Project North: A Dynamic New Festival In The Northwoods

Rhinelander Festival Debut Will Showcase Live Music, Interactive Art, Sustainability

Man giving sustainability talk
Project North Festival in Rhinelander will focus in large part on conversations about preservation and sustainability. Nik Nerburn. 

These days, it can seem like there’s a festival for everything. But rarely do they combine music, art and sustainability. Project North does just that, with a goal of showcasing Rhinelander — from its captivating Northwoods landscape to its community commitment to cultural and development efforts.

The original idea was loosely inspired by South by Southwest, an annual festival in Austin, Texas, except Project North swaps the tech gadgets for a focus on the environment.

Stay informed on the latest news

Sign up for WPR’s email newsletter.

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

“Living up here in the Northwoods, that’s one of our greatest assets, is our environment. We really wanted the festival to be something that shows off not just the arts and culture that we have up here, but also our environmental attributes,” said Melinda Childs, part of ArtStart, a Rhinelander organization that works to strengthen the community through arts education and cultural engagement.

It’s the festival’s debut year. It starts Thursday, Sept. 26 and goes through Saturday, Sept. 28. It’ll take place primarily in downtown Rhinelander, with some of the art exhibitions just outside of town on nearby college campuses.

“We have a lot of community partners and we’re really trying to get the festival all over the community of Rhinelander,” said Childs.

As for who’s performing, Childs said they have a diverse lineup.

“There’s not any specific genre represented. From bluegrass to funk to metal, just a whole bunch of different bands,” Childs said.

Other performers include local talents like Scott Kirby and Boat Patrol, as well as The Shook Twins, of Portland, Oregon.

And don’t forget the heart of the festival, which is all about preserving the environment.

[[{“fid”:”1032586″,”view_mode”:”full_width”,”fields”:{“format”:”full_width”,”alignment”:””,”field_image_caption[und][0][value]”:”%3Cp%3EWoman%20sketches%20flower%2C%20Project%20North%20Festival%20will%20focus%20on%20celebrating%20and%20preserving%20the%20natural%20beauty%20of%20the%20Northwoods.%20%3Cem%3ENik%20Nerburn.%3C%2Fem%3E%3C%2Fp%3E%0A”,”field_image_caption[und][0][format]”:”full_html”,”field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]”:”Woman sketching flower”,”field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]”:”Woman sketching flower”},”type”:”media”,”field_deltas”:{“1”:{“format”:”full_width”,”alignment”:””,”field_image_caption[und][0][value]”:”%3Cp%3EWoman%20sketches%20flower%2C%20Project%20North%20Festival%20will%20focus%20on%20celebrating%20and%20preserving%20the%20natural%20beauty%20of%20the%20Northwoods.%20%3Cem%3ENik%20Nerburn.%3C%2Fem%3E%3C%2Fp%3E%0A”,”field_image_caption[und][0][format]”:”full_html”,”field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]”:”Woman sketching flower”,”field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]”:”Woman sketching flower”}},”link_text”:false,”attributes”:{“alt”:”Woman sketching flower”,”title”:”Woman sketching flower”,”class”:”media-element file-full-width”,”data-delta”:”1″}}]]

“One of our main sustainability events will be an ‘Eco Village,’ which will give participants an opportunity to visit educational booths, purchase sustainable goods and hear expert presenters. We’re also tying it in with the food and beer — using refillable souvenir cups,” says Childs. “So refill, don’t landfill is a big part of the festival’s philosophy.”

For more information visit Or, check out these lesser-known events happening around the state:

  • Labor Day weekend in Sheboygan has become home to the annual gathering of surfers from all over the world, after all it is the beginning of the midwest surfing season.
  • On Sept. 7, Manitowoc will celebrate “Sputnik Fest,” the annual celebration that commemorates the day in 1962 when a 20-pound piece of Russian Sputnik IV landed on a street corner.
  • Also on Sept. 7, you can attend the “Pardeeville Watermelon Festival.” The town is home to the U.S. watermelon speed eating and seed spitting championships, which has been going on for more than 50 years.
While supplies last... WPR Sticker Pack. With your gift of any amount. Donate Now.