Home Community Soon-to-close banquet hall was a one-time Fox Valley concert hub

Soon-to-close banquet hall was a one-time Fox Valley concert hub


The Post-Crescent’s Maureen Wallenfang wrote today about the forthcoming closure of Monarch Gardens, an icon among Fox Valley banquet facilities.

It was founded as the Country Aire in 1964 and if you’ve lived in the valley for a length of time, chances are you’ve attended a wedding reception or 12 within its four walls.

Believe it not, back in its younger years, it was a key piece of the Fox Valley’s live music puzzle and a draw for national acts.

Following today’s buzz, Valley Review spent a little time googling and little time with microfilm to get a sense of Country Aire the music venue.

It’s hosted craft fairs and flea markets. On this most recent Super Bowl Sunday, the facility was home to the Lions Club pancake breakfast.

In June 1972, Tommy James of Shondells fame arrived at the Country Aire for a show and while not too far removed from hits including “Crimson and Clover,” “I Think We’re Alone Now” and “Mony Mony.”

On Thursday, March 15, 1973, students of what was then called the Fox Valley Technical Institute brought R.E.O Speedwagon to the Spencer Street banquet hall. It was six years after their founding in Champaign, Ill.

The Country Aire had regular weekend rock shows and featured local and regional favorites such as Clicker and Soup.

Gary Lewis and the Playboys dropped in for a show on May 4, 1975.

A Country Aire concert that drew some press was the July 27, 1975 stop from Dolenz, Jones, Boyce and Hart.

When efforts toward a Monkees reunion crashed and burned in 1975, Mickey Dolenz and Davy Jones teamed up with Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart. The lesser known pair wrote and produced a number of the Monkees’ hits.

The revised version of the Monkees went on a tour that began in June and Appleton was their lone July date. Dolenz, Jones, Boyce and Hart released an album in 1976.

They played two shows on that July day in Appleton.