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With so many unexpected adventures right here in Wisconsin, this series helps you discover great places to visit throughout the state.

200 artists, 40 venues, 4 days of music: Plan a trip to Appleton's Mile of Music

Performer at Mile of Music in Appleton.
Larry Radloff/Larry Radloff Photography
Performer at Mile of Music in Appleton.

The Mile of Music is a music lovers’ dream come true. You can see 200 artists perform all within one mile of Downtown Appleton over four days and — it's free!

This year, the Mile of Music is celebrating its tenth year and organizers say no matter what kind of music you enjoy, there will be something for everyone at the festival.

"We might be a little biased but we always say that there really is something for everyone and I think that’s something we’re really proud to have developed over the ten years of the festival," that's according to Kim Willem, she's the events, promotion and social media manager for the Mile of Music.

The festival all takes place within a mile stretch of Downtown Appleton, although Willem says it has grown to a little over a mile at this point. The artists will perform at 40 different venues from August 3 through August 6.

Performance at Mile of Music in Appleton.
Performance at Mile of Music in Appleton.

"We feature original, upcoming artists in different coffee shops, bars, restaurants, parks and it's all original music. So no covers and it is completely free to attend," Willem says.

Willem says you'll be able to hear anything from indie folk artists, to rock, pop, and reggae music.

"Something we also like to encourage fans to do is to explore maybe a type of music that they wouldn't typically be interested in because you really never know what you might end up coming away with," Willem suggests.

But this isn't just a great experience for people who enjoy live music. The festival organizers pride themselves on taking care of the performers too. In the festival's third year, the organizers created an artist care program. It includes 13 businesses that offer services from hair cuts, to massage therapy, to dental care.

"A lot of these artists don't have health insurance or they're just not home a lot to take advantage of those preventative care visits," Willem explains.

Anne Sayers is the tourism secretary for Travel Wisconsin and a self-proclaimed fan of the Mile of Music.

"It's just a great way to get to know [Appleton] and it's such a fantastic place, even beyond the music," Sayers says. "The food, the outdoor recreation, the performing arts, the shopping — there's just a lot to see and so as a music fan, you get to experience all of that."

Performance at Mile of Music in Appleton.
Performance at Mile of Music in Appleton.

There are shops and restaurants all along the mile where the festival takes place. Sayers recommends trying ramen at Bowl 91.

"I always go there for ramen, I swear it's the best ramen anywhere in the world! I never miss it. I actually schedule it into my Mile of Music schedule when I will make my stops there," Sayers says.

Sayers also recommends the cheese curds from Stone Arch Brew Pub.

"They're handmade in Chippewa Falls with Scottish Ale, brewed by Stone Arch and then they're deep fried and served with ranch or marinara. I mean, like you have to," Sayers says.

For Christmas in July, Sayers recommends grabbing a drink at Cleo's.

"It's kind of a Christmas bar year-round," Sayers explains. "So it's decked out in ornaments, garlands, snowflakes, all the other Christmas decorations. It's great place to have a drink!"

Art lovers can also pay a visit to the Trout Museum of Art. Sayers describes it as a beautiful art museum with a fantastic gift shop. She also recommends music lovers stop in at Heid Music. She says it's a family business that has been around for almost a century that's a staple in Appleton.

Sayers says there are lots of unique places to stay in the Appleton area. She recommends the Courtyard Appleton Riverfront on the Fox River. She says it's a great location for people attending the festival.

Another great option for lodging is the Copperleaf Boutique Hotel.

"It's a beautiful boutique hotel. Their rooms have high end bedding, fireplaces in the rooms, two person jacuzzi tubs and that is attached to a really fun restaurant called Rye," Sayers explains.

The Mile of Music starts on August 3. Willem says ten years in, there's a lot to be proud of and a lot to look forward to.

"I think especially coming out of the pandemic, it's been really great to just have a music community that's developed here in Appleton year-round. I think being able to celebrate that at Mile 10 this year is really cool," Willem says.

Becky is WUWM's executive producer of Lake Effect.
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