That Big Smile

summer, Summerfest

Today marks the last day of Summerfest 2008.  The last day to hear your favorite band.  The last day to eat your favorite Summerfest food, and the last day to see whether it is as crowded around the Miller Oasis as it was last year.  Most of all, it's the last day to put on your big Summerfest smile before another year of lakefront food, music, and fun comes to a close.

As we walk through the turnstile for the last day of Summerfest 2008, we will all reflect on the many concerts that we have seen throughout the years.  It may have been Bob Dylan, Huey Lewis and the News, or even Bob Hope, all who performed at the old Main Stage.  Maybe it was Paul Simon, Tina Turner, or John Denver at the Marcus Amphitheater; we all have our memories.  After each concert someone wearing a concert tour T-shirt could be overheard saying, “this was the best concert ever.” This person could point to the concert date on the back of that T-shirt and say, “I was there.”

We also need to look beyond those headliners that we saw throughout the years and reflect on the musicians that we have heard on the smaller stages; and there have been many regardless of your taste in music.  Where else but at Summerfest have you been able to hear the talents of Ringo Starr, Marcia Ball, and Kansas for one small price.

And then there have been the many up and coming artists performing throughout the day.  Their talents were never overlooked.  Today, the end of Summerfest 2008 is also your last chance to see tomorrow’s next star.

While we walk from stage to stage with a beer, soda, or bottle of water in our hands, we will be wearing a big Summerfest smile as remember those concerts from years gone by.

Even though today marks the last day of Summerfest 2008, it also marks a beginning.  The beginning of a new generation of people putting on a big Summerfest smile.  While these people may have attended previous Summerfests, tonight will mark the first Marcus Amphitheater concert for many of these younger Summerfest attendees.  Tonight the Jonas Brothers perform.

As I get ready to take my daughter to her first concert, unless you count The Wiggles concert a few years ago, I think about how many other young girls will be at the Amphitheater tonight; many holding their mother’s hand, many stopping to buy their first concert T-shirt, and many walking into the Marcus Amphitheater for the first time. Their ponytails blowing in the lake breezes, their eyes widened when they see the enormous stage, and big Summerfest smiles on their faces, as they look for their red, yellow, bleacher or lawn seats.

As mothers, we too will be wearing a big smile.  We will delight in this bonding experience with our daughters; a right of passage, taking our child to her first concert.  While we sit in our seats waiting for the show to begin, we will all reflect, if even for a brief moment, on our first concert experience.

Whether it was Bobby Sherman, David Cassidy, Donny Osmond, or any of the many other teen idols on Tiger Beat posters that adorned our bedroom walls, we too once upon a time, went to our first concert.  We’ll think about how excited we were to actually see our idol in person.  We were not listening to our hi-fis play scratchy 45s or 8-track tapes that we saved enough money to buy at Musicland.  No, we were hearing our Tiger Beat picture sing live.

We will imagine what our mothers were thinking as they watched us sing and dance along to our idols on stage.  Did they pull earplugs out of their Coach or Etienne Aigner purses?  Did they really want to listen to the music or were they there just to accompany their daughters?

Then as the walls of the Marcus Amphitheater come alive with music, we will be snapped back into the present.  Moms will dig through their Coach or Vera Bradley purses pulling out earplugs.  We will put them in to help mute the noise, whether it is to help us ignore the music or to help drown out the screams coming from all the pre-teen and teenage girls.  The noise will be deafening and smiles will abound.  Each one of us will look around at the sea of mothers and daughters in the Amphitheater.  We will all realize that we have become our mothers and we now know what their sentiments were when they took us to our first concert.  We hope that our girls will one day be able to share this same experience with their daughters.

After the last encore is played, the sea of mothers and daughters will disburse. We will re-join the other Summerfest patrons.  Girls will be proudly wearing their concert T-shirt and each saying, “this was the best concert ever.”

When it’s time to leave for the evening, young and old will walk out the center white Mid-Gate, each person sporting a big Summerfest smile.   The last Summerfest smile for 2008.

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