The place to be

Appleton holds events aimed at building community

Jessica Thiel
Posted by of Insight Publications

Summer may be on its way out, but Appleton is heating up with two events aimed at drawing the community together.

Appleton Downtown Inc. has reimagined its Downtown Diner en Blanc, part of a nationwide pop-up dinner event, and paired it with its final installment of this year’s Art on the Town. Called Downtown Dinner, Lynn Schemm, ADI’s creative coordinator, says the organization wanted to take the concept and make it more personal to Fox Cities community members.

Taking place in Houdini Plaza from 5 to 8 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 15, people may bring their own food and beverages or pick up some grub at one of downtown’s restaurants or food trucks. Guests can bring their own table and chairs, as well as linens, décor, cutlery and china — creativity encouraged, or use the limited number of tables set up in the plaza.

“It’s a great way to experience downtown in a different, unique way that you might not,” Schemm says.

After dinner, people can stroll Art on the Town, featuring PARK(ing) Day, part of an annual worldwide event where artists, designers and community members transform metered parking spots into temporary public parks.

Artists and performers will be showcased at a host of downtown venues, including shops, restaurants, museums, the Creative Parklet Place, Houdini Plaza and even in the mini parks — creating and performing art, with many artists offering their items for sale.

Also known for its focus on art and performance, Pulse Young Professionals Network, a program of the Fox Cities Chamber of Commerce and Fox Cities Regional Partnership, returns with Bazaar After Dark. The popular Fox Cities night market will hold its fourth iteration on Wednesday, Sept. 20, returning to the place it all began — Wisconsin Avenue in Appleton.

The event is dedicated to revitalizing and drawing positive attention to underutilized business districts in the Fox Valley, while fostering community collaborations through art, music and common experiences. This year the event was aligned with all three of Habitat for Humanity’s Rock the Block Community Builds of 2017 and served as a celebration point for their volunteers.

In partnership with the Fox Valley Food Truck Rally, attendees can enjoy a variety of food along with live art and music, local business participation and the dog-welcoming atmosphere many have grown to appreciate at past BAD events.

“We can’t wait to return to the neighborhood that not only gave us a home for our very first night market, but provided the people that came out by the thousands to support it,” Nikki Hessel, director of Pulse Young Professionals, said in a press release. “Being able to highlight the spirit, growth and vitality of this sometimes-overlooked business district is at the core of the mission of Bazaar After Dark.”

Hessel takes the helm of the event for the first time following the departure of Pulse’s former director, Adrienne Palm, who now serves as director of startup accelerator company gener8tor.

BAD is an inclusive, family-friendly street market designed to illuminate the potential of a once-underappreciated area of the Fox Cities by transforming it into a weird and wonderful temporary marketplace under the dim glow of Edison bulbs. The BAD night markets held earlier this year, in April in Kaukauna and July in Menasha, were both overwhelming successes with over 5,500 and 7,000 attendees, respectively.

Photo by Graham Washatka