The night Unity the Band played the first event in the brand new waterfront pavilion in Sister Bay, Door County, an idea was born. Paige Funkhouser, from the Sister Bay Advancement Association and Pita Katobalavu, the leader of Unity chatted after the show about bringing a reggae and world music festival to Sister Bay, creating a culturally-inclusive event like no other in Door County. The renovated waterfront park in Sister Bay will be completed just in time to host “Midwest SunSplash Music Festival” on August 7-8. 2015.
Sister Bay’s freshly reconstructed Waterfront Park and Beach (2,000 consecutive feet of public waterfront), 650 feet of sand beach and 900 square foot performance pavilion provide a “we couldn’t ask for better” venue. “Our dream is that the waterfront venue in Sister Bay could draw people from around the US, even the world. Our goal for this first year is to create the foundation to build this peace-promoting culturally-inclusive event into an annual “destination event” for the Midwest, said festival director Kay “Midwest Sunsplash Music Festival will start off with three bands performing Friday, August 7, 4-9 p.m. at the Sister Bay Waterfront Performance Pavilion, then move to the Campfire Stage for an “after hours” acoustic jam and drum circle at the nearby Sister Bay Sports Complex-turned-Campground for this event, ending the night with fireworks at midnight. Music will again kick off at 2 p.m., Saturday, August 8, as six acts perform a wide variety of styles of music ending at midnight.
“For year one, we are focusing on the music, because we know that if the music is awesome, people will return,” stated Katobalavu. “We have unique music acts coming to Door County, featuring original music from Midwest bands who play Reggae, Funk, Rock, Celtic, Blues and Alternative.” Bands include Katobalavu’s Unity the Band, Whiskey of the Damned, Recalcitrant, Big Wig Mechanics, Honey and the 45’s, Mary Jane Gang, Natty Nation, Wifee & the Huzz Band and Earth to Clark playing over the 2 day event.
The vendors are also more diverse than the norm, sharing ethnic rituals, natural and peace-building goods, and native artistry. Vendors may include a Fijian Kava Ceremony, Polynesian Dance lessons, Fiber Artists, Henna Tattoo Artists and groups such as Maya First, a non-profit organization raising funds for schools in Belize. “We love to see this variety of not-so-typical arts and crafts, as well as multi-culturally inclusive entertainment and causes adding a unique twist to the typical beach festival,” said Funkhouser.
Food and drinks will also kick up the average festival fare a notch with a variety of foods typical of traveling “food trucks.” The festival organizers are recruiting food vendors with lots of options for the weekend long event, with cultural-diverse cuisine available as well as standard festival goodies. The focus will be on locally sourced foods that include healthy options mixed in with summer treats.
A campground is being set up for the weekend at the nearby Sister Bay Sports Complex to allow festival-goers the option of spending the night in a tent or camper. A campground stage will light up at 9pm on Friday night after the Beach Front Stage music wraps up. “Camping really makes the festival by adding that communal setting for people to get to really interact. The Village of Sister Bay has helped make this happen, and rumor has it they are holding a bonfire and fireworks especially for the campers,” according to Funkhouser.
The Village of Sister Bay is undergoing a major downtown revitalization, including the previously mentioned reconstructed waterfront park. The new sand beach will be completed for summer events in 2015, complementing the performance pavilion constructed in 2014. The Village will host Midwest Sunsplash in tandem with the existing Door County Festival of Fine Arts (2015 marks the 12th annual DCFA) in the Waterfront Park. DCFA is hosted by the Sister Bay Advancement Association, and showcases artists based in Door County, including performances from local musicians. Artists perform demonstrations of their craft and techniques at various points during the day. The pairing of these two arts-focused events will attract diverse crowds that will also complement, and spillover into, the successful art scene that exists in Door County.
The festival runs Friday from 4pm to 9 at the Waterfront Park, 10693 North Bay Shore Drive, Highway 42, Sister Bay, before moving to the nearby Sports Complex at from 9 – midnight. The festival opens at noon on Saturday with music from 2 to midnight at the Waterfront Park. Tickets are $30 for General Admission and an extra $10 for Camping per person. Tickets are available online at www.midwestsunsplash.com and at the door the day of the event. Kids under 10 are free.