It’s a party that took on a bigger purpose.
And in the process, it ended up getting too big for the backyard.
Babapalooza, Jeff Romenesko’s annual backyard bash, is making a move this year to Appleton’s Memorial Park amphitheater. Saturday’s event — the seventh edition — will include a full day of live music featuring eight artists. The community is invited to take part.
Proceeds will once again benefit Future Urban Leaders, which provides learning experiences, mentorship and other support to Milwaukee’s urban youth.
Romenesko, who plays as part of Baba Ghanooj, said it all began simply enough.
“I was sitting on the top of my hill in the yard and thought, ‘it would be great to have music here,’” he said. “That’s how it started.”
Baba Ghanooj played. They invited other bands to join the fun.
But along the way, his son Ross got started on a project of his own.
The Milwaukee school teacher noticed in his first year, “that if I was going to have an impact, I needed to do more than teach in the classroom.”
Ross Romenesko started coaching basketball after class. He brought youth up to the Fox Valley to participate in the Neenah Streetball Challenge and saw some real impact.
Those experiences grew into Future Urban Leaders, which aims to empower youth toward leadership roles. They do so through health and wellness programming, arts and humanities, academics, service and college and career readiness programming.
As for the concert? It was a perfect fit to raise funds and awareness.
Participants in Future Urban Leaders take part in Babapalooza and share what’s been accomplished in the program.
The young members have done well to show how they’ve grown, Ross said.
“It’s amazing to see the impact they’ve on the people of Appleton as much as the money raised has had an impact on the program,” Ross said.
There may be bigger goals associated with Babapalooza today, but it’s no less the celebration of friends it always was.
The day will include raffles and a silent auction. Stone Arch Brewery, Hot Dog Charlies and Pops BBQ will be on hand to take care of hunger and thirst.
Romenesko was able to pull together another high-caliber list of musicians from local favorites including Auralai and Christopher Gold to headliners Bassel and The Supernaturals out of Chicago.
“We’re really happy with the line-up,” Jeff Romenesko said, “and we really hope we can fill up that amphitheater. We have a lot more room.”