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Ask a Local: Jeff Herbst Artistic Director, Northern Sky Theater


Originality and tradition, community and collaboration. Northern Sky Theater strives to meet these criteria, from new plays and musicals written and performed each season to post-production meet-and-greets with the actors. Artistic Director Jeff Herbst has been a part of it all since 1991 when the professional theater was officially formed as an offshoot of the Heritage Ensemble, then the American Folklore Theatre. 

Today he oversees original content during the summer and fall series, including one- and two-act plays, musicals, a variety show featuring core theater members and guests, and Home for the Holidays performances between Christmas and New Year’s. The live stage acts take place outdoors at the Peninsula State Park Amphitheater and at Northern Sky’s Gould Theater, which has tall windows to let in natural light, a patio, a fire pit, and room for food trucks on its 40-acre campus.

We asked Jeff about his experiences in Door County. He shares the places he likes to go and the things he likes to do to inspire you on your vacation to the peninsula. 

Q. What’s your can’t-miss event in Door County?
A. At the 4th of July Celebration in Baileys Harbor, the whole theater dresses up in costumes, and we hand out candy along the parade route.

Q. What other places do you go for art and culture?
A. Door County has such a strong visual arts presence. I love to go gallery-hopping, from Woodwalk Gallery and Fine Line Designs Gallery to the work of Emmett Johns. The Hardy Gallery is right on the dock of Green Bay and features local artists at their juried shows. It’s cool hearing the waves crash up against the breakwall while walking around the gallery.

Q. What’s your favorite water activity?
A. I like to walk along the shore of Whitefish Dunes State Park or go out with my sister in her boat on Green Bay.

Q. What’s your favorite hole-in-the-wall restaurant?
A. Cornerstone Pub has a great chicken dinner. Also, each year Coyote Roadhouse caters an outdoor picnic barbecue as a thank-you to Northern Sky Theater’s 200-plus volunteers. The restaurant is on Kangaroo Lake, which is a nice spot for taking out small watercraft.

Q. How else do you enjoy Door County’s natural beauty?
A. I like to run, bike, and hike throughout the year and explore Door County Land Trust areas. I love to cook, and my vegetable garden thrives throughout the summer and fall. 

Q. What’s the best place to watch the sunset?
A. Watching the full moon rise over Baileys Harbor is amazing. When you’re on a boat in the middle of Green Bay, watching the sunset from there is stunning, too.

When you visit Door County, plan to attend a musical, drama or comedy performed indoors or out at Northern Sky Theater. 

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