Hometown Days is giving up its “dry run.”
Thursday night activities, which have experienced lower turnout in recent years, have been eliminated from the annual Hometown Days festival this year.
Le Jordan, executive director of the Verona Area Chamber of Commerce, said Thursday night was an opportunity for vendors to prepare for the larger wave of attendees to hit during the last three days of the festival. But it wasn’t financially worth the cost to put it on, she said.
The now three-day festival, set for June 1-3, will still feature food, musical acts, a carnival and various other kids activities, its annual Sunday parade and the fireworks show, which has hopped around to different nights but will now be on Friday.
With Thursday night’s music show gone, additional musical acts throughout the day will perform on the new, smaller “Hometown Days” stage in the beer tent. They’ll precede the main musical acts Friday and Saturday night, which have cover charges on the larger “Epic” stage.
On Friday, Kate Scullin will play starting at 5 p.m. on the Hometown Days stage, and four musical acts will perform from noon to 7 p.m. on Saturday, with perennial headliner Cherry Pie starting at 8.
The goal is to make the downtime moments of the festival more lively for attendees and “put them in the festival mood,” Jordan said.
“People passing by or over in the hamburger stand will be able to sit and listen to music,” she said. “When (people) were getting something to eat or they were just done with the carnival and wanted to relax a little bit or play some of the lawn games, (live music) just makes it more festive, rather than sitting having lunch in dead silence – we thought it would add an air of excitement and fun.”
A petting zoo will take the place of the usual exotic animals exhibit this year because of scheduling conflicts. Popular performer ZooZort, which usually brings the exotic animals, will be unavailable with owner Noelle Tarrant attending her daughter’s wedding that weekend, Jordan said.
Helicopter rides will return, and the marketplace is looking to double the number of vendors. Applications for vendors are still being accepted, Jordan added.
The pancake breakfast, traditionally on Sunday morning, will move to Saturday morning at Yahara Bay Distillery, where the company will debut a new maple syrup that weekend.
The parade will return to its traditional route after switching last year as a result of construction on South Main Street.
Despite some changes to the festival, the majority of the activities are going to look familiar to what attendees experienced in previous years, Jordan said.
“A lot of (the activities) are very similar because we’ve been very pleased with the success of it over the last several years,” she said.