Things to Do in Fond du Lac

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Things to Do in Fond du Lac Wisconsin

Entertainment in Fond du Lac comes in a myriad of shapes and sizes, ranging from big events like Walleye Weekend to smaller gatherings like poetry readings at the Thelma Sadoff Center for the Arts. Whether large or small, amateur or professional, planned or spontaneous, all events keep Fond du Lac residents and visitors busy throughout the year.

Walleye Weekend is a three-day celebration of the Mercury National Walleye Fishing Tournament and stands as the biggest event of the summer season. Held in June at Lakeside Park, the weekend features live entertainment, a youth art activity tent, volleyball and softball tournaments, 3-on-3 basketball, a youth soccer tournament and a Hole-in-One shootout.

Downtown Fond du Lac hosts a successful Farmers’ Market, with more than 70 vendors selling fresh produce, flowers, herbs and more. Parades are held throughout the year in this central district, as is an annual Fondue Festival.

Held at the Thelma Sadoff Center for the Arts in April, the Fond du Lac Jazz Festival continues to grow in attendance and prestige. Artists such as Ellis Marsalis, Kevin Eubanks and Diane Schuur have headlined the festival in recent years.

The Fond du Lac Symphonic Band is a part-time, professional, adult concert band. It is the direct successor to the Fond du Lac Military Band, which was founded in 1898. The Band was reorganized and renamed in 1974 and operated with the cooperation and assistance of UW-Fond du Lac until 1985. The Band continues to offer a cooperative program with local colleges in which students may participate in the Band during the school year for credit.

Weekly rehearsals during the school year culminate in a Cathedral Concert each November and a Pops Concert each April. The “summer band,” limited to 50 players, carries on the Military Band’s tradition by providing an outdoor summer concert series. The series, held at Buttermilk Creek Park, alternates concerts by the band with regional touring attractions, including the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra and the Kids From Wisconsin troupe.

The Fond du Lac Women’s Chorus performs pop tunes, spirituals and a variety of other music. The Oratorio Chorus presents well-known choral works accompanied by a professional orchestra on a bi-annual basis. Music lovers of all ages subscribe to the concert series organized by the Fond du Lac Concert Association, an all-volunteer nonprofit organization. Over the years, programming has included symphony orchestras, classical, jazz, big bands, pop, folk, dance, vocal and instrumental soloists and groups, chorale, ballets, popular musicals, show bands, ethnic and cultural ensembles of national and international performers to Fond du Lac audiences.

The Performing Arts Center (PAC) is located at Fond du Lac High School campus. The excitement of live music, theater and dance is an experience you and your family will value forever.

A state-of-the-art 1,032-seat theater offers community plays, concerts and national traveling shows. The more than 1,550 parking spaces supply easy access to this community gem, while an elevator makes entry to the boxes and the mezzanine handicap accessible.

Sellout crowds come to see the plays produced annually by the Fond du Lac Community Theater, a little theater group that has been performing for more than 40 years. Both the University of Wisconsin-Fond du Lac and Marian College have theater groups that perform for the public.

Thelma Sadoff Center for the Arts opened its doors in September 2013 with a new vision and an exciting future for Fond du Lac, Wisconsin. The cornerstone of the Arts and Entertainment District in Downtown Fond du Lac, THELMA is a regional venue for high-profile concerts, exhibits with prominent artists and independent films. Impeccable interior design, expanded art classrooms, improved guest amenities and professional service set THELMA apart in the region. THELMA is a premier destination for weddings and social and corporate gatherings. THELMA is an impressive feature in the heart of the city’s downtown with majestic pillars, a grand staircase and the perfect blend of the historic and the modern. Whether it’s relaxing or watching a film on the spacious outdoor plaza, or listening to an intimate concert in The Great Hall or a major concert in the street, you will want to visit again and again.

Visit thelmaarts.org to purchase tickets, become a member or check out what’s happening next. There will always be more to see, more to do at THELMA.

The newly expanded Children’s Museum of Fond du Lac is now located in the Waterfront District adjacent to Lakeside Park. The Museum takes children on an adventurous tour around the world, from Lake Winnebago to an Italian pizzeria and the African savannah. Visitors from toddlers to tweens can cast images in the Shadow Safari, explore the Great Toddler Reef, build the Great Wall of China, exchange money for world currencies, put on a show in the Big Apple Theater or produce a radio broadcast. The Children’s Museum encourages children, along with their families, to explore their natural environment, inspire creativity and develop healthy behaviors.

The Fond du Lac Public Library is equipped for the future, with three locations, free Wi-Fi throughout the Main Library, self-service checkout stations, free e-book downloads, e-reader rental, the city’s only used book store and much more. The Main Library’s three meeting rooms are available for public reservation. Programming takes place year-round for all ages, including Children’s Storytimes, adult and teen Crafternoons and classes on using computers and technology. In addition, the library offers the Opportunity Center, a free computer lab for job seekers; Homebound Service delivery to patrons; and the Langdon Divers Community Gallery, featuring a new exhibit each month by notable local and regional artists. The Fond du Lac Public Library supports a high quality of life through reading, lifelong learning and community involvement. The locations: Main Library, 32 Sheboygan St.; FDLPL Express, near Festival Foods; and Journeys at St. Agnes, inside the hospital. For more information, visit www.fdlpl.org.

For the most part, Fond du Lac’s cultural pursuits are homegrown and receive generous applause from an appreciative community.

Outdoor Activities

With Lake Winnebago to its north and open country, marshland and forested moraine surrounding the city, Fond du Lac is an American vacationland.

Lake Winnebago covers 215 square miles and holds title as Wisconsin’s largest inland lake and an angler’s paradise. Many species of fish (from sturgeon to crappies) are caught in the varied depths of the lake. Stretching from Fond du Lac to Appleton, a distance of about 30 miles, Lake Winnebago is also a boater’s joy. The marina in Fond du Lac’s Lakeside Park is a busy place throughout the summer, as are the 180 slips in the park.

The 400 acres of islands and lakefront that make up Lakeside Park are a focal point for outdoor activity throughout the summer. Created in the late 1800s, the park offers playgrounds, picnic sites, baseball fields, picturesque lagoons, boat ramps, shoreline fishing, a petting zoo, old fashioned children’s rides, canoe rentals, a snack shop and band concerts in a handsome gazebo. The Fond du Lac area hosts 14 additional parks that feature facilities for tennis, volleyball, baseball, picnicking, fishing and other family outdoor recreational activities.

The summer months are also a time for windsurfers, and Lake Winnebago is heralded as the best in the Midwest for this unique water sport. When the lake freezes over in mid-winter, telltale trails of snowmobiles are everywhere and ice-fishing shelters dot the white of the scene, especially during February’s sturgeon season.

Ice hockey commands attention thanks to the efforts of the Blue Line Hockey Club, which organizes teams of youngsters who play on two indoor ice rinks at the Fond du Lac County Fairgrounds. Figure skating is also a primary recreational activity at the ice centers.
The city’s Community Aquatic Center, with two pools, provides year-round swimming opportunities. In summer, families now have access to the $2 million Fairgrounds Family Aquatic Center, with zero depth entry, two tube slides, two drop slides and interactive water play features, this center is one of a kind in the area.

The new City of Fond du Lac Skate Park for in-line skating and skateboarding was designed with the help of local skaters and provides a safe place to enjoy this growing sport in a designated area.
Senior citizens also have a place to “hang out.” The Fond du Lac Senior Center provides opportunities for seniors to play and learn together. It offers peer counseling and a variety of support groups, as well as health and fitness services and activities.

The most avid golfers find all the challenge they need at 10 area public golf courses. Oakgreen Golf Course is unique among the courses available in the community. It consists of an 18-hole course, a 9-hole, par-3 course and a 9-hole executive course. All fairways are watered and all greens are elevated. The 27-hole championship Rolling Meadows course is also unique in that it is owned by Fond du Lac County. Whispering Springs Golf Course offers 18 championship holes and five sets of tees. Thornbrook Golf Course is a 9-hole, par-3 course. It features a practice range and rental clubs. South Hills is a professional, private 18-hole golf course with a full-service restaurant, pro shop and swimming pool. Other nearby courses include Badger Creek in New Holstein; The Golf Club at Camelot in Lomira; Far Vu, Westhaven and Utica in Oshkosh; Scenic Auburn Bluffs in Campbellsport; and Tuscumbia in Green Lake.

Family campers like to get away to nearby Kettle Moraine State Park – which offers hiking and cross-country skiing trails; lakes for swimming, boating and fishing; and plenty of natural beauty all around. Several private campgrounds can also be found throughout the Fond du Lac area.