By: Don Laabs
It was 1993 and our family was starting our third year in the marine business. D&D Bay Marina on Beaver Dam Lake was in our growing stage. Jan and I, and our son Dan, were always interested in boating and Beaver Dam Lake since we moved here in 1963. In 1991, we joined the Beaver Dam Lake Property Owners, the predecessor of the Beaver Dam Lake Improvement Association. What was missing, however, was a festival celebrating Beaver Dam Lake. Beaver Fest had come and gone. Earlier, I had been a big part of the Beaver Dam Jaycees Sports ‘N’ Fun Festival. These festivals from the 60s to the 90s, for various reasons, long-standing as they were, both died.
In 1993, I put together several ideas for a new community festival. I met with Mark Hayes, the community promoter for tourism for Campus Inn. Eventually, Mark and I had a meeting with Diane Rosenmeier at Walker’s Restaurant, and we convinced her to be the chairperson for the first Beaver Dam Lake Days in 1994. (Diane was a promoter and “community organizer” in her own right, especially in racing and bowling.) It was almost called Lake Fest, but we finally settled on Lake Days. The early festivals started with a number of dignitaries riding on a large pontoon boat from D&D Bay Marina to Tahoe Park for the Friday p.m. opening ceremonies.
In the early years, Lake Days was 3 days long and featured some bands, boat rides, kid’s activities, and of course, food and drink. We had canoe, sailboat and paddle boat races the first year and we also had the Jaycees’ Fish Boil, bullhead’ skinning contests, and a fishing contest for kids. We did have a water ski show the first two years before the Must-Skis performances. The Shermalot Water Ski Show Team from the Wisconsin Rapids area was hired to perform. An outstanding Beaver Dam skier Kristine Foulkes was a member of that northern team.
The first few years, we had the festival at both Tahoe and Waterworks Parks to promote Beaver Dam Lake and the two parks on the lake. The committee felt that Lake Days should emphasize the history of the lake and was to be a free family-oriented festival with charges only for food and drink. It is still amazing to me that we put on that first festival with 15 committee members together and help from the City of Beaver Dam departments. Now days we have 15 to 20 organizations with dozens of workers.
The first Lake Days did not feature any fireworks, no carnival, no church service, no teen dance, no Must Skis learn to ski clinic, no pancake-egg breakfast, no free bus shuttle, no boat parade and no petting zoo. All these features and a lot more have been added to Lake Days over the years.
Besides Diane Rosenmeier, I want to recognize and congratulate the other chairpersons of Lake Days for the first 18 years. Bob and Linda Burton, Carrie Sackett, Jason White, Aaron Holbrook, Lisa Tesch, and the present chairperson Bill Dorn. Dozens of dedicated and faithful committee members have been involved as we move into the 19th annual Lake Days festival. I want to give a huge thank you to all the steering committee members, all the workers and all the businesses that supported Beaver Dam Lake Days over the years. Special thanks go to the City of Beaver Dam Public Works, Police and Fire Departments, and all the mayors and city councils since 1994.
I want the community to know that Beaver Dam Lake Days has given back to the area from the profits made. Some years we lose money, but when the Beaverland area supports our festival activities (and the weather is good), we can make a profit. Lake Days was the sponsor to purchase the hovercraft for the Beaver Dam Fire Department to the tune of $36,000.00. Lake Days has paid over $20,000.00 for numerous improvements to Tahoe Park including the large addition to the shelter (together with the Must-Skis). In summary, well over $100,000.00 has been paid out to help the Fire Department, the city park and dozens of charities. That’s a lot of “barley pop” and hamburgers! We have made an impact on our community.
In addition, four local agencies have received thousands of dollars from the collections at the ecumenical church services. Those agencies are PAVE, Clothes for Kids, Church Health Services and the New Beginnings Homeless Shelter. Many local citizens have helped out these worthwhile programs. Thank you!