Friday Night Live eyes expansion
New stages, vendors to enhance event, but not everyone pleased

By Sarah Pryor - Freeman Staff

June 17, 2014

WAUKESHA - Thousands of people follow the music into downtown Waukesha on summer Friday evenings, and the organizers of Friday Night Live are proposing an expansion to further enhance the event.

Kerry Mackay of the Waukesha Downtown Business Association, the organization that puts on the event, said he’s hoping to improve attendees’ experience at FNL by moving stages to alleviate the competing music sounds on Main Street, and by adding new vendors like Marco’s Pizza who can provide pizza-by-the-slice.

“The biggest thing we’re looking forward to is the addition of the South Street stage called ‘The Kids from Waukesha,’” Mackay said. “It’s a youth stage with youth performers and it’s next to WCAP (The Waukesha Community Art Project).”

According to a revised street closure permit application turned in to City Clerk Gina Kozlik on Friday, Mackay and the WDBA are proposing closing South Street from the alley entrance to Clinton Street to accommodate the stage.

Mackay also said that, pending city approval of the new permit, the Waukesha Civic Theatre stage will move from Main Street to a spot behind the Civic Theatre on the Riverfront Plaza to avoid mixing music on Main Street.

“There are so many bands and the music is starting to mix too much,” Mackay said. “We want to give the public a better, higher-quality event when it comes to the music.”

Mackay said if attendees come to the Salty Toad stage, cosponsored by Thomas Press, they’ll find true high-quality music from bands like Ricochet and Emmaus Road Band.

The amended permit also contains almost double the number of “vendors” from the permit Kozlik approved in April, and Mayor Shawn Reilly said the city attorney’s office is looking at city ordinances about vendor placement to make sure everything is OK before the new permit gets approved.

Vendors include everything from organizations with information booths to live pottery and painting demonstrations.

Catherine Huelsman, general manager of Berg Management which owns several buildings downtown, said she has some concerns about vendors being located in front of her tenants’ businesses.

“They (the WDBA) seem to think they have full authority to put things up in front of these businesses without asking or telling them they’re going to do that,” Huelsman said. “They don’t know if I’m planning to show those spaces or have something else going on in them during FNL, which I often do.”

However, Mackay said most vendors have already been at FNL and the new permit is just to make sure the city knows who will be out on the street.

Kozlik said she’s still reviewing the permit with the city’s various department heads before deciding whether to allow the changes. Meanwhile, Kozlik said, the event should stick to the footprint approved back in April with the original application.

Mackay said the event has enjoyed unprecedented attendance so far this season and he thinks it will only get better as summer goes on.

“It’s really wonderful for the city,” he said.

What’s new?*

* More vendors including Marco’s Pizza, who will sell pizza-by-the-slice

* New “Kids from Waukesha” stage next to the Waukesha Community Art Project on South Street, which will feature youth performers

* Portion of South Street to be closed

* Christian music stage that was on Broadway last year will now be next to Allo! Chocolat

* Stage in front of Waukesha Civic Theatre will move behind Waukesha Civic Theatre to Riverfront Plaza to reduce mixing of music on Main Street.

* New stage in front of The Salty Toad co-sponsored by Thomas Press.

*pending city approval of new permit