WISCONSIN — As he prepares to head to the Wisconsin State Fairgrounds in Milwaukee for the annual Milwaukee-Milwaukee Sightseeing Festival, a Wisconsin native has a more urgent problem than watching his beloved dog, a black lab.
“I’ve been hearing for months now that this is the last of the seeing and tasting,” says Joe Muhlenberg, a 70-year-old Milwaukee native who moved here from New York four decades ago to work in the dairy business.
“It’s been getting better and better, but it’s got a long way to go.”
The Milwaukee Sightseeing festival has become the longest-running non-sports festival in the country, attracting thousands of people each year to the fairgrounds for a three-day event that has become a favorite of the city’s creative class.
Muhlenberger says he’s been trying to find a way to keep the festival going, but the financial crisis has forced him to reconsider.
The festival, which runs through July 31, has raised $6.5 million for various charity projects, but organizers have struggled to meet their goal of $100 million, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Mihlenberg says he is tired of the financial hardships, but that he’s not quitting.
“I’m not going to go to the States [and] give up on the whole thing,” he says.
“The more I’m exposed to people, the more I want to give back.”
The festival’s most popular events include live performances, face painting, face mask, art exhibits, music performances and children’s activities.
Muhlensbner has taken advantage of the opportunity to make art for the festival, including a series of sculptures of people with their faces covered in white paint.
“You’re not going home for a second and thinking about how you’re going to feed your family,” he said.
“There’s always going to be a reason you’re here, and there’s always a reason people are here.”
But for people like me who have lost jobs and people who have been forced out of their homes because of the economic downturn, it’s not just a festival anymore,” he added.”
If I was going to take that away, I wouldn’t want to be in the same boat as everyone else.
“But Muhnberg said he’s worried about the safety of his fellow festival goers, and said he’ll be taking a break from the festival in favor of attending a private event next year.
He said he has been considering a plan to leave Milwaukee altogether, but has yet to finalize a decision.
Munich’s Sightseeing and Tasting Festival was created by the city in 1957 to promote art, entertainment and sport.
It is the only annual festival in Wisconsin, and the city pays the fair’s fairgrounds and the fair-grounds and carnivals to host the event.
Muflenberg said the festival’s financial troubles have forced him and his wife to consider a more personal way to spend his money.
He has been spending money he receives from the fair, but he’s also been giving money away to the arts community, including to local groups that raise money for local organizations.”
But despite his frustrations, he is optimistic about the future.””
To put it mildly, it was a tough decision.”
But despite his frustrations, he is optimistic about the future.
“It’s an incredible thing to see a city take such a stand for a small community,” he adds.
“That’s really inspiring, and it’s something I can be proud of.”
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