A KIDS Experience Enlightens Possibilities
Meet Mary Arthur, the Band Manager and Festival Coordinator of the Buttermilk Festival!
Welcoming Kids from Wisconsin to Fond du Lac since 1995! 
The Kids from Wisconsin have been performing for capacity audiences at the Buttermilk Festival in Fond du Lac since 1995, a run of 22 years and going strong! We wanted to hear more about the fantastic crowds that the Kids from Wisconsin draw each and every year as well as a little history about these two Fond du Lac treasures, The Buttermilk Festival and the Fond du Lac Symphonic Band.
Q: Mary, What is the Buttermilk Festival?
A: The Buttermilk Festival is a project of the Fond du Lac Symphonic Band. This venerable local organization has maintained a tradition of summer park concerts since 1898. After reorganization in the 1970's, the Band outgrew the existing local outdoor stages, and with the help of community leaders, it spearheaded an effort to build a new performance center in Buttermilk Creek Park. The spacious facility was proposed to accommodate not only band concerts but performances of all kinds. The result was a $200,000 community-funded facility that was donated to the City upon completion in 1988. 
Q: How did the Buttermilk Festival get its start?
A: Making good on promises to the donors, the Band began hosting and producing a summer-long, weekly music festival in 1989. The free series features five concerts by the Symphonic Band alternating with guest performers - a list that started small but has grown to include the Glenn Miller Orchestra, Dorf Kapelle, Milwaukee Symphony, Army and Air Force bands, and more. While the City of Fond du Lac supports the band concerts, the remainder of the budget (approximately $30,000) is covered by sponsorship, donations and free-will offerings.
A: When did the Kids from Wisconsin first perform at the Buttermilk Festival?
Q: The first performance by the KIDS, on July 5, 1995 came in response to a request from the parents of Gina Paveglio, a Fond du Lac teen who was performing with the KIDS at that time. The first show was a last-minute addition to the schedule and not included in the Festival publicity that year. With no expe ctations other than to accommodate the Paveglio's request, I was astounded when over 3,000 people showed up at the park that night!
Each performance brings thousands to the performance at the Buttermilk Festival

Q: Why did you choose to invite the KIDS back after that first performance?
A:  With that auspicious start, it was a "no-brainer" to invite the KIDS to return; every year since 1996 they have performed on the Wednesday after the State Fair closes. Audiences range from 4,000 to 5,000 -the largest of the season both for the KIDS and the Festival. As the local liaison, I have been the "on-site producer" for all twenty appearances -- fielding questions, accommodating requests, and taking volumes of photos for future publicity. I attribute the KIDS' tremendous local popularity to three things beyond the outstanding quality of the shows: 
  • The fan base established when the KIDS performed at the County Fair in the 1970's and 80's; 
  • The idyllic outdoor setting, with a food concession and pre-show entertainment, and no admission fee thanks to the sponsors and donors who underwrite the cost 
  • Extensive publicity including calendar listings, direct mailings, widely-distributed news releases and on-site promotion through announcements and an LED message board
    KFW performing on the stage at Buttermilk Creek Park
Interest has also been sti mulated with local youth in the troupe over the years, in cluding Gina Paveglio, Clark Ausloos, Tiffany Spears, Jim Geddes, Mario Cerruti, Colin Gilliland, Meagan Gilliland, Emily Brewer and others, along with performers from nearby communities such as Ripon, Mayville, Plymouth, and Kiel.

Q: Does any particular KIDS show stand out in your mind?
A: I greatly appreciate the professionalism that every show demonstrates - from programming to costumes to the nearly flawless level of performance. But I do recall one special memory: the show that the featured Broadway musical "Phantom of the Opera." My young grandson was watching with me on the lawn down front. When the Phantom made his swooping appearance in full costume with his iconic white mask, my grandson's feet barely touched the ground as he fled to my car and locked himself in!
Travis Waas, KIDS alumnus ('09), proposes to Amber Boardman, KIDS alumnus ('09)

The Kids from Wisconsin "fondly" remember many shows in Fond du Lac, but one that stands out is the marriage proposal between two, 2009 alumni before the close of the show.This took place in 2015.

Mary, Kids from Wisconsin heard you are retiring! What will happen to the Buttermilk Festiv al?
A: Yes, I will soon be retiring from my many duties with the Band and Festival,but the future is assured as I already know my replacements. The KIDS annual show will be in the capable hands of Jon Gilliland, a retired music educator and administrator, tireless advocate for the arts, and parent of two former KIDS.

The Kids from Wisconsin congratulate Mary Arthur on her much deserved retirement and an appreciation for her terrific support through bringing the troupe to the              Fond du Lac community.

We hope to see a Hometown KID from Fond du Lac in 2017!
Audition info 
Stage at Buttermilk Creek Park
Mary Arthur and Barb Dorn, Executive Director Emeritus
Contact Kids from Wisconsin
640 S 84th Street
Milwaukee, WI 53214