Mid summer and the months of July and August are the busiest time of year for Winnebago County Parks and Sunnyview Expo Center. What the Christmas Holidays are to retailers with all the preparation and the crowds, the peak summer months are to parks. And it takes a lot of work by a very small staff to keep everything running smoothly.
Ever wonder how all the grass gets mowed, the soccer fields striped, the shelters cleaned after a weekend of family get-togethers, and the occasional tree gets removed after having fallen on the Mascoutin Trail? That’s in addition to scooping a lot of horse manure out of up to 5 barns and getting the expo site ready for the next incoming event.
It’s all about team work. The team at Winnebago County Parks and Sunnyview Expo Center work closely with our partner organizations, Official Trail Ambassadors, lessees, neighborhood associations and the public to get everything done. Not bad for a regular staff of 4 full time on site, 2 part time on site, 3 office staff and 14 seasonal laborers, as well as 2 seasonal park rangers.
Here’s an example of preparations for one of the biggest weekends of the summer, July 13-15. Lifest comes in to begin set up on July 6 at the expo, and will be spreading out over the entire grounds. Camping areas need mowing, after clean up from the largest horse show that is hosted at the site, which took place the weekend of June 30-July 1. There’s also cleaning of restrooms and showers, weeding, making sure damp areas are pre-chipped, fences are in tact and gates moving smoothly. Sprinkler systems and HVAC are checked along with fire extinguishers and the onsite AED. Life Promotions’ Green Team of volunteers are a huge asset as they help out with putting in temporary fencing, directional signage, stocking of restrooms, and any other little things that the event needs done. With the opening of Sunnyview Stadium this year there’s a lot of excitement happening as well as a few new areas to take care of in preparation for the big week. This event also rents all of the shelters in the Winnebago County Community Park and uses the roadways and parking areas for the event. That means that the park has to be in tip top shape as well with the Pavilion ready to go as command central for event parking attendants and camping helpers. There’s a 5K that takes place in the park and event attendees also take advantage of the many amenities like the disc golf course and multi-sport court. With a 15% increase in daily attendance, Lifest looks to almost 25,000 people on site per day.
In addition to Lifest , Soccer Saturday is taking place on the same weekend this year. Due to scheduling this alignment happens every few years. Oshkosh Youth Soccer Club is in charge of striping the fields and signage for their event which begins on Friday and stretches into Saturday evening. As many as 5,000 soccer players are expected, along with their families. OYSC does a great job with set up and traffic control!
There’s also a Summer Fun Run in the Park on Sunday night July 15 which is expected to have over 100 kids and parents taking part, coming from all across the area.
All of this brings in a huge amount of tourism spending to Winnebago County with Lifest alone estimated by the Oshkosh Convention & Visitor’s Bureau as bringing in $2,000,000.00, for hotels, restaurants, grocery stores, and gas stations, as well as many other businesses.
And that’s just one weekend in July. So what’s next? Now we get ready to do it all over again. There’s a large horse show moving in immediately after Lifest and the Oshkosh Rugby Pigfest tournament is taking place the same weekend. Once that is over with we get ready for the Winnebago County Fair, another Oshkosh Fun Run, a Doggie Paddle at the Park (or three), a Three on Three Soccer Tournament, Fox Valley Disc Golf Tournament, Water City Soccer Club Tournament, and the list goes on. This is all in addition to the regular weekly shelter rentals, Best Friends Dog Park maintenance (thanks Friends of Winnebago County Dog Parks for the help), trainings and classes taking place in the expo building, the Winnebagoland BMX and Kids Kart Club weekly events and mowing trails in the J.P. Coughlin Nature Area and the new Ken Roble Conservation Park.
Did the WIOUWASH, and Tribal Heritage Crossing trails get mentioned? Those need maintenance too and we are happy to have our Official Trail Ambassadors on board to help keep them clean. Thank you to Oshkosh Cycling Club, the Butte des Morts Conservation Club, Green Lake Greenways and Oshkosh Corporation.
As you can see with over 16 miles of recreation trail, 6 nature preserves, 7 boat landings, grounds maintenance of the J.P. Coughlin Center building, the 270 acre Winnebago County Community Park and 100+ acre Sunnyview Expo Center there’s an enormous amount of bang for the buck taking place in Winnebago County Parks.
Many thanks and a huge salute goes out to our team, partners, sponsors and everyone who helps make “Christmas in July” a success year after year. We couldn’t do it without you.