Live events return to Kenosha, pandemic restrictions relax

The end to a host of pandemic-related restrictions had Kenosha County bursting out all over in 2022, with festivals, events and the phasing out of rules including mask requirements.

In July, hordes of AMC vehicles descended upon the City of Kenosha for the 2022 Kenosha Homecoming Car Show. From Tuesday through Saturday, events were held for fans of every make and model of AMC vehicles, which included an Evening Car Cruise-in at Ruffolo’s Special Pizza, a Gremlin Event at Jeffrey Elementary, a Homecoming Car Show Swap Meet at Kennedy Park, the Homecoming Car Show Parade and the 2022 Kenosha Homecoming Car Show and Swap Meet.

During the same week, the annual Taste of Wisconsin Festival returned to Kenosha’s lakefront for the first time since 2019. The three-day festival featured a variety of cuisines from several vendors, along with music on four stages. It also marked the final year for the event, as organizers said they will not have the manpower to continue it in the future.

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Through July and August, several annual church festivals made a return to the city for the first time since 2019. Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Catholic Church, St. Mary Catholic Church and St. Peter Catholic Church held church festivals again this summer, joining Holy Rosary and St. Therese.

Dozens of other annual summer events were held, including the Kenosha County Fair, the Bristol Renaissance Fair and the city’s Fourth of July weekend celebration, making for a busy summer. Many festivals and events were held for the first time in several years, with many having been delayed from marking anniversaries the past two years due to the pandemic. High school reunions surged locally throughout 2022 as classes got together for the first time, including many which had delayed their milestone reunion gatherings until they could safely get together.

As more and more events filled the community calendar, 2022 turned once again into a city of music, with outdoor performers, concerts, and venues fully busy over the summer for the first time in three years.

Kenosha continued to see a host of activities in the fall, including new events including the inaugural Rustic Road Lakeside Brew Fest. Some 2021 events, — the Jockey Flannel Fest, Kemper Center Haunted House, Christmas at Kemper (featuring the historic Durkee Mansion and the Gallery of Trees) and Jerry Smith Farm Holiday Light Walk — returned in 2022 to make for an eventful fall and winter.

As festivals and in-person events returned to Kenosha County, pandemic restrictions continued to slip away.

The City of Kenosha’s mask ordinance expired in the spring of 2021, along with the mandatory requirements in the Kenosha Unified School District. The district continued with its mask-optional policy for the 2022-23 school year, which was announced in late July.

Following a school board meeting, KUSD announced it would continue to provide hand sanitizer, and clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces. There was no COVID-19 vaccine requirement for students and staff. The 2022-23 school year is the first full year without required masks in school since the start of pandemic remote learning in the spring of 2020.

Other Kenosha County school districts followed similar patterns as pandemic restrictions eased.

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