

July 8 | Concert on the Square – Stephen Cooper and the Nobody Famous

July 9–12 | Balloon & Rib Fest, and Chalkfest

July 15 | Concert on the Square – Johnny & the MoTones

July 22 | Concert on the Square – Copper Box

July 29 | Concert on the Square – Mamma Ginger

Aug. 5 | Concert on the Square – Substyle

Aug. 12 | Concert on the Square – Big Mouth & The Power Tool Horns

Aug. 19 | Concert on the Square – Conscious Pilot

Aug. 21–22 | Big Bull Falls Blues Fest

All dates, times, and performers are subject to change based upon federal, state, and local guidance as it relates to the COVID-19 pandemic.