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History of the City of Racine
History of Reef Point Marina,
Festival Hall, Festival Park
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A video of the History of the creation of ReefPoint Marina, Festival Hall and Festival Park created by the Racine Public Library.
The idea for Reef Point Marina was started in 1973 when the City Council under Mayor Olson started to purchase lakefront property with the goal of creating the Reef Point Marina, Festival Hall, and Festival Hall Park. Previously the lake front consisted of a car dealership, a trunk factory, and a manufactured gas plant with gas storage tanks and a large coal pile.
In 1982 a collaboration was made between the City of Racine, Racine County, and local business' in an effort to bring people and business back downtown after Regency Mall was built, luring people to the west side away from downtown and leading to the closing of local small businesses.
Spurred by SC Johnson and Sons, 8 major local business and industries worked together to create an organization that would turn the downtown blight around. This led to the creation of the Downtown Racine Development Corporation, known as DRDC. The DRDC was led by Bob Gibson who was the corporate real-estate manager for SC Johnson.
Early on the DRDC had three goals to accomplish to be successful in their mission:
Ground work for the Reefpoint Marina began in the spring of 1985.
A study was performed by Warzyn Engineering Inc. company out of Madison Wisconsin along with, Baird and company out of Ottawa Canada to design the Marina that would include over 900 available slips and break water that would be able to stop any large waves coming from the east and from the north during stormy days.
Construction began with the creation of what would later be named the Christopher Columbus Causeway. Over 18,000 truck loads were used to bring in nearly 350,000 tons of stone to create the breakwaters, the causeway, and land mass that today hosts the Reef Point Brew House and Marina offices.
One of the suggestions brought forth by Johnson, Johnson, and Roy was to build a festival park. The reasoning behind the idea was there were roughly 85 festivals a year around the City of Racine area. These ranged from church festivals, ethnic festivals to the popular Salman-A-Rama which is one of the largest fresh water fishing contests in the Midwest area.
Festival Park was designed to be located on an area of 5 acres between 4th and 5th street on the lake. After talking to a great many of groups from the Racine Symphony Orchestra (which was performing in Kenosha because Racine lacked a venue large enough) to the Case Corporation who needed a venue to hold a banquet that could hold up to 1,200 people. The consensus was that the park needed a dynamic building that could fulfill many uses from hosting concerts, weddings, banquets, and large conventions to being able to compete with other venue centers around the area, such as Oshkosh and Green Bay, for music and other entertainment.
To pay for the park donations were sought from local business who ultimately pledged the 3 million that was needed to complete the project. In addition to large corporate sponsors, Founders Square was created with the help of donations from individuals or groups who donated $25 or more and received a brick with their name engraved on it. People were also allowed to sponsor other purchases for the park such as trees, park benches, lights, or a trash cans which could be dedicated to family or friends they wished to honor. This led to more than an additional $100,000 for the creation of Festival Park.
Ground breaking for Festival Hall took place in mid-summer of 1985 and was completed in 1987. Today Festival and Festival Park is managed by
VenuWorks and is able to accommodate any event from a corporate retreat, to a wedding or trade show.
For more information about renting Festival Hall or Festival Park for your next event contact
VenuWorks today by visiting their
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