Sitting pretty as the Grant county seat in Southwest Wisconsin, Lancaster with a population of around 3700, packs a large dose of hometown pride.
On July 18th, Lancaster held its annual ‘Night on the Square’, that saw people from inside the city and surrounding areas gather for an evening of music, dance, fun, food, fundraising, and fellowship.
Held for more than twenty-five years, the gathering was started by Bernadette Schaefer, a wife of one of Lancaster’s business people. Schaefer started it because she felt that there were no events in the city that she considered specifically family oriented.
“We’ve had a lot of dances and parties and bigger events that alcohol was served at, but we really never had anything the whole family could enjoy. She came up with this idea and started it at least 25 years ago, probably longer,” said Rick Sanson, one of Lancaster’s Area Chamber of Commerce Directors.
Sanson said, every year they try to have different music entertainment, and this year we’re fortunate to have Beth White perform for the event. Beth White, a Nashville recording artist, was born and raised in Lancaster, and has family that still lives here. (Click here to watch our interview with recording artist, Beth White. See additional links below for a couple videos from her performance at ‘Night on the Square’)
Sanson stressed that the music is kind of the keynote of the event, but noted that the event included lots of kid-centered activities and exhibitions by America Best Karate and Gotta Dance Academy studios.
Another highlight of Night on the Square, were the different non-profit organizations invited to come sell, give away, or fundraise.
Chamber of Commerce Executive Director, Heather Bontreger said, “It’s really a big fundraiser for our local non-profits. We have churches to the Lions Club with their ‘Stuff the Bus’ that are raising money for the pool. Anything you can think of; this is a great spot for them to come and get local support as much as possible. People know that, so they come prepared to spend some money for their local non-profits.”
Lancaster’s Les Mark Ford dealership got in on fundraising with their ‘Drive 4 Your Pool’ sponsorship geared towards raising money for operational costs associated with the city’s pool. The dealership was offering up $20 towards that fund for every person that filled out some simple paperwork and test drove a new vehicle. No stranger to fundraising, Les Mark also holds a fundraiser called ‘Drive One for your School’.
Others participating at the event were; Eric Vesperman & His Smokin Gang - supporting Lancaster Veterans and Grant County Cancer Coalition, Lancaster Boy Scouts, LHS Dance Team, Bethlehem E R Church, Lancaster Congregational Church, along with fun games, activities and products from Jaclyn Bevan - State Farm Insurance Agent, Wisconsin Bank & Trust, Girl Scouts, The Lunch Bus, Susan Koeller, Grant County Fair- Wisconsin, and the Grant Regional Health Center providing the kids Bounce House.
Although an annual event, this year’s Night on the Square was just a little more special, in that a complete overhaul of the downtown area roads and sidewalks was literally completed only few days before the event. “If it had rained at all the wrong times, we wouldn’t have had this done,” Sanson said.
Bontreger added, “Our electrical is not finished on the square. We had our local electrician came in and rigged up some electricity so we could have some music and keep things cold. That was a big obstacle, but we got it figured out,”
Asked what this event means to her Bontreger replied, “For me, it is a big town reunion. You bring your friends and neighbors. Everyone comes out and you support your local non-profits and hang out and listen to music. You see people you haven’t seen for a while and everyone is in one spot, downtown.”
Sanson followed up saying, “This is a big summertime family event for a community that doesn’t have any family events. They are all adult-oriented. This is our one time to work with the city that funds this. It’s everything Heather said and then some.”