More than a music festival, Project North also offers art, sustainability, food and drink
By Lori Adler, reporter
When planning for the first annual Project North festival began two years ago, no one involved in the planning stages then could have imagined what the festival would become. Before it has even had its inaugural year, Project North has become the most creative, eclectic and interesting combination of events ever seen in the Northwoods.
The brainchild of ArtStart, WXPR, Nicolet College and the Rhinelander Area Chamber of Commerce, the idea for a music festival turned into so much more.
“I think it very much started out that this was going to be a music festival, but before too long, a lot of different elements started to come underneath the umbrella of it. We knew from the beginning that we wanted it to be as ecologically friendly as possible and wanted to leave as little impact on the area as possible,” explains Evan Verploegh, event and program coordinator at the chamber.
“The event has grown into something so much larger than I think we’ve ever even envisioned,” Verploegh states, adding, “Between the three core components, being music, arts and sustainability, it’s turned into a festival that represents each of those facets equally.”
Explaining that there is a lot of crossover between the three facets of the festival, Verploegh notes that often people who enjoy live music have interest in the arts, and those who are art-mined are many times also interested in ecological issues. It’s people with these many varied interests that festival organizers are hoping to attract.
While there are many annual festivals in the area, organizers feel this one is different and are hoping the event will not only help local businesses but also show people what Rhinelander and the Northwoods has to offer.
“We want this to be a great event, not only for people who are traveling from outside of the area to attend the festival, but for the Rhinelander community. Ultimately, we want this to help downtown businesses. We want the festival to showcase Rhinelander as a great place where you can come, you can live, you can work and have access to maybe some amenities that a bigger city might have to offer, so in this case, an arts and cultural festival,” Verploegh remarks.
The festival begins this Thursday evening and continues throughout the weekend. The festival grounds are mainly located in the downtown area from Brown and King Streets to WXPR and the Masonic Lodge, but other locations are also involved. Below is an overview of some of the many pieces of Project North. A full list of events, including times and locations, can be found on the festival website at www.projectnorth.com.
There are 37 bands scheduled to play throughout the weekend. Music is from a wide variety of genres including blue grass, folk, punk, metal, and rock. There will be several outdoor and indoor stages at various locations. The main stage is outdoors at King Street, but there will be indoor stages at ArtStart, WXPR and the Masonic Lodge. There are also few downtown businesses that will be hosting bands as well.
A downtown art walk will be featured throughout the weekend. Many businesses are hosting displays of local artists. In addition, several outdoor art installations are planned. Early in the festival, visitors will be able to watch as artists complete their installations, and then the art will remain intact for the rest of the festival.
School of the Arts will be operating at Treehaven in Tomahawk, but several School of the Arts activities will be offered at ArtStart free of charge to festival goers. Free art activities are also planned at Rhinelander District Library.
Nicolet College will be hosting the 32nd Annual Northern National Art Competition beginning with an opening reception on Thursday and the gallery show throughout the weekend.
In addition to embracing general environmentally friendly practices throughout the festival, a special feature is also scheduled. An eco-village will be located next to ArtStart. The village will host a variety of non-profit demonstrations and speakers. There will also be some mini concerts in the eco-village including a songwriting contest.
Food and Drink
All downtown restaurants will be tempting festival attendees with food and drink of course, but in addition, there will be some special offerings. Several local breweries will be onsite with a variety of beers, and a number of food trucks from outside the area will be at the festival, some of which will provide festival goers a chance to experience food not normally found in the Northwoods. In addition, festival organizers have secured an open carry permit for the downtown festival area for the weekend, allowing attendees to carry beer from one stage or event to another.
Volunteers are still needed and will be accepted up to the first day of the event. Volunteers who provide 3 hours of service will receive a day pass for the festival, while those who provide 6 hours of volunteer service will receive a full weekend pass. If interested, please contact Evan Verploegh at the Rhinelander Area Chamber of Commerce (715)365-7464.