Ashley for the Arts has grown by the thousands since its first year

Published: Apr. 17, 2023 at 6:56 PM CDT
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ARCADIA, Wis. (WEAU) - One of Wisconsin’s largest charity events is returning to Memorial Park in Arcadia this summer.

Ashley for the Arts features local art, musical talents, and plenty of entertainment. Event director, Cole Bawek, said at its core it helps raise funds for area schools and non-profits.

“Last year alone, we were actually able to raise over $650,000, which supported over 70 nonprofit organizations. And this year we’re hoping to build upon that,” Bawek said.

A competitive marching band from Cotter Schools in Winona is just one of the many organization that have benefitted from Ashley for the Arts.

Cotter Band Booster Officer, Peggy Duellman, said the fundraiser helps pay for the band’s expenses.

“Our season costs about 15 grand a year to participate in those things. And Ashley for the arts helps pay for that,” Duellman.

“We certainly know that school budgets are tight year over year and that’s one of the reasons why we get so much excitement coming from local music programs. You know, they’re able to come and perform on stage and then are able to earn some additional funds just by performing on stage,” Bawek said.

“It’s just been a wonderful thing, the partnership in that sense, helping us to keep our high level of our program that we have going because everything keeps getting more expensive,” Duellman said.

With a population of less than 4,000 the city of Arcadia comes alive for the musical weekend.

“We bring in a lot of tourists, you know, for Ashley for the Arts. They come in here and they’re spending money at the local taverns or local restaurants and such. And it’s a great way for us to showcase our community,” Bawek said.

It’s hard to believe the grand event started just a few years ago with some local performers.

“Ashley for the Arts was actually established back in 2009, right here in Memorial Park. We just had some local performers that came by and nearly about 300 people showed up and attended it,” Bawek said.

Now over 50,000 people are expected to attend this year’s event which features nationally-known musical artists like REO Speedwagon, Trace Adkins, Jake Owen, and Walk the Moon. A full list of headliners can be found here.

This year’s event is scheduled for August 10th - 12th. Tickets are still available and can be purchased online.