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When fire and water mix

posted Jul 2, 2014, 3:49 PM by John Ramthun   [ updated Jul 2, 2014, 3:57 PM ]

When fire and water mix

Kim Lamoreaux, 608-393-5777

It’s nearly the time of year that fire and water make a great mix when the Wisconsin River alights with the dance of thundering fireworks reflecting in the rippling currents.

Fire on the River has a new location on the Sauk City Riverwalk and will be an entire day — starting at 9 a.m. to midnight — full of activities, live music, a beer tent and a taste of Sauk Prairie area food vendors.

Since 1983 the fireworks have been held at the Prairie du Sac VFW Park. But this year the 6:8 – Making Service Personal group
stepped up to organize the activities and supply volunteers to work at the event.

The group is best know for its effort to coordinate the Feed My Starving Children food packaging event and goes on mission trips to other states to help build homes for the less fortunate.

If you go

What: Fire on the River

Where: Sauk City River Walk

When: 9 a.m. to midnight July 5

Cost: Free

Parking and shuttle service from the Sauk Prairie High School parking lot is available

“It’s been a thrill ride and awesome to see all this come together,” Ramthun said. “Once we got our heads together, ideas were flowing and we were putting together a full-day event that’s family friendly and that spotlights the best of Sauk Prairie.”
Ramthun said he is encouraging festival goers to park at the Sauk Prairie High School parking lot and take the shuttle into downtown Sauk City. He said families can set up their lawn chairs and blankets on the green space along the Riverwalk early and spend the day at the festival up to and beyond the fireworks display.

The fireworks display will be put on by J & M Displays of Iowa, the same company that puts on the fireworks display for Rhythm and Booms in Madison.

Curt Diehl of Sauk City has worked for that company for about 30 years and spent many of those years handling the pyrotechnics for the Sauk Prairie area display.

He said this is the first year the fireworks for Fire on the River will be launched from barges on the water.

“This show has always been shot on land, so the unique thing is it will be shot on the river,” Diehl said. “I do numerous shows around the state where we shoot off of barges, but never on rivers. We’ve got moving current to take into consideration and the water level.”

Diehl said that’s what will make this year’s event more special.

“I’m excited about the new venue,” Diehl said. “We want to make it grow and become a community event. This has always been something people talked about and looked forward to as soon as it got to be nice weather.”

Event schedule

Main Stage Acts

10 a.m. Krause Family Band

Noon: God Bless America by Lindsey Giese and the VFW Honor Guard

12:15 p.m. Sauk Prairie High School music

2:45 p.m. Improv Team

3:15 River Hills Worship Band

4:30 p.m. Bowtones

5:15 p.m. Kris Pickar’s School of Dance

7:15 p.m. Dueling Pianos

8:30 p.m. 5th Gear

9:00 p.m. Star Spangled Banner by the Bowtones

10 p.m. 5th Gear returns to the stage until midnight 

Food and Drink

10 a.m.–midnight: Food Court

Noon-11:30 p.m. Capital Brewery Beer and Wollersheim Wine Garden

5–8 p.m. Flavors of Sauk Prairie

Art Area

9 a.m. Artists Paint along the Riverway

10 a.m.–3 p.m. Kids Art Area

4 p.m. 6:8’s Sauk Prairie Against Hunger Silent Auction

6 p.m. Art Silent Auction

8 p.m. Silent and Art Auctions Close


10 a.m.–9 p.m. Family-friendly games

Noon–9 p.m. Water games

3 p.m. Dunk a pastor

4 p.m. Dunk a cop

5 p.m. Dunk a school staff

6 p.m. Free hot air balloon rides

10 p.m. Outdoor movie “Ratatouille”

There are numerous activities and attractions planned prior to the grand finale of fireworks.

A total of 12 music and dance acts are planned, including musician and songwriter Beth Kille, a rock, folk and blues artist who is a 19-time Madison Area Music Association award winner; musician and songwriter Corey Hart, winner of the 2012 MAMA awards for best male vocalist and for best Folk/Americana album; the Krause Family band playing classic bluegrass and folk favorites; The Jacks folk trio including Sauk Prairie middle school principal Ted Harter; the Sauk Prairie School District’s Sauk Prairie Music ensemble, Lindsey Giese, the dueling pianos of Rory Bolton and Matt Brennan; The River Hills Worship Band; Sauk Prairie’s own Bowtones will sing “The Star Spangled Banner,” and the rock and country 5th Gear band, a multi-award winning group that includes 2012 “Best Local Group” by 96.3 Star Country Music Awards, will perform.

Dance performances include AJ Juarez, who is married to Lindsey Giese, and Kris Pickar’s School of Dance will perform. An improvisational team also will entertain.

Kids can join a water gun fight, known local figures and pastors will be the victims of a dunk tank and for the kids who are allowed to stay up late that night, the Disney movie “Ratatouille” will be shown on the side of a Fuch’s Trucking semi following the fireworks.

Local artists will be busy painting in the open air working on pieces that will be available through a silent auction.

Festival goers of all ages will be asked to participate in a mural creation in a paint-by-numbers image created by artists Bernie and Sue Poff of Polliwog Studios.

“We’ll have a big paint party,” Bernie Poff said. “People can pick up a paint brush and paint a small portion so they can say they were part of it.

Ramthun said people should come to the event hungry for the “Flavors of Sauk Prairie,” where for a small donation, festival goers can sample foods from just about every food business in the Sauk Prairie area.

Even after the fireworks display, the night goes on with the 5th Gear band starting up at 10 p.m.

Other area Independence Day celebrations include the Witwen Fourth of July Parade and Barbecue on July 4 beginning at 10:30 a.m., at the intersection of County Roads E and O, in Witwen, and the Merrimac Fire Department fireworks show at S7116 Bluff Road in Merrimac on July 5 at dusk. Gates open at 5 p.m. Cost is $3 per vehicle.