I was born and raised in the Fox Cities and when college time came around, made the somewhat surprising (or so I’m told) decision to stick around and spend four years at Lawrence. Seeing Appleton and the surrounding area through the eyes of Lawrence students who hadn’t spent the last eighteen years hanging out on College Ave made me reopen my fairly jaded eyes. This summer, my Lawrence roommate Sadie (a Minneapolis native) has stayed to work and live in Appleton, and I’m making it my mission to go on some local adventures, showing her and reminding myself of all the delights the Fox Cities have to offer in the summer, enjoying some of the things that those of us who have been around a while tend to forget about completely.
Downtown Appleton’s Heid Music Summer Concert series was our first stop on this hometown tourism adventure. As someone who spends a fair amount of time in downtown Appleton in the summer, I have walked past many of these concerts, but had never actually attended one close up. This last week’s concert took place in Jones Park. The experience of walking into the somewhat sheltered bowl of Jones Park and seeing a stage, a crowd of people, and food and beverage vendors spread out before us was strangely exciting and made it feel even more like a hidden gem of an experience.
The local music -Fond du Lac’s Verona Grove and Oshkosh’s Road Trip- was a lot of fun, with an enthusiastic crowd frequently singing along to favorite songs, but the real joy was in the community atmosphere. Kids played on the playground, local establishments sold food, and there was a perfectly relaxed sense of summer. Sadie and I got ourselves slices of Muncheez pizza, and smoothies to fend off the heat, and staked out a corner of shady grass to enjoy the event. In true Fox Cities fashion, we quickly ran into people we knew: a friend from Lawrence and the little sister of someone I knew in middle school… It was a definite taste of Appleton, and one I was pleased to have a reason to try for the first time.
For both tourists and longtime Fox Cities residents, Sadie and I would both definitely recommend the Thursday concert series, whether or not you know any of the bands. The concerts continue every Thursday at 5 p.m. until the end of August.
Come back soon for another hometown tourism adventure!