Tuesday, July 17, 2012

A Day of Wine and Music: Milwaukee's Bastille Days 2012

This past Sunday, I braved the 90 degree heat to head to downtown Milwaukee to attend Bastille Days, a free festival that is held around Cathedrial Square.  Knowing I had another assignment due for my Photo Composition class, I figured this was a great opportunity to head closer to the lake and enjoy some wine, french food, music and shopping before working on my photos.

The festival is one of my favorites, simply because I'm enamored with french culture.  And Bastille Days does not disappoint.  I started out by watching one of the festival's cooking demonstrations, this one from Michael Long, executive chef at Hotel Metro, who prepared a simple vegetable soup.  Afterwards, I was hungry, so I went down to the north end of the festival and took this shot of the festival's smaller version of the Eiffel Tower on my way:

After getting some pomme frittes and a Belgian ale, I stopped at the Tourisme Quebec Stage, where I sat for a while (in the shade, thank goodness) and listened to a really good guitar player and singer named John Stano.  Although a lot of his songs were folk in nature (I'm more of a rock-and-roll type of girl), John was very good, and not only did he play his own songs, but also those from Woody Guthrie, Hank Williams, Bob Dylan and others.

I knew sooner or later, I would have to leave my shady oasis and venture back out into the sun and heat, so after a little shopping and picture-taking inside St. John's chapel, I wandered over to where they were having the festival's annual Waiter/Waitress race.  This is where I took the majority of my photos of the festival because, simply, it was fun to watch.  I used my telephoto lens for these shots since there were so many people around, so I managed to get this shot of the pre-race set up:

Now, the Waiter/Waitress race is no simple "carry a tray of filled wine glasses from one end to the other" kind of deal.  There are actual obstacles the wait staff have to overcome.  Each restaurant has a team of 2 with one team member at one end of the course and one at the other.  The first team member has to open the bottle of wine and pour into two glasses, as such:

The first team member then has to walk around a fence and then over two chairs situated end-to-end, all with the tray of wine, up and over the center stage, through a set of tires, and then over to where the 2nd team member is waiting to take over.  The 2nd team member then takes the tray and heads back the other way, as such:

The 2nd team member, then goes back through the tires, as such:

Then the team member has to "serve" 2 customers situated on center stage, including having them pay the bill, and making sure their service was to their satisfaction.

Then the team member has to go back over the 2 chairs, around the fence again, and back to the starting line.  And both team members have to keep the wine glasses and bottle upright the whole time through the obstacle course, or they lose points.  At the end of the race, the 2nd member of each team then has to answer a trivia question for additional points.

The race was fun and interesting to watch, although I wouldn't want to do it in the 90 degree heat.  I didn't stay long enough to find out the winner, because I couldn't take the heat any longer, but I hope everyone had a good time, racers and spectators alike.

Milwaukee's Bastille Days is just one of many ethnic festivals held throughout the summer.  We have already had Polish Fest, but coming up this weekend is Festa Italiana, followed by German Fest, African World Fest, Irish Fest, Fiesta Mexicana and Indian Summer.  For more information on Milwaukee's ethinic festivals, and all of the other festivals being held in the area this summer, go to http://onmilwaukee.com/myOMC/festivals.

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