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Bastille Days

Milwaukee has a number of ethnic festivals. Many of them are held at Maier Festival Park on the lakefront, but not all. One of them is in Cathedral Park, which was just a step outside of where I worked for ten years. This year, I missed out on watching the set-up all week, then rushing out on Thursday at lunchtime for crepes, or seafood, or any of a number of different foods, with honey-roasted nuts and lemonade, for a preview of the things in the different shops.

Over the years, some of the vendors have become friends, both those seen just once a year and others who have shops in Milwaukee.

It became a tradition for My Angel and I to go at least once; more often two or three times over the course of the four-day festival. Bastille Days is a street festival with music, various acts (mimes, firedancers, people danced in fancy outfits from the time of the French Revolution, break dancers, caricaturists, and more). On Thursday Night they hold a footrace called Storm The Bastille. Knowing that the race makes escaping from the festival difficult, we had planned to go on Friday.

Alas, My Angel had mis-counted one of her meds, missed a day or two of it, and was consequently not only feeling poorly, but substantially dizzy Thursday night into Friday. (That did clear up, once we visited the pharmacy on Friday.)

OK, so we decided to go on Saturday instead. We headed out around dinnertime, ready for music, beignets, and lots of window shopping.

Beignets are a traditional French fried pastry, typically doused in either powdered sugar or cinnamon sugar. I had only had beignets previously in New Orleans, when the Worldcon was there. But that's a different story! Here are beignets (both sorts) and musicians on the main stage. There were other musicians in other locations as well, primarily on three other large stages, set in the middle of streets blocked off for the festival.

Like all festivals, there was stuff to buy:

The pictures of the globes (I want to say "worlds for sale"), fancy glass, and fanciful lanterns were taken Saturday night; the only day we'd planned to be there. Unfortunately, while throwing away some trash, My Angel tripped over a picnic table, banging up her shoulder, knee, both calves, and her face both above and below one eye. Two kind men helped her stand up, a friendly food-vendor gave her a bag of ice, and I picked up a few more beignets for the road, before driving to Walgreens for some humongous bandaids, and heading home to play doctor.

The view of the Cathedral is roughly from where My Angel fell. It's got scaffolding up--another thing I'm missing since I'm no longer working--daily seeing the workmen repair the tower. Which would be cool to watch, so long as I got to stay safely on the ground!

Despite her scrapes and bruises, My Angel felt enough better this afternoon to insist we go see the rest of the festival, so off we went again.

Every year they have artists painting a mural, live, in the early days of the festival; it can be fun to watch. Here is a photo of this year's completed mural, taken late Sunday afternoon. This year also featured pirates; I would have been tempted to take close-ups, but they were all, visually anyway, badly in need of baths--they looked as much like chimney sweeps as pirates! But I did get them taking down their encampment.

All in all, we had fun, and ate too many beignets!


( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
(Deleted comment)
Jul. 13th, 2009 12:24 pm (UTC)
You're very welcome. Milwaukee is pretty diverse. There's always a huge Irishfest in August at the festival park; other fests there include (or have included--some groups haven't found sufficient funding in the last couple of years) celebrations of Asian, African-American, American Indian, Italian, German, Mexican, and Polish heritage. Not to mention Pridefest. And, of course, Summerfest, which is a 10+ day celebration of all sorts of music. In addition, Germantown (a Milwaukee suburb) does indeed host an Oktoberfest.

Free events include a Riversplash festival that also has music; and Cathedral Park has a weekly Thursday evening festival called Jazz in the Park, as well as live music at most of their Saturday morning farmer's markets.

I know I'm leaving stuff out, but that's what comes to mind at the moment.
Jul. 13th, 2009 12:04 pm (UTC)
Wow, such photos! And light! And colors! Lovely!
Jul. 13th, 2009 12:10 pm (UTC)
Thank you. I was especially pleased with how the photo of the miniature replica tower came out--that's on my cell phone, taken at night! Admittedly the tower is well lit, but still!
Jul. 13th, 2009 05:59 pm (UTC)
I had no idea that Milwaukee had a Bastille Day celebration. Thanks for sharing all these wonderful photos, made me ooooooooooooh and aaaaaaaaaah! Milwaukee is close enough for Jory and I to day-trip, so we will have to keep an eye on the fesitvals.
Jul. 13th, 2009 09:40 pm (UTC)
Let us know if you're coming up!
Jul. 14th, 2009 02:08 am (UTC)
I went Sunday and was surprised to find out the Circus Parade was happening! "What are all these people doing here? They can't all be going to Bastille Days? What on Earth is going on?" I never would have gone to the parade deliberately, but since I was around I saw parts of it and had a good time. Now to find time to sort through all the photos....
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )


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