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World's Largest Brat Fest announces alternative to in-person festival for 2021
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COVID-19 | ALTERNATIVE TO IN-PERSON FESTIVAL

World's Largest Brat Fest announces alternative to in-person festival for 2021

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The World’s Largest Brat Fest will not make its traditional appearance Memorial Day weekend for the second year in a row due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but a “new and exciting alternative” is set to kick off summer 2021, organizers said.

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Brat Fest is teaming up with Johnsonville to still bring some of the festivities to Madison with Build Your Own Brat Fest, said event organizer Tim Metcalfe. Johnsonville brats will be given to participating sports bars and restaurants across Dane County, and 100% of the Memorial Day weekend brat sales will benefit local nonprofits.

With more than 4,500 volunteers, thousands of musicians and more than 150,000 people attending the three-day event under normal circumstances, Metcalfe said it was “best” to cancel this year’s in-person event, but he hopes supporters of the festival will try to help out local businesses and charities by dining at any of the participating sports bars and restaurants Memorial Day weekend to raise funds, while also celebrating in a safer way.

“When we canceled the 2020 festival, we hoped that pandemic conditions would have improved enough for us to host an event in 2021,” Metcalfe said. “However, while we are heading in the right direction having a vaccine available, it is still not time for large, public gatherings. Preserving the health and safety of all is of our paramount concern.”

Bars or restaurants interested in participating in the alternative festival should email Jeff Shroeter at jeff.s@bratfest.com.


Shining stars: Meet the Madison area's Top Workplaces

Make no mistake about it: The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have left painful scars. But this year’s Top Workplaces project shows that many employees across the Madison region remain resiliently upbeat and are clinging to their workplace cultures, even from a distance.

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Celebrate the best of Madison’s local employers and hear top executives explain how they create and maintain their cultures of growth.

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This year’s winners run the gamut from dentistry to financial institutions and engineering to software developers and many more.

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Survey feedback from employees is the sole basis for determining Top Workplaces. And that feedback serves as the ultimate test of how employers are responding in the age of COVID.

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This year’s top-ranked large organization, with about 590 Madison-area employees, UW Credit Union has made diversity a priority during the past few years. 

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Exact Sciences, which rose from a small operation to a growing force in cancer diagnostics, thrives on a workplace culture fueled by innovation, teamwork and a common enemy.

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Teamwork, problem-solving and helping agents find success — however they measure it — drive the workplace culture at First Weber Realtors.

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Everyone wants their pre-pandemic lives back, but the crisis revealed the value of Summit Credit Union’s strong culture.

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The ability of Kwik Trip employees to manage change was important to the convenience store chain’s success during the past year, as it expanded, rolled out new product offerings and dealt with COVID-19.

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Here are the other top-ranked large firms in Top Workplaces 2021, rounding out a diverse mix of some of the area’s bigger employers and featuring a range of benefits that employees are able to tap into.

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The Madison-based firm, which develops mass notification software to alert employees at schools, government office and businesses to emergency situations, strives to understand what drives high job satisfaction among its employees.

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WPPI Energy president and CEO Mike Peters says communication is vital to the success of the Sun Prairie-based, member-owned operation that serves 51 local electric utilities with wholesale electric power supply, utility technologies and services.

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Employees at Madison-based Ascendium Education Group have adopted the values and mission of the organization and appreciate the training that keeps them on the cutting edge.

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Fairway Independent Mortgage Corporation values humility and customer service in a culture that has buy-in from CEO Steve Jacobson to the newe…

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The disruption and chaos inflicted by the COVID-19 pandemic tested the stability of First Choice Dental’s workplace culture.

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The Top Workplaces winners among midsize companies reflect innovative styles to building corporate cultures that their employees embrace. Here’s a look at the other winners in the mid-size category:

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When the pandemic arrived, Horizon Develop Build Manage president and CEO Dan Fitzgerald was certain of one thing: His employee culture, built purposefully and over time, would carry the company through all of the disruption.

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When Jack Koziol started InfoSec Institute in Madison in 2004, he felt that workplace culture was nothing more than a corporate buzzword. Seventeen years later, he knows better.

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In the past chaos-packed year, revenues dipped for the downtown advertising, design and digital agency — a result of the economic mess created by the pandemic — and the agency had its first layoffs in 20 years, while its staff was scattered to complete work remotely.

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Being successful in providing customers with information technology solutions and services starts with a family-centered culture based on fun, gratitude and expertise at AE Business Solutions.

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The Sun Prairie-based company, which specializes in servicing and supplying components for heavy-duty, off-highway equipment through 10 service centers in the U.S. and Canada, strives for transparency.

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Although winners in the small-company category reflect a variety of missions, they share a common characteristic: They have built strong workplaces that provide stand-out benefits and flexibility. Here are the other winners in the small-company category:

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Among this year’s Top Workplaces, employees singled out several companies for their extraordinary efforts in important phases of workplace life, ranging from leadership to transparency.

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Businesses that suddenly found themselves in the midst of a pandemic that shattered conventional ways of working quickly discovered that a strong workplace culture was vital to surviving and thriving during the crisis.

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We have no idea what the extent of these changes will be or whether this whole notion of “normal” will ever find itself back into our lives.

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Jim Nussle, president and CEO of the Credit Union National Association, spoke about what makes CUNA’s culture special.

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Kathy Marsh, co-founder and vice chair of Musicnotes, shares her thoughts on the workplace culture at the Madison-based digital sheet music retailer.

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Larry Barton, chief executive officer of Strang, talks about creating a strong culture at the Madison-based firm. 

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To become a Top Workplace, organizations instill in their team members a variety of values and approaches that keep their businesses thriving in the marketplace, their employees engaged and their communities strong.

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Related to this story

“The only home World Dairy Expo has known is Dane County, Wisconsin, and we are ready to welcome the dairy industry’s premier event back to our community this fall,” Dane County Executive Joe Parisi said.

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