If you’ve never attended the legacy that is Whitewater, WI’s 4th of July Festival, you’re missing out on some serious magic. Dating back to the 1890s, this festival (that runs from Wednesday, July 3rd through Sunday, July 7th this year) has been encouraging community collaboration and play generation after generation. It’s considered one of the biggest 4th of July Festivals in the midwest, and it’s easy to see why.
It showcases one of the largest live music offerings in the area (aside from Summerfest!) with performances spanning all four days of the festival. Lineup includes Dixie Crush, Brendan Frank and Gina DeGregorio, Beatles tribute band The Britins, Wunderlich, The Dots, Steve Meisner Band, and Titan Fun Key, to name a few!
Long time festival volunteer and organizer, Lisa Dawsey Smith
“Sometimes it’s about the little things, in particular, seeing the kids dance.”
This year is the 8th annual Miss Whitewater Pageant with proceeds going toward Take A Vet Fishing.
It offers the best family-owned carnival in the area that returns each year with many of the same faces. Lisa loves this aspect of the festival.
“The carnival people are good people. They’re always the same workers each year so I can trust my children to run around and feel safe.”
The Festival also offers the largest fireworks display in the area shooting off fireworks two of the four nights.
The food vendors are all volunteer-based groups from places around town like the American Legion, many of the churches, and the Lions Club.
“It’s always a whole family at each booth who stays the whole time and always with smiles!”Lisa Dawsey Smith
You can expect a Family Day with a petting zoo for kids too small to ride the rides, the 35th Annual Car Show, a ski show, and a 90min parade.
“The parade is my favorite. For a tiny town to do something so large scale is incredible.”Lisa Dawsey Smith
“The festival has been at Cravath Lakefront Park for 19yrs. Before that, it was held at Starin Park for a generation. It took a lot of work to transform this area into a park that could foster community. There used to be buildings with loading docks butting up to the tracks. They just do such a good job taking care of this place today.”Lisa Dawsey Smith
One of the most beautiful things about the Festival is that there are always things you wouldn’t expect that bring such joy.
“One year, there was a man playing in the sprinkler with his daughter. People come outta the woodwork to be here! There are always different people that attend than other city events. It’s a diverse group and multi-generational. It’s also amazing how many people volunteer to keep this going. But the best thing about the carnival is the ferris wheel. It gives you a chance to get a different perspective on the community.”Lisa Dawsey Smith
“Come hang out!”Lisa Dawsey Smith
…and leave with a little piece of the magic.
**Special thanks to all the organizers and sponsors, past and present.**
Carnival hours: Wed 4pm‑11:30pm, Thu 10am‑10pm, Fri 10am‑11:30pm, Sat 12pm‑11:00pm, Sun 12pm‑4pm
Car Show: Wed. 8a-2p
Fireworks: Th. 10p and Sat. 10p
Family Day w/ petting zoo: Sat. 10a-2p