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Mile of Music, with changes, attracts outdoor crowds

Mile of Music performance at Houdini Plaza in downtown Appleton
Mile of Music performance at Houdini Plaza in downtown Appleton
Published: Aug. 5, 2021 at 6:33 PM CDT|Updated: Aug. 5, 2021 at 8:13 PM CDT
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APPLETON, Wis. (WBAY) - If you love music, there’s plenty of it on College Avenue with Mile of Music kicking off Thursday. Musicians from across the country are descending on the city for performances at numerous venues.

There are so many options and so many stages up and down College Avenue, it can be hard for some people to pick their spot.

The event was canceled last year because of the pandemic, so people seem really excited to have Mile of Music back on the schedule. As the music festival started, many of the venues were starting to fill up, including Houdini Plaza, which has one of many outdoor stages this year.

The return of music, is a big deal in downtown Appleton after Mile of Music took a year off because of the pandemic, and now the crowd is back and so are musicians from across the country, who will perform more than 900 live sets at 70 different venues.

For musicians like Jacob Tovar of Tulsa, it feels good just to be back on the road.

“For that opportunity to come up, I took it. In fact, they wanted a full band and I was like, ‘Hey, can I? I want to come so much. I can’t put a full band together, but can I please come solo?’ because I wanted to get out of Tulsa and be back on the road again,” Tovar shared.

“It’s just such a great thing to have all of these artists down here from all over the country. Ever since they first started doing this, I’ve been living down here doing this event and I’ve gotten to know so many bands I wouldn’t have had access to, so it’s been amazing,” Don Van Ryzin of Appleton said.

“I’ve never been to nothing like it before. Everybody is just here, they’re happy to be here. They’re happy to listen to music and be their selves,” Ginger Denton from nearby Kaukauna said.

Because of the pandemic, the festival has been scaled back a bit. More than half of the performances have been moved outside and some of the smaller venues are taking a break this year as a health precaution. Masking is being recommended at indoor venues, and some venues are requiring it, like the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center and at Lawrence Chapel. Read the COVID-19 guidelines and other things to know about Mile of Music.

“I just like a small artist, small groups setting, and very good music, a lot of original music so it’s very enjoyable for me,” Neal Lutjens of Little Chute said.

Nearly all of the shows are free to attend and no tickets are required.

“I don’t think there is another festival that has this many shows over a four day period that has access to everybody. You know, Coachella and Lollapalooza and all of those places, you’ve got to pay big money. And this is top tier talent and you don’t have to pay big money,” Jay Bush from Appleton said.

Mile of Music runs through Sunday.

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