Around town

East Town City Guide

Shop, Eat, and Enjoy the Beat...Something for Everyone in East Town By Linda Fausel

East Town Milwaukee, an unabbreviated urban neighborhood – an ever-growing lineup of exciting events, luxurious living and green space, unique shopping, dining, and nightlife, all within a stones throw from downtown and surrounding suburbs – East Town’s got it all.


The year kicks off with Gallery Night & Day scheduled for January 16 & 17th, April 17 & 18th, July 24 & 25th, and October 16 & 17th in various locations. Co-sponsored by the East Town and Historic Third Ward Association and celebrating its 20th year, the weekend event features the work of local artists in various galleries easily accessible by a 20-passenger Xpress bus, picking up and dropping off on a continuous loop between 5 and 9 PM. “Gallery Night & Day is a walk on the creative wild side for both the novice and experienced art connoisseur,” said one participant.

Next up is the wearing o’ the green tam o’shanters during the 43rd annual St. Patrick’s Day parade at noon on Saturday, March 14. Produced by the Shamrock Club of Wisconsin, the parade features more than 100 units -- floats, marching bands, clowns, local celebrities and other famous Irish folks. Watch for information on the Shamrock Sprint.

Competitive? Familiar with “The Amazing Race,” on CBS? Grab your fleet-of-foot friends (open to individuals and teams) and sign up for East Town’s Night Out/Scavenger Hunt, on Thursday, May 7th in East Town. Participating restaurants, retailers, residential developments, banks, galleries and shops will be open after-hours as participants wander through picking up “clues” to win great prizes.

Start your Saturday morning out with a muffin, mocha, and more at the outdoor East Town Market running Saturdays, June through October in Cathedral Square Park. Local bands serenade shoppers in pursuit of scrumptious, locally-grown fruits, vegetables and homemade goods.

Culinary crackerjacks love Downtown Dining Week, taking place Thursday, May 28 through Thursday, June 4. Choose from a special three-course menu when dining at participating establishments and enjoy $10 lunches and $20 dinners.

Over the river, just east of Pere Marquette Park, you’ll discover RiverSplash a Milwaukee music/food/family event jam-packed for summer. The fun, scheduled for June 5-7, includes street performers, canoe rides, dancing, theater acts, music, artist demonstrations, and fireworks.

It’s not only fabulous, it’s free, and 2009 marks its 20th year. Jazz in the Park is the premier social soiree. Sprawled out on a blanket or sipping wine in a lawn chair, Cathedral Square Park in Milwaukee’s East Town is the place to be from 6:30 to 9 PM every Thursday from June to September when world class musicians lay down some of the best jazz in the Midwest. Assemble your picnic fare and friends and come early to secure your spot or purchase food and drink from local vendors.

            The competition sizzles during East Town’s Battle of the Chefs, July 24, August 1, August 25, and August 29 in Cathedral Square Park. Four chefs are chosen and have 45 minutes to apply expertise and imagination into the creation of a dish with presented ingredients or using purchases from nearby market vendors. Battle of the Chefs final competition takes place September 12. A Battle of the Chefs junior edition (ages 8-11 and 12-15) takes place on Sept. 26.

Regarded as the nation’s largest, one-day recreational bike ride, the 28th annual Miller Lite Ride for the Arts will take place Sunday, June 7 featuring five, 15, 25, 50, and 75 mile bike rides. All proceeds benefit the United Performing Arts Fund. To date, more than $6 million has been raised.

West of East Town? Stop by the Westown Farmer’s Market which runs 10 AM to 3 PM Wednesdays, June through October in Zeidler Square, at Michigan Street between 3rd and 4th Streets. Mingle with downtown workers grabbing lunch or an inspiring bouquet of flowers to take back to their desks. A variety of live music takes place between 11:45 AM and 1:45 PM daily, featuring swing, jazz, blue grass and calypso.

Milwaukeeans love music, and Wednesdays between 6:30 and 9 PM, get your fill at River Rhythms, at Pere Marquette Park, on Old World Third Street between State and Kilbourn. Sponsored by many local businesses, River Rhythms brings in extraordinary national and local acts to delight every taste. It runs June 3 through August 26.

Le Français Sait Comment Faire la fête, (The French know how to celebrate), and we salute them during Bastille Days, July 9-12 in the heart of East Town. Runners will Storm the Bastille during the 5K run that kicks off the festival at 9 PM Thursday. Visitors can stroll the grounds amidst the food, music and dancing, taking in the roaming minstrels, jugglers, mimes and other delightful street performers. The event features food demonstrations, seers, (card readers/astrologers), French lessons, shopping, and more. The Waiter/Waitress Race takes place Sunday afternoon.

Enjoy the hot sounds of jazz at Summer Sizzle, July 31 through Saturday, August 1 in the Historic Third Ward, on Broadway, between Menomonee and St. Paul. Get your groove on with nationally-known musical acts, food and beverages from specialty vendors. Coolers, grills, and lawn chairs are permitted at this free event.

            Watch movies on the banks of the Milwaukee River at River Flicks, every Friday in August at Pere Marquette Park on Old World Third Street between State and Kilbourn. The movies are free of charge and begin at dusk.   

            Experience the Milwaukee Holiday Lights Festival which will run Thursday, November 19 through January 3, 2010. Trees in area parks are covered in holiday lights to add sparkle and charm to the holiday season. Kick off the festivities with the tree lighting ceremony at Pere Marquette Park featuring free hot cocoa, coffee, and cookies, while supplies last.

            Santa comes to town every November for the city’s annual Holiday Parade. Watch for upcoming information on the parade, usually held on the fourth Saturday in November.

            Don’t miss a one-stop-shop for gifts at the East Town Holiday Market, scheduled for Thursday, December 3 in Chase Tower, at Water and Wisconsin Sts. Featuring local artisans peddling one-of-a-kind art, jewelry, scarves, and more. Local retailers will be on hand to sell gift certificates for the hard to please people on your list. Shoppers can enjoy coffee, tea, hot chocolate, wine, and more during their trip. Gift wrapping, discounted parking, and valet service is available.

            Christmas in the Ward is celebrating its 21st year. Join the fun Friday, December 4 with the tree lighting ceremony in Catalano Square at North Broadway and East Menomonee. Local shops will be open for business offering sales and promotions. Kids can visit Santa at Jolly’s Outdoor Gingerbread House, and parents can attend a silent auction taking place upstairs at the Milwaukee Public Market. Proceeds benefit Toys For Tots. Free parking is available after 4 PM and from 10 AM to 6 PM on Saturday.