Fond du Lac is “Around the Corner!”

aroundcorner2BY Michael Casper

Actor/Comedian/TV Host John McGivern brought his MPTV crew to Fond du Lac last May to film what is the fifth season of Around the Corner. McGivern said he’s been lobbying for the show to highlight our fair area for some time now.

“We do thirteen episodes a year,” McGiven said “and when we plan where we’re going, we look at a map of Wisconsin and decide on locations centrally located, to the east, and places to the west, because the show plays in Minnesota, Illinois, Iowa…so we like to promote our state to our neighbors. But I’ve been wanting to visit Fond du Lac for three years now because I wanted to include the Holyland with it.

McGivern went to high school at St. Lawrence Seminary.

“Finally, my producer relented (laugh) I think to get me off her back about visiting Fond du Lac.”

Two show producers visit the city to be featured ahead of the actual shoot.

“They both came back,” McGivern said “and said, ‘we’re really excited about Fond du Lac! And we’re going to reach out beyond the city, and kind of do the county.’ We realized there’s a lot to do in the Fond du Lac area.”

Craig Molitor is the President of the Fond du Lac Area Convention and Visitors Bureau.

“When ‘Around the Corner’ contacted us, we knew we faced a daunting task,” Molitor said “I mean, where do you begin?  Fond du Lac and the Lake Winnebago Region is bursting with compelling story lines, driven by our unique assets, and all the wonderful folks that make our community special.  Of course in a TV show format there is a very finite amount of time allotted, so we were asked to winnow down our two dozen ‘must see’ ideas to about six storylines.”

The Fond du Lac Visitors Bureau team members each floated their favorites.

“We then internally sorted through those to get to our short list,” Molitor said. “The reason that this was so tough was that there are some really well known and beloved community attributes (such as Schreiners Restaurant) and some lesser known, but not to be diminished aspects, such as the incredible turkey hunting found around here.” 

It takes five days to shoot one 28-minute episode, and McGivern’s producers took Molitor’s lead.

“It was a great working relationship,” Molitor said “the producers of this show are smart, funny, and above all extremely good at what they do. We worked closely with them to flesh out the story lines that were most compelling. We also switched out a few of the ideas we had originally presented to them in favor of storylines they felt were more unique to the area. It served as a great reminder of how lucky we are to live in and promote Fond du Lac and the Lake Winnebago Region!”

The Visitors Bureau acted as a conduit.

“I made our Director of Client Services Erin Lund, available to the producers from the very first meeting,” Molitor said.  “Erin has a real skill in getting things of this nature done. We developed the ideas for the story lines, asked the respective individuals if they would be interested in participating, made the introductions between the show’s producers and the featured participants, helped to arrange the filming time slots, and then we got the heck out of the way so the real magic could happen. John McGivern is a one-of-a-kind performer.  He is funny and humble and naturally curious.  He brings out the best in folks.”

Now McGivern and his staff travel for thirteen weeks, to each of the cities “Around the Corner,” for their respective ‘opening nights.’

“The ‘premiere’ nights are really, really cool,” McGivern said “and we’re looking forward to visiting the THELMA. Kevin Miller and his staff have been great. In past years I think the lowest attendance was 300, and the most was around 1,200 folks. They love to watch the show, and are like, ‘can we watch it again?’ And I tell them, ‘No! You have to go home now (laugh).’”

Underscoring Fond du Lac means a lot to our area.

“I tell the team here at the Visitors Bureau that a community has to be a great place in which to live in order for it to be a great place to visit,” Molitor said. “We know what an incredible gift it is to live and work in and around Fond du Lac, and the Lake Winnebago Region.  It is a fantastic opportunity to be able to share this with others throughout the state.”

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