By Brandi Makuski
The City of Stevens Point is going with a new fireworks vendor and bringing in some new features for the 2021 event.
Riverfront Rendezvous 2021 will be held July 2-4 at Pfiffner Pioneer Park. The city chose a new fireworks vendor with different capabilities than what residents have seen before at Riverfront, said Dan Kremer, parks director.
Green Bay-based Spielbauer Fireworks has been tapped to run this year’s show. The company can do a little more with the city’s $25,000 fireworks budget, he said.
According to city records, the city’s fireworks budget remains unchanged since 2019. Of the $25,000 budgeted, Trig’s is an annual $5,000 sponsor, with an anonymous donor kicking in $10,000, leaving the last $10,000 on the taxpayers.
This year’s show will be different because Spielbauer can launch fireworks from an aluminum platform in the water, Kremer said.
“They use something similar to a pontoon boat kind of platform,” Kremer said. “They stage and set up along the river’s edge from Mead (Park), and as we approach the later evening hours they will pull that out into the water and anchor it when we start to light the fireworks.”
The annual lighted boat parade will go on, Kremer said, but because the fireworks fallout zone will change, boaters will be required to stay north of the Mead Park dog beach area.
“We’ll be working with the sheriff’s office, and PD, and the fire department, to clear the fallout zone, just like any other year where you can’t be out where the fireworks are going to fall,” Kremer said. “But because they’ll be out in the middle of the water, we’re be adjusting that slightly.”
The new fallout zone also means there will be more seating space available at Mead Park.
“It should create a really great atmosphere for people in both parks, and it will create open seating in Mead that was not available historically,” he said. “Previously, they were shooting off the river bank and that was in the fallout zone. Now, by sliding out into the river that fallout zone does not go into Mead Park.”
The city will also debut a Food Truck Court this year, with areas on both sides of the park set aside for vendors—some new to the area, others familiar to local foodies. Food and beverages will be for sale on Friday from 5-10 p.m., and from noon to 10 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.
Stone Press Food Truck, which offers fresh ciabatta bread sandwiches, and Purple Basil LLC, which sells “unique Italian cuisine,” will join Genoa’s Bake Shop and Backyard Burgers on the north side of Pfiffner Park between the Pfiffner Building and the north beer tent, and selling all three days of Riverfront.
Kremer said the popular Smokehouse BBQ truck will be stationed on the west side in Mead Park on Sunday.
“It’ll give another option for food that’s not in the main stage area, and we had a few vendors who weren’t comfortable with COVID,” he said. “So we added this to have a wide variety and to spread things out.”
Additional activities include inflatables in the Family Fun Zone, a horseshoe tournament, Timberwork’s Lumberjack Show, and an obstacle course hosted by the Stevens Point Fire Department.
Musical acts for 2021 include Stetsin & Lace, Horseshoes & Hand Grenades, Pat and Patience Dunn, Purple Veins – The Essential Prince Tribute Band, Gangstagrass, among others.
Kremer said he believes 2021 will be the best Riverfront Rendezvous yet.
“We’ve done some pretty extensive planning to make sure we can put on a really good time, and a really great show while creating some more social distanced areas for our views, open up more slots along the river,” he said. “We believe we’ll have the best fireworks show around.”
The July 4th Parade will kick off at noon on Independence Day on Main St. in Downtown Stevens Point.