First ‘West Fest’ replaces Elver Park fireworks

First ‘West Fest’ replaces Elver Park fireworks

Saturday marked the first Elver Park West Fest, which replaced the decades-long fireworks celebration canceled due to lack of funds.

“People were disappointed that the annual fireworks at Elver Park didn’t happen (this year),” said Barbara McKinney, Madison’s First Ward alder.

McKinney said she and other city and community leaders worked to plan an event that would be as fun as fireworks but bring the community together.

“The fireworks are lovely, beautiful, but people don’t stay,” McKinney said. “They come in and they leave. So, this (gives) a sense of community where we’re asking people to get involved and get engaged.”

West Fest featured arts and crafts, kids’ activities and free food, as well as music and booths staffed by volunteers from community organizations.

McKinney said getting people who live outside the west side to come mingle with people who live in nearby neighborhoods can help break barriers and combat negative perceptions of the area.

“There has been so much negative related to the southwest corridor, we need to change that narrative,” McKinney said. “You show people that you’re welcome, you invite people in. People have coffee together, people walk together, people visit the booths together and so that’s how you change the perception.”

To learn more about West Fest, the activities it featured and the businesses, people and organizations involved, visit the city’s website.