Mama Madison: Fabulous family-friendly fests

One for every girl and boy...

We aren't much more than a week in to summer vacation and already my kids have broken every "screen time" rule I've laid down, have eaten popsicles -- just popsicles, mind you -- for dinner, and have mastered 101 creative ways to let me know just how bored they are. I totally sympathize with Phineas and Ferb's older sister; we all need a little more structure to our days.

But all whining aside, both theirs and mine, there's a lot to be said for June, July and August in Madison. No snow (let's hope), Mallards' games, Farmers' Market and the return of Babcock Union Utopia-flavored evenings on the Terrace. But perhaps one of my favorite things about summer in and around town is the plethora of festivals the weekends bring. A couple weeks back it was the chance to do some 11 a.m. dancing to Bonobo Secret Handshake's rousing cover of "Groove Is In The Heart" at the Marquette Waterfront Festival. And last Saturday brought even more lakeside booty shaking, this time at Wingra Park's Jazz in the Park.

This weekend is no exception, with even more fabulous family-friendly festivities. And what I like best in particular about a couple of these offerings is how they honor two distinct cultures in our area. One pays homage to a community's Swiss heritage; New Glarus is whole lot more than a brewery. The second is a celebration of all things Latin American, but conveniently located on Madison's south side.

As my daughter learned in social studies this past school year, northern Europeans settled much of the Dairy State--- a hearty stock well represented by the characters of Heidi , Johanna Spyri's classic Swiss children's story. And the pre-Katniss heroine in braids gets her moment in the sun this coming weekend at New Glarus' annual Heidi Festival. The event gets off to a yummy start on Saturday with the Taste of New Glarus. And there is a craft fair in the village park both weekend days.

But the festival highlight is a chance to take in one of four performances of the famed Alps orphan's tale in the air-conditioned auditorium of New Glarus High School. The play is staged by local actors and features both live goats and kittens; it's hard to go wrong with cute furry animals.

On Saturday, June 23 only, a little closer to home (my home at least), Nuesta Fiesta 2012, formerly Fiesta Hispana, will be taking place at Centro Hispano on West Badger Road. The celebration is Dane County's premier salute to Latin American culture and will play host to big musical performances from Quinto Imperio (a cumbia band from Chicago), Bompleneras, an all female bomba/plena group (from the Windy City, as well), and Francisco Gonzalez, one of the founders of Los Lobos. Fiesta Hispana will also feature a low rider car show, lots of kids' activities and, of course, delicious food. I am hoping to sample some tamales de huitlacoche, the delicacy I miss most from the years I lived in Mexico.

So this summer, when I hear the first strains of a "What are we going to do today?" complaint, I'll remind the kids that the weekend, and some festival fun, isn't too far away.

And that neither is school in September. Thank goodness.

comments powered by Disqus

More to read

Loading More Articles
No More Articles

Mama Madison: Talking about race with Families for Justice

Like many parents, I look at the wide world around my kids and do my best to prepare them for life. We talk about working hard, being kind and responsible, Internet safety, stranger danger, and the (gulp) birds and the bees. But what about a topic such as race?

Mama Madison: Checking it twice

If you're like me, looking around your house in the weeks before Christmas will probably have you convinced that the last thing your kids need to find underneath the tree is a pile of new toys.

Mama Madison: Managing holiday lists

I spend a lot of time talking to my kids about how lucky we are to have what we have. Though our house is tiny and our van is unequipped with automatic doors, we have all we could ever need, and a lot of what we want.

Girls on the Run of Dane County marks a decade of changing young lives

On the evening of Nov. 6, a throng of people gathered at Monona Terrace. They were there to attend an impressive anniversary shindig, but the real buzz of excitement centered on the event's guest of honor.

Mama Madison: Mom dates are hard

You may call them "play dates," but I like the term "mom dates," especially since my kids are still too young to really care that there's another small person to squabble over toys with.

Mama Madison: No judgments with No Excuse Mom

If there is an excuse for not working out and eating healthy, I have used it: I don't have time. I'm too tired. I'll start tomorrow. I'm no good at this, I give up. I don't know where to start. Yes, I have used all of these and more.

Mama Madison: Introducing kids to your CSA box

At almost a year old, my kids are in the blissful stage of life where they'll eat nearly anything that I put in front of them (at least as long as it doesn't require much in the way of molar action).

Mama Madison: Changing tables, changing times

My family recently went through something that we have not experienced in over eight years. We have become a household that no longer harbors a crib or a changing table.

From museum to school with MMoCA

"There really is no wrong way to do it." That's how Madeline, age 13, describes creating artwork. She and her classmates at Prairie View Middle School in Sun Prairie are honing their artistic skills by participating in the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art's Art on Tour program.

Mama Madison: Coping with toddlers in a Wisconsin winter

I'm having trouble enjoying the season, because I can't keep myself from thinking about the miserable weather that's sure to be following close on the heels of the crisp, pleasant fall we've been having. I am not at all emotionally prepared to be the parent of two toddlers during a Wisconsin winter.

Mama Madison: Melissa Wardy pushes positive messages

I've always been a supporter of companies that empower women and girls, and when the creator of such a company is a fellow Wisconsinite, I get even more excited. When Melissa Wardy of Janesville got fed up with stereotypes found in clothing for girls, she started her own company.

Mama Madison: Three cheers for reading at the Wisconsin Book Festival

Do you have a little reader or an aspiring teenaged writer in your house? If so, you may want to venture to the Wisconsin Book Festival this weekend, to whet their appetite for wonderful words as well as your own.

Mama Madison: What's in a name?

When I was pregnant with my daughter, my husband and I had two names picked out. Upon her arrival we had not yet come to a conclusion on what that name would be. Everyone told us that when we saw her we would just know. We didn't.

Mama Madison: Eugster's is more than just a visit to the farm

At age 10 months, my kids have seen the zoo a lot already. I was a zoology major in college, and I have something of a zoo addiction still, so the twins (and their dad) are more or less condemned to a future rife with zoo visits.

Help for home-schoolers at the Madison Mentor Center

Home-schooling can be a lonely proposition. Even as a college professor, Juliana Hunt remembers struggling to find support to home-school her now-grown daughter. "I was always hoping to find like-minded people who were in the same position as me," she says. "I know that children learn best through a give-and-take, question-and-answer process of teaching and learning, but where do you find mentors who can make that happen?"

Mama Madison: Yummy Sprout is a wonderful resource

After sleep patterns, I think the next biggest parenting concern I have and hear about revolves around the topic of food. How can I make sure my kids are eating enough vegetables? Did I pack them a lunch that is healthy enough? What can I feed them after school that doesn't come from a box? How many gripes am I going to get about the dinner I'm about to prepare?

Mama Madison: Tips and tricks for baby air travel

As far as places to embark on Baby's First Air Travel go, Dane County Regional Airport is a pretty sound choice, especially at 6 p.m. on a Saturday night. My biggest fear was that my nine-month-old son would start screaming in the airport; my second biggest fear was that my son would start screaming and some of my former Epic colleagues would be around to hear it.

Mama Madison: Apple-picking time

The recent shift in the weather is just another sign that autumn is fast approaching. That means one of my favorite activities is just around the corner -- apple picking. My husband and I have been picking apples every fall since before our kids were born.

Mama Madison: Baby feeding recommendations

I have a lot of questions about what to put on my eight-month-olds' plates -- and, if I'm honest, a deep and abiding fear of putting the wrong thing there. Did I start them on solid foods at the right time? What's the deal with baby-led weaning -- how much self-feeding should they be doing? At what age should I give them potential allergens like shellfish or nut products?

Heartland Farm Sanctuary helps animals that help kids

Lily the potbellied pig arrived at Heartland Farm Sanctuary blind, lethargic and too overweight to walk. The children of Heartland's summer day camp program took it upon themselves to put the curl back in her tail.