Live Music and Big Top

Episode 9 Show notes

(May 2018) On this episode of Bayfield County Wild Co-hosts Nancy Christopher and Mary Motiff, director of Bayfield County Tourism, speak with Phillip Anich, Operations Manager at Big Top Chautauqua, the largest music venue in Bayfield County. They discuss the Big Top’s history and summer schedule, as well as other upcoming area events.

Big Top Inside

Live Music Venues

As winter finally melts away for good this year, it’s time to get out and see some live music all around Bayfield County! A few venues that feature year ‘round entertainment include:

  • Legendary Waters Resort & Casino – Located north of Bayfield in Red Cliff, their event center has hosted indoor pow wows, winter luaus and lots of musical performances. They have a patio for outdoor concerts, too, with a stellar lake view, food and drink.
  • White Winter Winery – Special events are hosted at the winery in Iron River periodically throughout the year and quite often in the summer and fall.
  • Harborview Event Center – Hosts bands and special events year-round in Washburn.
  • Northern Great Lakes Visitors Center – Performances are held here periodically, as well as presentations and guest speakers.

Pubs and restaurants with live music:

If outdoor concerts are more your style:

  • The rooftop deck at the Bayfield Inn provides a great view of Lake Superior.
  • The Concerts By The Lake series offers midweek shows through the summer, ranging from blues, jazz reggae and Latin to folk, country and alternative-rock.
  • In southern Bayfield County, the Rookery Pub in Cable has a beautiful patio out back, where you can enjoy music before or during your dinner.

Big Top Chautauqua

Phillip AnichPhillip Anich grew up skiing at Mt. Ashwabay and for nearly 30 years, he’s been working with the many dedicated volunteers at Washburn’s Big Top Chautauqua, located at the base of Mt. Ashwabay, the largest music venue in Bayfield County. An original member of the Big Top’s Blue Canvas Orchestra, Phillip is currently the venue’s Operations Manager. He continues to sing in original house shows, which in 2018 include Big Top Does The Beatles, Superior!: Songs & Stories of the Big Lake, and Wild Woods & Waters.

Big Top Chautauqua is a non-profit performance venue that opened in 1986. Its house shows are original musicals that combine education and entertainment for a unique multimedia experience. Local sponsors provide free shuttle service to the Big Top from surrounding communities.

In addition to house shows, lots of famous personalities appear on stage under the Big Top. This year’s calendar includes gigs by Jackson Browne, Buddy Guy, Lyle Lovett, Rufus Wainwright and more. Kenny G, Blues Traveler and Ronnie Milsap also make their debut appearances at the Big Top in 2018. Other events scheduled include their annual vocal competition Big Top Idol, as well as a Free Family Series on Saturdays.

The canvas tents are no longer being manufactured, so plans are underway for a new venue on the property adjacent to the ski hill. The goal is to retain the character, acoustics and feel of the current set-up, while expanding the capacity to 1,200 from today’s 950.

Those interested in attending events at the Big Top this year can visit for scheduling or call 888-BIG-TENT (244-8368). Wisconsin Public Radio continues to broadcast previous live shows from the Big Top on Tent Show Radio each Saturday night at 7pm.

May Events

Spring is in full bloom with many varieties of events in Bayfield County!

For Mother’s Day, why not give the gift of some beautiful flowers, plants or even a fruit tree? Area greenhouses like Tetzner’s in Washburn or Peterson Crystal Lake Greenhouse in Iron River are great stops to pick out the perfect hanging basket.

May 1 – May 29: On top of all the greenhouses in the Bayfield County area, gardening enthusiasts should also take note of the Red Barn Plant Sale at Hauser’s Superior View Farm in Bayfield throughout the month of May. Various bare root trees and plants are available for purchase.

May 5: The great tradition of Wisconsin fishing opens yearly the first Saturday in May. Consult this PDF for a full list of opening dates by species. Check out Bayfield County’s new fishing report ( to find out where the fish are biting on the area’s more than 900 inland lakes, along with tips by knowledgeable guide Josh Teigen.

May 11 – June 10: Admire over 50,000 blooming daffodils, a vibrant mosaic of roadside lupine & rolling orchards of apple blossoms bursting into rosy color during our month-long celebration of spring, Bayfield In Bloom! Special events include a live WPR broadcast of Garden Talk and a Garden Expo at the historic Lakeside Pavilion in downtown Bayfield, plus self-guided garden tours and the annual Blessing of the Fleet.

May 12: The Hungry Bear 100 is the true wilderness event around the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest. Bicyclists ride on gravel roads and end the race with a slice of pie from Tilly’s Pies in Cable!

May 12: Seasonal cruises of the Apostle Islands kick-off with the classic Grand Tours. Other specialty cruises, including sunset tours and trips to the islands with lighthouse tours, start later in May and extend into the fall.

May 14 – June 8: Eat. Drink. Washburn, organized by the Washburn Area Chamber of Commerce, highlights area restaurants and provides foodies with a fun passport. Collect stamps on your passport from three participating restaurants, and be entered to win a $50 gift certificate from a restaurant of your choice!

May 19: Active runners and fitness enthusiasts can take part in the Madeline Island Marathon & Half Marathon. With the half marathon already sold out, make sure to register for the full marathon – which is a Boston Marathon qualifier -- soon, as registration is currently at 70% capacity.

May 26: Another horticultural event to attend is the Native Plant Sale at the Cable Natural History Museum. Coinciding with the grand opening of their museum’s new exhibit on bees, the sale has a focus on plants that attract native pollinators.

June Preview

We’ll discuss the wonderful hiking trails and glorious waterfalls that are home to Bayfield County. Lost Creek Falls in particular, near Cornucopia, is undergoing improvements thanks to the Forestry and Parks Department that we’re eager to share with you!

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Affiliate Notes

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Bear Country Convenience Store & Gas Station – More than just gas and groceries, Bear Country is your one-stop shop during your stay in beautiful Northern Wisconsin. Rent boats or cabins, pick up hunting supplies or even get your dry cleaning done! Bear Country is located between Ashland and Hayward, in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest, near Drummond Lake.

Staudemeyer’s Four Season Resort – A family tradition since 1964, Staudemeyer’s is nestled along Lake Namakagon and features cozy lakeside cottages as well as beautiful vacation homes. Accommodations include complete kitchens, private piers, custom fireplaces and more. Whether for a scenic lakeside wedding or a simple fishing getaway, Straudemeyer’s offers it all.

Scenic Drive Resort – Located within the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest in Iron River, more than 35 acres of magnificent trees and lush open spaces await you. Take in over 1,100 feet of shoreline on Lake Delta during your perfect escape. Enjoy a delicious meal, including their award-winning ribs, on their gorgeous deck overlooking the lake.