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Sputnikfest: the out-of-this-world celebration in Manitowoc

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Posted at 5:14 PM, Sep 08, 2023
  • A look into the celebrations that revolve around Sputnikfest.
  • One of the events co-founders weighs in on the origins of the festival and what makes it special
  • What importance does Sputnik IV and Sputnikfest have to Manitowoc

From the Soviet Union to outer space to Manitowoc, Sputnik IV had quite the journey. A piece of that spacecraft landed in Manitowoc in 1962 and now the town gathers once a year to celebrate Sputnikfest

A celebration that began in 2008 when a few members of the Rahr West Art Museum, including Elaine Schroeder, decided they wanted to put on an event for the historical artifact.

"We thought it would just be one year and that it would be a bust, no one would come, it was a stupid idea," Schroeder said. "We had over 3000 people."

So the event lived on.

"People come from all over to see it," Schroeder added.

Still held at the Rahr West Art Museum, one of the festival's biggest events is the costume contest surrounded by the theme of outer space and sci-fi. A contest that Elaine knows all about.

"It's just kind of fun to dress up and act like a kid again," Schroeder said.

The celebration, which will take place on Saturday, is one of Museum Director Greg Vadney's favorite days of the year.

"I use launchpad, I use blast. I can't help myself," Vadney said. "There's so many great space puns for Sputnikfest."

Vadney says the event is a great way to bring the city together while also honoring Manitowoc history.

"We take some degree of pride in the fact that this insane thing happened right on the streets of Manitowoc," Vadney said.

Sputnikfest will last from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. in downtown Manitowoc.