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Project North Festival plans take shape

August 06, 2019 by Jamie Taylor

Organizers are working feverishly to launch the inaugural Project North Festival, a unique event to be held in downtown Rhinelander on Sept. 26-29.

According to the festival’s website, “the first year of the event will serve as a catalyst in propelling Rhinelander’s stance as a progressive community that is dedicated to providing resources and support to local, national and international artists, musicians and sustainability advocates.”

The four primary sponsors of the event are the Rhinelander Area Chamber, ArtStart, Nicolet College and WXPR. In addition, there are numerous extension sponsors, according the chamber executive director Lauren Sackett.

“Project North will provide an affordable option for people to explore their own creativity and experience the diverse passions of others. Breaking down the walls between performer and audience, Project North is an immersive event that will allow one to deepen their connection to self-expression. All this will be fostered by a true community of Rhinelander non-profits, businesses, artists, activists, educators and visionaries,” the website says. 

Evan Verploegh, event and program coordinator with the Rhinelander Area Chamber of Commerce, recently offered an update on the status of the planning process.

First, Verploegh discussed the musical lineup for the festival, which will include several genres.

“I would say that 75-80% of the final lineup has been booked now,” Verploegh said. “We’re still going to be adding some local musicians, as well as some artists that are in the punk and heavy metal genres to the lineup, but the majority of the lineup has been booked.” 

There will be four locations where attendees can watch the musical performances.

“The main stage of the festival is going to be outside of ArtStart at the corner of King and Stevens streets,” Verploegh said. “That stage will be running until about 10:30 p.m. each evening. Anything after that will be taking place indoors at ArtStart. We’re also going to have smaller acoustic acts play at the White Pine Room at WXPR and we’re also going to have music in the basement of the Masonic Lodge.”

In keeping with the theme of sustainability, the food and drink vendors will not be allowed to use styrofoam or plastic. 

“We are going to be working with a company called Eco-products to have all compostable drink materials,” Verploegh said. “We will also be stocking steel cups that people can put beverages in and those will be sold for, I believe, $10. Anybody who purchases one of those cups will get a small discount on any drink purchase at the festival.”

There will also be a number of food trucks and breweries from outside the immediate area to give people a chance to sample some things they may not have had an opportunity to try before.

In addition to the musical acts, there will be classes and workshops held throughout the run of the festival in various locations.

“One aspect of the festival is going to be what is called the Eco-village and a lot of area businesses and non-profit organizations will be setting up booths and giving out information and answering questions about what they do and what are some of the projects they are working on,” Verploegh said. “Alongside that, there is going to be lectures from each of these groups where they will give about a 45-minute talk about specific subjects throughout the festival.”

Verploegh also said there will be an arts side to the festival.

“Downtown businesses will be showing works from artists from around the community and around the state,” he said. “We’re also going to have art installations throughout the festival grounds to kind of encourage people to navigate around the festival while seeing works of art as they navigate between stages.”

Organizers are still looking for people to help put the finishing touches on the plans, as well as helping during the festival.

“We’re always looking for volunteers, both leading up to the festival and throughout the festival,” Verploegh said. “Anybody interested can head to projectnorth.org and check that out to see which proper contact they might need to reach out to volunteer in a specific area they would like to do.”

Jamie Taylor may be reached via email at [email protected]

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