NewsLocal NewsIn Your NeighborhoodDoor County


Dancing to their own music: How a group of women from Door County helped form the Peninsula music Festival

Posted at 5:33 PM, Mar 27, 2024
and last updated 2024-03-28 19:03:59-04

DOOR COUNTY (NBC 26) — This year marks 72 years of the Peninsula Music Festival and due to a special group of women... it's still thriving today.

  • Video shows history of Peninsula Music Festival
  • A group of women formed the Peninsula music Festival Sustaining Committee and played a big role in the events success
  • This is the 72nd year of the Peninsula music Festival

(The following is a transcription of the full broadcast story)

Three weeks of the summer, three nights a week Door County has an orchestra that amazes.

"Just to stand up and sing the star-spangled banner with a magnificent orchestra like that is so thrilling," said Morse Brown.

Challoner Morse Brown has been a Peninsula Music Festival volunteer for decades.

She remembers the women, some no longer around, at the heart of it.

"Just the fact that this festival exists is due to the ladies. It would never have ever gotten off. I mean, they did everything," said Morse Brown.

Kay Wilson, Petie Wilson, Alice spooner, Marcia Larsen, and Louise Straubel; some of the founding women of the festival sustaining committee.

"They would literally plan who was passing out whatever flyers who was meeting with what businessperson to ask for volunteers for donations. Who was in charge of selling tickets. They literally did everything," said Morse Brown.

The festival began in 1953 at the Gibraltar School gymnasium.

The founders helped raise ten thousand dollars that first year.

Morse Brown says throughout the years, one couple, Lawrence and Ella Mae Heise, were major financial donors.

"You can listen to public radio and when they play this music and it's so beautiful, but it's a whole different experience to be sitting in hearing it live," said Mckeefry.

Bruce Mckeefry, the first male and now former board president says these women knew what they wanted to do and did it.

"The women that ran this organization were really strong. Really strong. And I really admired them," said Mckeefry.

In 1991, the festival moved to the Door Community Auditorium, now offering the orchestra and a collection of soloists.

"The scores themselves, the soloists, the musicians, but the ladies did everything else otherwise there would not be a music festival," said Morse Brown.

The Peninsula Music Festival started as a chamber orchestra and now is a full symphony orchestra, gracing this stage at the Door Community Auditorium.

The Peninsula Music Festival teamwants to thank the community for their support as they go through a transition period with staffing right now.