I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: there is ALWAYS something going on in Door County! The middle of February offers live music, performances at theatres and galleries every day. But WOW, summer 2012 seems to have exploded with things to do and places to go to completely immerse yourself in the arts. In some cases, you don’t even have to plan for your memorable encounter.
In just 10 days’ time, between the last week of June and the first week of July, I was wonderfully inundated with things to do, music to enjoy and laughter to behold at the expense of an outrageous “Nerd!”
So, well start with “The Nerd” — currently showing at Peninsula Players Theatre until July 22. My best friend, Karen, is my reliable date when Phil or Hadley aren’t available. We met at the Players’ beer garden for a Pimm’s and lemonade, and to sit and enjoy the sun sinking lower on the horizon over the water. Who would have known that our peaceful beginning would be shattered as we laughed our way through the performance for the next two hours?
Honestly, the hilarity of the main character, Rick (played by Sean Fortunato), had me convinced throughout the show that this must be the most fun he’s EVER had on stage. He was so annoying that I couldn’t help but give myself a headache from laughing so much!
There are still three other shows to see this year at Peninsula Players — the musical “Chicago,” Agatha Christie’s “Murder on the Nile” and “Lombardi.” I strongly encourage you to find time to visit Peninsula Players this year, and create a lasting tradition for the future.
Two days later, I was lucky enough to attend the opening concert of the 2012 season at Birch Creek Music Performance Center, located just outside of Egg Harbor. Again, I was accompanied by Karen, who had never been to Birch Creek before (I know, I gasped too — the horror of knowing someone who lives in Door County still hadn’t experienced a concert in The Barn!).
If you’ve never been to Birch Creek before, it’s a very unique place — offering advanced learning opportunities for (mostly) high school-aged music students who want to improve their skills and possibly make a career out of performing. During the winter months, applications are submitted by students hoping for a spot in one of the four separate two-week camps. Birch Creek has a full campus, where students and faculty all live on-site, dining in a shared hall, learning, rehearsing and finally performing multiple times for appreciative ticket-holders. The students comes from 15-20 different states (depending on the year) to learn from faculty members who have resumes that are impressive, to say the least.
The first session of each season is dedicated to symphonic music, where strings and brass work together to create amazing sounds. Close your eyes and you could be anywhere, listening to professionals perform — instead, you are inside a magnificent, 100-year-old barn filled with performing teenagers and their teachers.
We thoroughly enjoyed our evening and are trying to find a date when we can attend a concert during the percussion session, which runs July 12 through July 21. Two separate two-week jazz sessions begin July 25 and run through August 18, when the season comes to an end (with the exception of some special events that they hold throughout the year). Be sure to plan a visit Birch Creek, where you can enjoy an evening of music that you won’t soon forget!
Before I knew it, the 4th of July arrived, along with my sister, Michelle, and her two youngest kids, Collin and Mikayla — both teenagers. I’m never quite sure what to do with “big-city” kids when they hang out in the country with me, but I can say that those two loved every minute of their visit and announced that they would move to Door County in a heartbeat! They couldn’t believe all of the things that they had available to do, and so much more that there wasn’t time for.
We headed into Baileys Harbor for their 4th of July celebration, which included plenty of live music. After a quick stop for a beverage and a bite to eat from one of the food stands, we carried our goodies to a picnic table set up on the town hall lawn and were immediately swept away by the amazing voice of Eli Mattson. Eli is a local Door County “boy” who made it big as the second-place winner of NBC’s hit show “America’s Got Talent” in 2008. Hadley, Phil and I have been big fans of his for years, and it was great introducing his talent to the rest of my family members. The weather was perfect, Eli’s voice and keyboard skills were top-notch and the audience enjoyed every minute of his performance. Eli does a great job of introducing his songs by telling a story, which makes you feel like you’re one of the family — sitting in his living room, sharing secrets. After he finished performing for the day, he took as much time as was needed to talk to every fan who wanted to meet him and have a picture taken with him, or to autograph CDs. Hadley, Collin and Mikayla all posed for photos with Eli — what a memory!
Audiences don’t just have one “look” — there are young children dancing and whirling, middle-aged groups of friends singing along, and the more mature audience members sitting hand-in-hand and smiling at the beauty of the moment. My sister decided that she wanted to experience this again during her three-day visit, so we made plans to attend Live Music on the Lawn in Baileys Harbor again on Friday evening.
There are six different communities that offer free outdoor concerts during the summer: Ephraim, Fish Creek, Sister Bay, Sturgeon Bay, Egg Harbor and Baileys Harbor. Details on dates and times for each event can be found here.
On Friday, July 6, we were treated to some incredible blues, courtesy of the Baileys Harbor Community Association and the group Mighty Mouth, led by nationally-acclaimed Baileys Harbor resident and blues man, Pete Thelen. We brought our camp chairs along (blankets spread out were popular, too) and grabbed a drink from the Baileys Harbor Cornerstone Pub, conveniently located across the street. People sang and danced, and it was much too soon when the final song was being played. It was another wonderful memory — this one for just my sister and myself.
Speaking of making memories, I just have to share with you this very special video from American Folklore Theatre, with a little description to tease your first:
American Folklore Theatre has been performing original musical comedies under the stars at Peninsula State Park in Door County for more than 20 years. Their unique brand of family-friendly theatre allows them to create lifelong fans who return year after year. On July 6, 2012, one lifelong fan could think of no better place to propose to his girlfriend than at the very place that holds some of his happiest childhood memories.
The performance that night was “Belgians in Heaven” — a fan favorite. Two characters from the show, Roger and Henry, were in on the surprise and helped things along.
Watch the video here.
That’s one great thing about our arts scene — whenever possible, our performers and artists will help you to create the memory that you want to have of your time in Door County.
What would you like YOUR Door County memory to be?