When it comes to summer in Kenosha this year, it’s one if by land and two — or more — if by sea.
Dennis DuChene and Meridith Jumisko, who make their living highlighting what’s great about Kenosha, are excited about the upcoming tourist season.
“We are looking forward to another very busy summer, with something happening just about every weekend,” said DuChene, president of the Kenosha Area Convention & Visitors Bureau.
One of the highlights, he said, has already opened.
“The biggest new thing downtown this summer is The Stella Hotel. It really resonates with traditional Kenosha,” DuChene said of the renovated historic property that opened in April.
That’s the land part of downtown — which also includes the Kenosha HarborMarket, free outdoor concerts and plenty of places to eat and shop.
Here’s the sea: “Later this summer, the tall ships will be back for the first time in more than a decade,” Jumisko said of the sailing vessels that will visit the Kenosha harbor.
The Tall Ships Festival, Aug. 1-4, “should draw a crowd from the Chicago area,” DuChene said, “because the only other stop for the ships this summer is Green Bay. The last time Kenosha hosted the ships, they also visited Chicago.”
Before the tall ships dock here, however, the summer season gets going June 1 with a History Center Block Party.
“This is a kick-off to the season,” DuChene said, “and will include music, food and vendors and a car show open to older cars of all models. There will also be registration for the 2020 AMC/Nash Homecoming Car Show, which is the largest show of its kind in the world and will have about a thousand cars.”
July brings parades and fireworks and, at the end of that month, the Taste of Wisconsin Festival.
“That event draws close to 40,000 people,” DuChene said, adding that a state tourism grant helped the Kiwanis Club of Western Kenosha get it started.
“The Kiwanis has done a great job with that event,” he said, adding that “most of these events — the tall ships, the marathon — are volunteer driven.”
“If you want to be involved in your community,” Jumisko added, “come out and volunteer at your favorite event.”
Get outside NOW
If you can’t wait until June to get outside at the lakefront, Jumisko points out that the HarborMarket starts its outdoor season on May 11 … adding “bundle up for the first few weeks.”
And this Saturday, the Wisconsin Marathon “will draw people from 33 different states and five different countries,” she said.
“After 11 years, this has become a huge event,” DuChene added.
This year, the marathon — which has a dairy theme and is billed as “the cheesiest” race — also falls on “Star Wars Day,” which could bring out Wookiees in addition to runners sporting cow costumes.
DuChene has been with the KACVB for 22 years, the last 11 as the organization’s president, which means he knows everything about everything (right?) when it comes to local events.
But even he “still can’t believe how much everything has changed. People who haven’t been here for 20 years don’t realize all the changes. There’s so much here; it’s pretty exciting.”
To get started on your summer adventures, DuChene and Jumisko suggest picking up the 95-page 2019 Kenosha Area Visitors Guide, which features plenty of events, plus “more than 40 locally-owned restaurants,” DuChene said.
You can grab a free copy at the Kenosha Area Convention & Visitors Bureau downtown office, 812 56th St.; the I-94 Visitor Information Center; and at several local businesses. (To order a free copy of the Kenosha Area Visitors Guide, call 262-654-7307 or log on at www.visitkenosha.com/contact.)
“People need to get out and explore their community — like we say, be a tourist in your own town,” DuChene said.
The guide, Jumisko said, “is for visitors — and locals.”
Have a comment? Email Liz at email@example.com, or call her at 262-656-6271.