Native culture celebrates 30th year of Indian Summer Festival
Indian Summer Festival celebrates its 30th anniversary on Sept. 9-11, 2016, at the lakefront Maier Festival Park.
Both traditional and contemporary Native culture will be shared throughout the weekend.
This year, the festival includes crowd favorites like the competition pow wow, choreographed fireworks on Saturday and contemporary as well as traditional Native American performers.
By popular demand, Brule returns Saturday night to headline the Miller Main Stage. The group is known for thrilling audiences with a merging of cultural rock, traditional dancers in full regalia and theatrical instrumentations.
Other “don’t miss” performers include Supaman (hip hop artist from Crow Agency, Mont.), The Dineh Tah Navajo Dancers, The Jamie Kelli Band and the Dance Academy of Mexico featuring Aztec style dancers. Another must-see is the multi-cultural drum jam on Friday night.
Cultural Craft Workshops are planned for visitors interested in learning how to make a traditional corn husk doll, flute or drum. The workshops are available throughout the weekend, with additional information available at the Indian Summer Festival website.
There are lots of family-friendly attractions at the festival. Go Native Now is a fun way to learn about Eastern and Western tribal living from both a man’s and a woman’s perspective. The Mountain Men bring history to life in a European settler camp reenactment. The Fiddle and Jig Contest hosted by Richie Plass and the Bed Bugs Band brings fiddlers and jiggers of all ages together for a very spirited competition filled with humor (with winners chosen by audience response).
Foodies will flock to the festival’s food demonstrations featuring traditional ingredients. Among the demonstrators is Chef Bob Barton, MATC Culinary Arts instructor, who is a member of the Oneida Nation. Menu items for his demos include Candied Pacific Smoked Salmon with Corn Fritter and Wojapi Salsa, and Mini Fry bread Duck Taco with Pear Cactus Salsa. (The bison for his Bison Jerky will be provided by The Oneida Farms.) Other food demonstrators include Chase Anderson, chef at the Potawatomi Hotel & Casino’s Dream Dance Steak Restaurant; the WOLFE group from the Gerald L. Ignace Indian Health Center and Adam Kessel, author of “Zombie Gardening.”
A part of every festival is eating the FOOD. Vendors offer traditional foods for purchase – frybread, Indian tacos, bison burgers, wild rice, roasted corn and berry desserts – as well as regular festival favorites. At the Circle of Art show, American Indian artists display works in a variety of media. The Indian Summer Marketplace features Native-inspired goods.
Sports fans will be excited by the amateur Olympic-style boxing competition as well as the lacrosse demos and matches. And the Green Bay Packers game vs. the Jacksonville Jaguars will be shown at the Miller Main Stage area on Sunday.
Other spots to visit on the Indian Summer grounds include the new Cultures of the Woodlands area. Festival goers can gain an appreciation of traditional arts by seeing and talking to craftspeople making hand drums, beadwork, flutes, lacrosse sticks and baskets (sweet grass and black ash). Festgoers also can learn how wild rice is harvested.
The Living Cultures of the Great Lakes area will highlight the traditional art of birch bark biting with Dr. Denise Lajimodere, fish decoy making with Wayne Valliere, native plants used for medicine with Misty Cook, contemporary singer songwriter Paco Fralick, organic farming with Woody White and presentations by the Oneida and Ziibiwing Museums. Iroquois social dancing also will add to the atmosphere.
On Friday, Sept. 9, from 9 a.m.-2:30 p.m., teachers and students in grades three through nine are welcomed to Indian Summer Festival’s Education Day. While Indian Summer Festival opens to the public at 4 p.m. on Friday, the grounds are open only to Education Day participants during the day. Early registration is requested by Sept. 1. The cost for Education Day is $6 per person. Register and pay online at indiansummer.org/education-day.
Payment also will be accepted at the Indian Summer office and on the festival grounds beginning Tuesday, Sept. 6.
Sunday events include the 10 a.m. non-denominational Indian Summer Prayer Ceremony and Dylan’s 5K Run & Walk for Autism, benefitting the Autism Society of Southeastern Wisconsin. At 3 p.m., a parade celebrating community and the 30th Indian Summer Festival Anniversary takes place.
Festival hours are 4 p.m. to midnight Friday, noon to midnight Saturday and 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday.
Ticket prices are $15 for adults. Children 12 and under are free. $12 for seniors age 60+. There are a number of special admission deals.