This Memorial Day: Brats and Bears

Posted by Laura Kocum on Tuesday, May 19th, 2015 at 9:06pm.

Brat Fest Madison WIThis weekend, forget your grill.  Join thousands at the Alliant Energy Center grounds for Brat Fest 2015. The event, presented by Johnsonville and produced by Metcalfe's, provides tasty and inexpensive brats and coordinating menu items, concerts, play areas and even exercise for the whole family. And after you've had a chance to try all the delicious grilled food, exercise isn't a bad idea.

There are multiple opportunities for races, rowing, climbing and exploring throughout the weekend. Friday includes sack races for kids and soccer demonstrations by Keva coaches. On Saturday morning, the Bun Run begins at 8:30 a.m. Runners can choose a 5K or 10k route. Following the adult run, kids can do the MUDstard run, an obstacle course that includes ketchup, mustard, mud and water challenges. With a length of just 1K, the course is perfect for kids, who will be delighted by the challenges (and the mess) along the way. Then there's volleyball tournaments, open play sports for kids, bounce houses, and carnival rides to keep everyone busy. Martial arts demonstrations by Team Infinity and flag football games by Keva are also part of the fun.

Of course, Brat Fest is known for its musical entertainment. This year's 5 stages include performers like Bret Michaels, Hawk Nelson, The Charlie Daniels Band and Sidewalk Prophets. The best part? Admission is free to each!

Proceeds for Brat Fest support more than one hundred local charities. The event began in 1983 with just a simple brat stand at Metcalfe's. In 2005 it moved to Willow Island at the Alliant Energy Center. The festival has set the world record in 2010 for brats 209,376 brats. The festival has donated almost 1.5 million dollars to local charities since its inception.

Henry Vilas Zoo Arctic PassageAnd while Brat Fest can't be overlooked, there's another big event to catch in Madison this weekend. The Henry Vilas Zoo is opening Arctic Passage, its newest, and largest renovation to date. The exhibit returns bears to the zoo, and allows them to be viewed in environments that are much healthier for the animals.  Grizzly bears can fish in the stream designed as part of their habitat. Twin polar bears and the zoo's beloved seals will delight visitors, as they swim in viewable water tanks. Arctic Passage continues the zoo's commitment to green energy and sustainable environments. Solar panels, rainwater harvesting and underground storage tanks will save the water used by the animals. Admission is always free at the Henry Vilas Zoo.

It's worth your time to make stops at Brat Fest and the zoo this weekend. Madison is fortunate to offer so many family-friendly events!

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