The Band Stand

Marathon Park 1201 Stewart Ave

Marathon County Historical Society
Written By Marathon County Historical Society

Marathon County Historical Society- home of the Yawkey House Museum & The Woodson History Center.

Marathon Park's Band Stand

From the earliest days of the fairground, music accompanied events at the fair. Often a band would be on hand to play a number or two to entertain the crowd between heats of horse racing.

The Concert Band

By the turn of the twentieth century, sit-down concerts were becoming popular as entertainment in their own right. Instead of providing “fill” between other events, bands would perform a chosen set of music for an audience that attended specifically for those concerts.

Although the fairgrounds technically had a wood-frame band stand, it was small and not well suited for performances.

A Better Band Stand

In the early 1900s, there was an effort to develop the fairgrounds into a music venue. But other improvements took priority until after the fairgrounds came under the control of Marathon County in 1921. The old frame band stand was replaced in 1923 with a new concrete-base structure.

On September 3, 1923, the first performance was given at the new band stand for the celebration of Labor Day. Musicians of Wausau’s 128th Infantry Band reported that it was “found very capacious, but has a somewhat troublesome echo."

Still, the location was a big hit with audiences, who have flocked to Marathon Park for summer concerts for nearly a century. In 1926, an estimated 3,500 to 4,000 concert-goers packed the park to hear a single concert by the 128th Infantry Band. Although some benches and picnic tables were placed around the band stand for audiences, most people brought their own seating. Until curbing was installed to limit parking, many concert-goers even drove their cars right up to the bandstand and remained inside with windows rolled down, honking their horns in applause after each song.

After the Storm

In June 1999, a severe windstorm caused a number of trees to fall on Marathon Park’s band stand.

“Half the band shelter at Marathon Park remained intact Monday. Chairs rested neatly against the rail and most picnic tables survived the storm undisturbed. The other half was a mass of splintered and caved-in wood in a place that has provided weekly concerts for as long as [Duane] Corbin [of the Wausau Park Department] can remember.” -Amber Paluch, “Storm uproots, topples history in city parks” Wausau Daily Herald (8 June 1999).

The band shell was rebuilt, including some modernization to the historic structure such as a wheelchair ramp. It continues to be home to events of all sorts, and to this day it remains the venue for Wausau Concert Band performances each summer.

Marathon Park, Wausau, WI

The Band Stand

Cookie image

We use cookies on this website. You are free to manage these via your browser settings at any time. For more information about how we use cookies, please see our Privacy Policy.