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Sunday, July 21, 2013

Beer, Cheese and Awesome Music

The 2013 Brady Street Festival

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Once a bastion of 1960s counterculture and the focus of a revitalization effort in the early ’90s that following a period of gentrification, the eccentric nine-block stretch of homes, storefronts, bars and restaurants known as Brady Street has managed to retain much of its alternative roots and old-world charm, while welcoming new and exciting developments.

Despite the neighborhood’s obvious successes and continued growth, it can still be difficult to definitively pinpoint the certain something that makes Brady Street so special. For Steph Salvia, executive director of the Brady Street Business Improvement District, the answer is simple. “Brady Street is unique in that we have such a dense population and huge community involvement. Our population is not only very involved, but also very diverse,” she explains. “We have a lot residents who are also business owners, and actually live above their businesses and are also involved in [planning] events. I don’t think you find that as often in other parts of the city,” Salvia continues. “It really does depend on the residents and their involvement.”

As this year’s Brady Street Festival draws nearer, Salvia is similarly inclined to credit the continuing popularity of the annual celebration to the more than 100 area volunteers who generously donate their time and energy to ensure the festival’s success. The one-day event will combine many of the dining and entertainment options provided at larger festivals with the neighborhood’s laidback sense of camaraderie, which is no small feat. As Salvia puts it, the 2013 Brady Street Festival is an opportunity to enjoy  “beer, cheese and awesome music.”

 

Things to do

Glorioso’s Italian Market has been providing patrons with traditional Mediterranean fare and old-fashioned customer service on Brady Street for more than 60 years. Glorioso’s Entertainment Stage will feature a cheese curd-eating competition, a children’s pizza-making contest, a Wisconsin cheese cooking demonstration from Glorioso’s Executive Chef Darin Wisniewski and the 2013 Brady Street Festival Cheese Awards presentation. Glorioso’s will also sponsor a cheese tasting offering 45 types of cheeses from 18 different artisan cheese producers.

The Brady Street Business Improvement District’s craft beer tent will serve up a sweet selection of craft brews—all carried by Glorioso’s—in 12-ounce and 4-ounce sizes, or $10 four-beer flights. But the craft tent is only the beginning for beer on a street with long-running corner taps (Roman Coin), taverns catering to global tastes (Nomad), wine bars with good beer lists (Balzac) and one of Brady Street’s newest tenants, World of Beer.

Situated at the intersection of Humboldt & Brady, the Brady Locals Stage will feature performances from 2013 Wisconsin Area Music Industry (WAMI) Rising Star award recipient Nora Collins along with a diverse assortment of local bands including Eagle Trace, Ikarus Down and Hugh Bob and the Hustle. A short walk away, familiar festival favorites I’m Not a Pilot and Trapper Schoepp & The Shades will take to the Hendrick’s Gin Delightfully Peculiar Stage, while the Bud Light Island Main Stage, on Brady Street’s west end, will welcome Mama Digdown’s Brass Band, the Gravity-Benders Crew dance team, Hoop Vive hula hoopers and the Casablanca Belly Dancers.

Topping off the evening, the wonderfully excessive Lipstick and Lashes Drag Show will return for yet another “dragtacular” year. Featuring the stylings of Lucinda Moore, Victoria DuPuis and Madison’s own Symphony Alexander Love, Lipstick and Lashes begins at 10 p.m. and ends when the music stops.

The organizers of this year’s Brady Street Festival are also looking to highlight the neighborhood’s retail storefronts by offering an eclectic selection of more than 45 merchandise vendors and an assortment of more than 25 food vendors, including Bosley on Brady, Jo-Cat’s Pub, Hi Hat Lounge and BelAir Cantina. Factor in the Casablanca Pro Wrestling Rumble 3, three opportunities to see the Division BMX Stunt Team, and the Adventure Rock climbing wall and CFSC bounce house, and there is a high probability of most attendees having a great time.

The Brady Street Festival runs from 11 a.m. to midnight on Saturday, July 27. For a complete entertainment schedule, visit bradystreet.org.

Emily Patti writes about food and culture for the Shepherd Express.