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RACINE — Absolutely nothing keeps Blank-Fest Wisconsin down. The weekend music benefit for area homeless assistance organizations returns for its 16th edition Friday-Sunday, Dec. 9-11 at McAuliffe’s Pub, 3700 Meachem Road.

“It’s really become a tradition and we’re grateful for the community’s support all these years,” says J.J. McAuliffe, the pub’s owner who founded the event with Ron Purtee.

Blank-Fest Wisconsin takes its name from the donations that serve as the admission fee for each show. Attendees are asked to bring a new or gently-used blanket. Donations of socks, warm clothing and hygiene items (soap, shampoo, toothpaste, feminine hygiene) are also welcomed. Those who don’t bring items are asked to pay a $10 cover charge.

A mountain of donated blankets, clothing and personal hygiene items at a previous Blank-Fest Wisconsin. – Credit: Blank-Fest Wisconsin
Those attending Blank-Fest Wisconsin are asked to bring a new or gently used blanket or make a $10 donation. – Credit: Blank-Fest Wisconsin

“We move the pool table next to the wall and put down a piece of plywood. It just becomes a mountain. There are blankets, socks, gloves, caps, mittens, you name it!”

J.J. McAuliffe

At Blank-Fest’s conclusion, the partner organizations – including the Homeless Assistance Leadership Organization (HALO) Inc., HOPES Center of Racine, Women’s Resource Center, and Hospitality Center – are invited to pick up what they need from among the donated items. Cash donations are also distributed throughout the year.

“Everything we take in gets used and fills a need,” says McAuliffe.

Like the organizations and people it serves, Blank-Fest has survived a lot. When the COVID-19 global pandemic forced the cancellation of public gatherings in early 2020, the event switched to an online format. Musicians performed online and monetary donations were accepted via online. Blank-Fest Wisconsin returned to a live format in late 2021.

Blank-Fest 2022 lineup

McAuliffe describes this year’s music lineup as “really eclectic.” The Friday and Saturday shows start at 8 p.m. The Sunday show is at 2 p.m.

Friday night

Friday’s bands are: Ballenos, Radiation and The Rock-A-Dials.

Ballenos includes former members of Whiskey of the Damned, an alt-rock group. McAuliffe says music fans can also expect to hear bits of Celtic, folk, rock and punk from Friday night’s lineup.

Saturday night

Saturday’s bands are: Higgins, Grislier and Hey Muchacho.

“All three are fairly newer local bands,” says McAuliffe. “It will be more youth-oriented. It’s the aggressive, punkier side of things.”

Sunday afternoon

Sunday’s 2 p.m. show will be an acoustic afternoon with musician Ian Gould, a native of Belfast, Northern Ireland who now calls Waukesha home. He appears at venues throughout Southern Wisconsin and Northern Illinois.

For more about Blank-Fest Wisconsin, visit the event’s Facebook page.


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Paul Holley is retired from careers in journalism, public relations and marketing but not from life. These days, he pretty much writes about what he feels like writing. You may contact him directly at:...