Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation: Local businesses, nonprofits focus of statewide ’12 Days’ holiday event

MADISON, WI. Nov. 29, 2017 – Five communities throughout the state are sharing the spirit of the season by hosting local “12 Days” holiday events from today through Dec. 10.

During those 12 days, visitors to the downtown districts in Pewaukee, Rice Lake, Darlington, Ashland and Milwaukee will be able to take advantage of special events, business sweepstakes and charitable activities, all with a family-friendly theme.

The event was conceived of in 2016 by Positively Pewaukee, the Wisconsin Main Street organization for downtown Pewaukee. The district is well-known for its summer event season and beachfront shops and restaurants, but was looking for a way to thank residents and create a sense of community for the holidays.

In the first year, the Pewaukee promotion attracted 36 participating businesses and featured 12 nonprofit partners, and attracted more visitors and social media followers than any previous event. That success prompted other downtown organizations to develop their own “12 Days” events.

“A vibrant downtown is truly the heart of the community, and that is particularly evident during the holidays,” said Errin Welty, downtown development manager for the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC), which oversees the Wisconsin Main Street and Connect Communities programs which support historic business districts statewide. “This unique event will provide a boost to local businesses while at the same time supporting local nonprofit organizations in this key time of the year.”

The five downtowns are all participants in either the Main Street Program or the Connect Communities Program.

Participating communities have each developed a 12-day calendar that features a daily family-friendly event or activity, a featured charitable partner and local business showcase, and other information about that downtown’s seasonal events and décor. In many cases, visitors will also have a chance to win prizes from the featured business of the day, participate in various holiday crafts, or perform a random act of kindness drawn from jars located around town.

During the “12 Days” event, the five communities will feature a total of 78 local businesses and 60 non-profit partners, with 89 special events and 68 chances to win prizes as part of holiday giveaways.

The “12 Days” event builds upon a successful Small Business Saturday on Nov. 25 that saw more than 40 Wisconsin Main Street and Connect Communities business districts welcome shoppers with holiday events and retail specials.

The Wisconsin Main Street Program is a comprehensive revitalization program designed to promote the historic and economic redevelopment of traditional business districts in Wisconsin. After a thorough application and review process, WEDC selects communities to join the program, which is part of a nationwide program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. These communities receive technical support and training needed to ensure that their downtown districts continue to thrive as centers of community activity and commerce

For more information about the local “12 Days” events, visit the websites and Facebook pages of participating communities:

Ashland: www.visitashland.com/events/12-days-of-christmas

Darlington: https://www.facebook.com/Darlington-Chamber-Main-Street-105624786169777

Milwaukee: Facebook.com/MilwaukeeDowntown

Pewaukee: http://positivelypewaukee.com/12days

Rice Lake: Facebook.com/events/347478209011594