Free Entertainment for Everyone!
All of our shows are free and open to the public. Food is available for purchase.
Kick off your shoes and dance to your favorites, or just sit back and listen.
Bring your chairs or blankets and enjoy the music.
The Friends of Phoenix Park Bandshell is a 501(c) group of volunteers who believe that we are here to provide a variety of quality free music to our community and promote a degree of culture otherwise not easily attained. To accomplish this mission, we are charged with: soliciting and contracting quality, professional musicians, in a variety of genres; raising funds to finance the program, and using the best resources to promote these events.
In addition, we work with other organizations in town to promote more cultural events, and to help increase tourism to Delavan.
Our bandshell is the only venue within Walworth Co. & beyond that provides ALL our LIVE music FREE, with a VARIETY of genres, and CONSISTENTLY, at least three times every week for three months.
In pre-territorial time, an Indian trail passed through the area from what is now known as Swan Creek to the Mill Pond. During the early community period, the land was wet marl meadow, which was filled in over the years.
In 1838, city founders Samuel F. and Henry Phoenix donated the 3.28 parcel of land to the village of Delavan as well as the four adjacent sides to be used as houses of worship. The original Christ Episcopal Church was first built on the south side in 1850 but later moved to its present site on Walworth Ave. Remaining on their original sites are the First Baptist Church of Delavan (1841 – west side), the United Church of Christ – Congregational (1844 – north side), and the United Methodist Church (1864 – east side).
In 1845, the first Delavan public school was built on the south side, next to the Episcopal Church. For 150 years the park was the school’s playground and known as “School Park” until it was rededicated as “Phoenix Park” in 1930.
In 1870, a covered band shell was erected in the north-central section of the park and utilized for various community events such as concerts, town meetings, and lectures.
On July 26, 1921, two-time presidential candidate William Jennings Bryan spoke before a crowd of about 1500 residents.
In 1926, the band shell was badly damaged when vandals exploded a charge of dynamite beneath the flooring. None-the less, numerous church picnics and other programs continued to be held in the park.
During the 1930’s and 40’s the park was flooded for winter ice skating, and, with federal WPA funds in 1935, a tennis court and shuffle board facilities were erected.
On December 16, 1948 the damaged band shell was removed.
In 1995, a clash about the best use of Phoenix Park developed between a neighborhood group and the city. Residents calling themselves the Good Neighbors, wanted the park to be used in a passive way with an emphasis on small children and seniors, but the Delavan Park and Recreation Commission was planning to add volleyball sand courts for older youth in addition to the existing basketball hoops. The idea for the courts came from the Mayor’s Youth Advisory Committee to provide alternative activities to combat potential gang influences. The “Neighbors” wanted to help revitalize the older historic areas of the city, moving youth activity to the Mill Pond area
The city hired the Mayo Corporation of Madison to create a master plan for the redevelopment of Phoenix Park. The master plan included the band shell as well as other elements from the suggestions of the Good Neighbors. The other elements of the master plan include playground facilities, sidewalks/trails, a gazebo, and chess table area.
In 2005, the city council authorized Mayo to provide a concept design for the new band shell. Upon approval, building bids were solicited, but all far exceeded the project budget. The plans were modified and new bids solicited. The final cost of construction for the band shell was $343,367.80.
Construction by Roberts Construction began in Fall 2006 and the new band shell was completed in the Spring of 2007. A dedication ceremony was held on June 16, 2007 with speeches by Mayor Mel Nieuwenhuis, Historian W. Gordon Yadon, and new Parks and Recreation Director, Jeff Malloy, a ribbon cutting with past and current Parks and Recreation staff, Parks and Recreation Commissioners, and Aldermen involved in the project and performances by Cedric Square, Stone the Poet and the University of Wisconsin Marching Band.
Entertainment for the first full summer season of 2007 was coordinated by the new Park and Recreation Director Jeff Malloy. Main attractions in a varied schedule that year included: Scott Thomas Entertainment, Stone The Poet, Music Never Ends, Tom Stanfield, Bone Daddy, the United States Air Force Starlifter, Eastern Sky, Gringo Loco and The Midnight Munchies, the Lake Geneva Community Orchestra, Walworth County Cloggers and Tony Costaneda’s Latin Jazz Sextet.
The annual Jazz in the Park event moved from Rudy Lange Sledding Hill to Phoenix Park.
In the fall of 2007, a new volunteer group was created to provide, promote, and fund entertainment for the new park shelter. The purpose of the Friends of the Phoenix Park Band Shell group is to obtain a variety of events to serve the Delavan community without a burden to the taxpayers. This group is new and growing and would love your input and participation.
For the last few years, the Friends’ schedule has included themed events with Thursday nights dedicated to Spiritual music, Saturday evenings for classical, Jazz and Pop/rock while Sunday afternoons are for Folk, Country, Blues and ethnic music. There are occasional performances just for kids and a growing number of all day events with food and a variety of entertainers.
The spring of 2012 saw some major new changes to the park itself: new tress were planted for more shade, new sidewalks for better accessibility, a large new sign to better announce performances, and a new, colorful dance floor for those who wish do more than listen to the music.
In 2106, the Friends group purchased a food truck which is selling soda, canned & tap beer, wine coolers, popcorn, chips and ice cream.
Many new changes will occur as the program at the shell grows.