Driftless Music Gardens

By Nolan Arentz –

A place where your phone will tell you takes half the amount of time that you actually spend getting there, or maybe it was just getting back at me for dropping it all the time. Anyways, that is where you will find the venue for this little piece of the driftless in Hillsboro, WI, “The Driftless Music Gardens”. After a nice scenic drive to remind me that there are long curvy gravely roads still being used today, and that my car was not made for that kind of activity, I was greeted with what I imagine a drive-in social-distancing concert would look like in Heaven or at least a peaceful Narnia. I proceeded up to the entrance and received a program along with the now standard gift of high-quality hand sanitizer. Next was the most challenging part: parking in front of people. Make sure to brush up on this part of your driving repertoire before heading to the gardens. I am not used to tailgate parking and especially when people tell me what to do with a mask on. However, all you need to do is just trust your instincts and you should be able to persevere, just like I was somehow able to manage. Finally, after a very driftless sort of drive to the gardens and a mini driver’s ed pop quiz to keep me on my toes, the concert was finally about to start. 

The event is about social distancing but that does not mean you can’t dance, even before the event actually starts, which was odd in a very relaxing and soothing sort of way. That is what most patrons were doing for the whole time I was there. It is what I would imagine a mini Wisconsin Woodstock vibe is, if I had any idea what a Woodstock vibe is to begin with. People were dancing, grilling delicious food, drinking drinks, and some random group practicing frisbee golf with a portable frisbee golf hole? Do not get me wrong, it was cool but surprising. Needless to say, the mood for the band to come on stage couldn’t have been any better. The stage they took was in a superb location looking over the hill full of cars and people with the sun a little to their upper left-hand corner. The band I saw was “Armchair Boogie”, a band that got its start in Wisconsin. And did someone say banjo? Because boy howdy was there a banjo that got shredded. It’s the type of band you expect to see in the middle of the Driftless playing to a whole bunch of lighthearted dancing driftless people after a fortnight or two of being quarantined. The set lasted about two hours that flew by in the somewhat surprising beautiful Wisconsin summer weather. The bugs were not even bad, they were probably still quarantined. I’ll see myself out.

Nevertheless, the groovy music, dancing people, driftless setting all come together to help one forget about what is going on at the moment and helps one to just enjoy some normalcy for a little bit. Make sure to bring enough drinks as it is BYOB, and a mask. I decided to test the workers to see how strict their mask policy was, and they passed. No, I did not just forget to wear my mask, I was indeed testing the security, stop asking. The workers were all kind and helpful and even the one guy who I don’t think worked there but that’s a story for a different kind of article. 

I highly recommend checking out their website driftlessmusicgardens.com and seeing if you can make one of their remaining events this year and if not this year, you have no excuse to not go to one next year. It’s a fantastic activity to get out of the house and politely socially distance dance with friendly strangers.