Waunafest kicks off this weekend but no parade - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Waunafest kicks off this weekend but no parade

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WAUNAKEE (WKOW) -- Families will be out all weekend enjoying the annual Waunafest but one of the biggest attractions was canceled this year.

Waunafest coordinators had to scratch the annual parade, typically held on Sunday, because of construction on Waunakee's Main Street. The project started in May and is expected to continue through the rest of the summer.

Organizers tell 27 News they're still doing all the traditional events, like the Waunarun, the carnival and softball tournament, and have added more family friendly activities to make up for not having a parade.

"We really brought in a lot more music and for younger kids who really enjoyed the parade we brought in some bouncy houses this year," says coordinator Sheila Weihert.

Visitors this year also will be able to buy new wristband specials for unlimited rides at the carnival. For more than 30 years, the event has been a fundraiser for local charities and organizations, who set up booths throughout the weekend, selling food and drinks.

Organizers did try to find a way to move the parade route out of the construction zone, but couldn't find an option that would work safely. The project started in May and is expected to continue through the rest of the summer. It's been rough on local businesses in the area.

"You can still get to where you want to go in Waunakee. You had to come up with your alternate route," says Waunakee Area Chamber of Commerce executive director Ellen Schaff. "They've had to think outside the box on how to draw customers in with special promotions and sales and of course foot traffic is down in general."

Schaff says the project has been on schedule for the most part. Roads should be open by the end of August. The plans aim to get people through town more safely and efficiently. Waunakee is paying $1 million toward the project and is getting $4 million in state and federal funds.

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