Former bandstand in Johnson Creek's Veterans Park.

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Johnson Creek planning 100th anniversary events

By Lloyd Schultz for the Daily Times, 05/28/2003


It's a celebration 100 years in the making. During the weekend-long event, June 13, 14 and 15, the village of Johnson Creek will commemorate the community's incorporation a century ago. There will be activities for all interests and ages.

According to documents recording the history of Jefferson County, the settlement that located itself on the borders of the Aztalan and Farmington townships near a tributary east of the Rock River was originally called Belleville.

Besides the matter of there being another Belleville in Wisconsin, a more prominent land owner influenced a name change to Johnson's Creek. Shortly after Wisconsin became a state, the village was designated Johnson Creek when the Postmaster General's office in Washington, D.C. lopped off the apostrophe and "s," giving the community its final name change.

Even though the diminutive community remained viable and grew significantly, it wasn't until 1903 that its incorporation gave it the status of a full-fledged village in the state.

Much changed over the ensuing century. Instead of the community's growth and focus centering at the intersection of a waterway and a railroad, the village is now identified more with the intersection of state Highway 26 and Interstate 94.

But its past remains visible, and the mid-June celebration brings people to the community's historic core for music food, crafts and "turn-of-the 19th century" fun.

One of the highlights of the community-wide commemoration will be the dedication of a new gazebo in Veteran's Park. Additionally, there will be a dedication of a historic marker that replaces honor boards that formerly listed deceased veterans who left from the Johnson Creek train platform.


The gazebo was a joint project of the Johnson Creek Historical Society and the community, built with funds raised from selling paving bricks to individuals and businesses. The society also held a variety of fund-raisers to make the gazebo a reality.

The new structure replaces an old one that was two stories high and served as a bandstand from around the turn of the last century through the 1950s. When it was deemed unsafe as a two-story structure, it was taken down, and the top half was moved to Fireman's Park near the baseball diamonds to serve refreshments.

Too many considerations related to liability, purpose and design changed the new structure from being a two-story bandstand, but through the work of volunteers, the large gazebo was built providing refuge from the sun during the summer and a focus for many park activities.

The historical society also decided it would replace the honor boards that had listed service members who left from the Johnson Creek train station on their way to serve the nation in past armed conflicts. The new granite honor board is a historic marker that duplicates the names that were on the old wooden roster.

Along with the dedication of the gazebo and marker on Sunday morning, the weekend has activities taking place in three parks simultaneously, as well as the village hall and other venues.

Friday evening the Van Eskes of Watertown will spend the evening at Fireman's Park. On Saturday, classic rock fills the air and people relive the golden age of rock and roll when The Classics perform. Sunday afternoon it's music and entertainment with Scratch and the Cats.

Plenty of food will be available served by a variety of community groups in Fireman's Park and Veterans Park. And just in case people think their imagination is playing tricks, the smell of warm Krispy Kreme doughnuts will be a reality as the Johnson Creek Educational Foundation will be serving them warm, delivered from the maker. They are also taking orders in advance.

Along with the entertainment and food will be opportunities for those specifically interested in the historic aspects of the village's past. In addition to a tour of historic homes and business locations, a fund-raiser for the local historical society, there will be a vintage fashion show, as well as a costume contest. On Saturday there will be a vintage car and tractor show.

Activities that span time, including a softball tournament, a youth baseball tournament and a possible euchre tournament, will provide entertainment and involvement at the pace of an earlier time.

Returning to the role the post office played in the village's past, the postmaster will provide a special cancellation commemorating the event for a portion of Saturday and Sunday during the centennial weekend.

Other highlights include a fireworks display Saturday evening and a concert by the Johnson Creek High School band mid-day Sunday. Crafts, farm fresh products and ongoing demonstrations by the Log Hogger, a chainsaw sculptor, will also be featured.

More than three years ago a centennial committee was formed that included members of several sectors of the community and included Mike Landers, George Sabol, Connie Oestreich, Carol O'Neil, Art Ninmann, Debra Brown, Roberta Gray and Chris Bezoenik, along with other representatives of the business community and village officials. The group was chaired by Cindie Maegli.