It may come as a surprise to some of you who only come downtown for the Farmers' Market, Concerts on the Square, or the Art Fairs on and off the Square, but for a long period of time, not many decades ago, the Capitol Square was a dead zone after business hours. And there wasn't a hell of a lot of business going on during hours.
The dire situation led to efforts to bring life back to downtown, including the formation of DMI (Downtown Madison Inc.), and that in turn led to schemes to attract people downtown. I still have metal cup, a souvenir of one of those efforts, proclaiming "Tin years of downtown WE-VITALIZATION." One of those bright ideas was Paddle & Portage, a unique event that will have its 33rd iteration on July 21. For the first time, it is being managed by Isthmus as we become more involved in events as part of our business model.
More history and particulars regarding Paddle & Portage can be found in an article by Jay Rath on page 35. In short, paddlers put their craft in Lake Mendota at James Madison Park, navigate a triangular course, carry (portage) their boats across the isthmus, enter Lake Monona at Law Park and paddle to Olin Park. Then they party.
The public is invited to witness the race finish and join the party and awards ceremony. That's scheduled to happen at 12:30 p.m. There is an ad directly across from this column with all the details and the names of all the sponsors who are in on this with us. Whether you hit Maxwell Street Days before or after is strictly up to you.
Remember, this is all scheduled to happen next weekend. This weekend, July 14 and 15, is Art Fair weekend, and Isthmus will be present there. Look for our booth selling cover reproductions at a ridiculously low price.