Cemetery Walk

OCONTO – Tickets for the 13th Annual Oconto County Historical Society sponsored cemetery walk “If Tombstones Could Talk” will go on sale Wednesday, August 2nd, at the Beyer Home and Carriage House Museum, 915 Park Avenue.

The Cemetery Walk will be held at 6:00 p.m. on the evenings of September 11, 12, and 13, with the September 11th and 12th performances to be held outside at the Evergreen Cemetery, located at 325 Cook Avenue, Oconto.  The September 13 performance will be presented indoors at the John B. LeMay Auditorium at the Oconto High School, 1717 Superior Avenue, Oconto.

Six historic personages will be portrayed, and their life stories will come alive.  Some of the individuals portrayed are well-known in Oconto County history; others are lesser known, and those attending will learn about various facets of their lives.

Tour-goers will be led in groups through the cemetery by guides for the outdoor walks.  Those attending the outdoor performances are urged to wear comfortable shoes as the tour requires an amount of walking, sometimes on uneven ground.  You may also wish to bring a flashlight and insect repellent.  The indoor performance is for people who may have difficulty walking in the cemetery; however, the indoor performance is open to everyone.

Tickets are $12 per person and will be sold at the Beyer Home and Carriage House Museum through September 3rd.  Please note that the Museum is closed on Tuesdays.  If any tickets remain unsold after September 3rd, they will be available for sale at Roberts Hometown Hardware, 919 Main Street, Oconto.  In addition, the remaining unsold tickets will be available for sale just prior to each evening’s performance.

There are a limited number of tickets for the performances and tickets sell out fast.  Complimentary refreshments will be served to tour-goers at the cemetery on the evenings of September 11 and 12 and in the cafeteria of the Oconto High School following the performance on September 13.  In the event of inclement weather on September 11 or 12, the performances will be moved indoors to the Oconto High School Auditorium.

For more information contact Lynn Exferd at (920) 835-4619 or email

Harvest Fest 2023

Oconto’s downtown will spring to life for Harvest Fest, the city’s annual autumn celebration taking place on Saturday, September 23, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

On the long-anticipated day of Harvest Fest every year, Oconto closes Main Street to vehicles but opens the street to vendors and foot traffic. Harvest Fest, sponsored by the Oconto Area Chamber of Commerce, features a variety of arts and crafts, seasonal produce, and other merchandise. The Main Street shops host sidewalk sales and Harvest Fest specials. Plus, Harvest Fest offers fun kids’ activities, food, refreshments, and live music.

Put on your flannel, pack up the kids, and head to Harvest Fest in downtown Oconto on Sept. 23. You’ll surely find bright pumpkins for carving, hearty vegetables for simmering, and fun for all ages. Harvest Fest is located on Main Street from Huron Avenue to Millidge Avenue in Oconto’s city center.

Everyone is welcome! No admission fees are charged.

Networking on the Greens

It’s time to get your golf clubs ready! The Oconto and Peshtigo Area Chamber of Commerce’s Annual Golf Outing will be held on Monday, July 17, at the Patriot Golf Course.

We invite you to participate in this event and support the local businesses in our community. Whether it’s as a hole sponsor or by participating in the bucket raffle, we need your help to make this event a success.

  • Hole sponsor $150 (Mail to Oconto Area Chamber of Commerce, PO Box 174, Oconto, WI 54153)
  • Bucket raffle prize
  • Goodie bag item (70 items)
  • Bring non-perishable food item(s) for extra bucket raffle tickets.  Items will be donated to Bread by the Bay Food Pantry in Oconto.

We look forward to seeing you all in July. Please contact Matt Heling if you have any questions or want to be involved in this event. or 715-853-3165

AARP: Oconto Marsh signage project wins AARP Wisconsin grant

OCONTO, WI – A proposal to provide interpretive signage at various points along the trail that winds through the Oconto Marsh has been selected to receive an AARP Wisconsin “Small Dollar, Big Impact” grant.

The $1,000 grant will enable the Oconto County Economic Development Corporation to purchase materials and supplies needed to launch the project, such as sign posts, signs, informational brochures, and related items. Up to 20 signs will provide visitors with information about the local plants and wildlife they will see from the walkways, bridges and viewing platforms along the mile-long trail in the 928-acre marsh.

Funds could also be used to hire professional help to design and install the signage and further publicize the project so that more people can be made aware of the importance of the Oconto Marsh and its significance to our area, said Samantha Boucher, tourism director for the corporation.

“We are beyond excited for this project to lift off and want to thank AARP for making it happen,” Boucher said. “Our goal is to enhance the Oconto Marsh and provide interpretive signage along the trails to help people gain a greater appreciation for nature and the wildlife they may encounter.”

AARP Wisconsin is awarding grants each month throughout 2023 to projects across the state that are designed to improve communities and make them better places for everyone to live, work and play as they age. Judges selected this project after reviewing dozens of proposals submitted from all over the state.

“We love it when communities apply what they learned from AARP resources in developing their projects,” said Darrin Wasniewski, Associate State Director of Community Outreach for AARP Wisconsin. “We look forward to seeing how insights garnered through AARP’s Parks and Public Spaces Collection result in implementations to enhance Oconto Marsh for all ages, especially its 50-plus visitors.”

The Oconto County Economic Development Corporation is a non-profit organization that was created to address economic development and tourism promotion in Oconto County. Currently, its funding is made possible through the proactive efforts of the Oconto County Board.

Boucher said planning of the marsh signage involved extensive community input. A group of volunteers representing various stakeholders was formed to coordinate the project and gather comments from the public, collaborate with local artists, and consult with experts to create interpretive displays that accurately represented the history and ecology of the marsh.

“The interpretive signage was designed to be accessible and engaging to all ages, with various ways to explore the marsh and connect with the natural history of the area,” she said.

The signage will include information about the importance of the marsh to wildlife, the flora and fauna found in the area, and how humans have impacted the marsh over time. It will also include interactive elements such as a map, audio recordings, and a self-guided tour, allowing visitors to learn more about the marsh in an engaging way.

The signage will provide an opportunity to engage in outdoor activities such as bird watching, nature photography, and nature walks. “It will also help to promote a sense of pride and ownership in the local environment, which can be beneficial for the health and well-being of the 50-plus community,” Boucher said.

Initial plans are to install 15 to 20 signs throughout the marsh by the end of June, but more funding is needed to complete the project. Anyone interested in donating funds to the project may call 920-834-6969 or email Boucher directly at

AARP Wisconsin’s launched its “Small Dollar, Big Impact” grant program in 2020 and is now in its fourth year of helping proposed projects move forward in rural and urban parts of the state.

“These grants are exactly what the name describes – short-term, low-cost solutions that could have a remarkable impact on the shaping of local communities,” Wasniewski said. “This project hits the nail right on the head.

The Small Dollar, Big Impact grant program is open to some nonprofits and government entities. For more information on the program, visit

Miss Copperfest 2023

Myah Mlnarik was crowned Miss Copperfest 2023, following a weekend of festive events and activities in the small town of Oconto. Myah, a proud resident of the community, shone both on stage and off during Copperfest 2023. As Miss Copperfest, she will be making appearances at Chamber events throughout the year and will represent the people, values, and spirit of the area in her roles. Those wishing to invite Miss Copperfest to their events this year are encouraged to contact the Oconto Area Chamber of Commerce.

Miss Copperfest Scholarship

Applying for a Miss Copperfest Scholarship with the Oconto Area Chamber of Commerce is a great opportunity for an ambitious young woman looking to make a positive difference in the community. The scholarship is open to women ages 16-21 who have demonstrated leadership, academic excellence, and community service.

Applications are due by Wednesday, May 18, 2023,and the recipients will receive a one-time scholarship to support college tuition. The scholarship is a great way to start a successful future and make a lasting impact in the Oconto Area.

  • Miss Copperfest 2023, $1,000 Scholarship
  • 1st Runner-Up, $500 Scholarship
  • 2nd Runner Up, $250 Scholarship


  • Be female between the ages of 16-21
  • Be available for an oral interview. The Committee will work with you on a date/time.
  • Be visible to participate in the 2023 Copperfest activities on June 9-11, 2023.
  • Attend the Coronation Ceremony on Friday, June 9, 2023, at 8:00 a.m. and Copperfest Parade on Saturday, June 10, 2023, at 10:00 a.m.


  • Resume including name, address, telephone number, age, birth date, education, grade point average, work experience, special interests, accomplishments, future plans.
  • Submit two current photos of yourself
  • Answer the following essay question: What does it mean to be a good student on the field, in the classroom, and in the community?
  • Submit one letter of reference from either a teacher, coach, or business owner.
  • The three finalists will be invited to participate in an in-person interview with the judges, during which they will be asked to answer additional questions.
  • Mail the complete packet to: Copperfest Queen Committee, PO Box 174, Oconto, WI 54153, or email

Deadline: Wednesday, May 18, 2023

Oconto Area Chamber of Commerce logo

Dedication of the Evergreen Cemetery Potter’s Field Memorial

Hundreds of long-forgotten individuals buried in an Oconto cemetery will be remembered in a special way on Memorial Day weekend. Among those to be memorialized are a cigar maker born in Russia, a prize fighter, a survivor of the Peshtigo Fire, a hired man, the wife of a man who died in the 1937 Polish uprising, and 2 sisters, daughters of a migrant family that lived and worked seasonally in the Oconto community for over 40 years.  All of these individuals and nearly 300 more will soon be getting the long overdue respect they deserve, thanks to the Oconto County Historical Society.

A monument honoring them will be dedicated on Memorial Day weekend at Evergreen Cemetery in Oconto. The Dedication of the Evergreen Cemetery Potter’s Field Memorial will take place at 10 a.m. Saturday, May 27, at the cemetery, 325 Cook Ave., Oconto. The term “Potter’s Field” refers to the burial sites for individuals who had no family or whose families did not have money to pay for a burial plot. Current records indicate that about 300 people were buried in the Potter’s Field areas of Evergreen Cemetery, beginning in the 1850s and continuing into the 1900s.  Very few of their names were engraved on markers, but most of the names have been recorded in the cemetery’s record books.

One individual buried in the Potter’s Field is a distant relative of Peter Gabrielson. Peter serves on the board of the Oconto County Historical Society and Evergreen Cemetery. He stumbled upon records of Potter’s Field burials while searching for the burial site of his grandfather’s sister. She died as an infant shortly after the family arrived in America in 1893. In 2017, Peter started recording the names of the deceased buried in Potter’s Field and researching their lives using genealogical websites and digitized newspapers to find information about the deceased. As a result, he published the Oconto Evergreen Cemetery Potter’s Field Research Project.

“It’s been a project that’s been so fascinating for me,” he said. Over hundreds of hours, Peter tracked down the names and tidbits of information about the individuals buried in the unmarked graves. The plaza is a lasting tribute of respect for the individuals buried in the Potter’s Field.

The plaza, located on the south side of the cemetery, features a granite boulder with a bronze plaque, which reads in part, “This monument is dedicated to ensure that the final resting place of these departed souls will remain forever consecrated and their names will be forever remembered.” The plaza also features 36 granite paver stones engraved with the names and interment dates of 287 individuals buried at the cemetery in unmarked graves. In addition, two marker stones have been placed on the north edge of the cemetery which identify that section as another Potter’s Field burial area.

The May 27 dedication ceremony is sponsored by the Oconto County Historical Society. The ceremony will not only recognize the deceased but also the living who contributed their time and resources. The Leon H. and Clymene M. Bond Foundation is a major supporter, providing a $20,525 grant. Other contributors include Brian Vandenlangenberg of Oconto City Monument Company; Scott and Brandon Tousey of Scott’s Concrete; Jeremy Wusterbarth and the City of Oconto Department of Public Works; Greg and Lilly Mortier, Creative Curbing & Design; Carl Liegeois, Carlie’s Landscaping; Laurie Wusterbarth, Oconto County Register of Deeds; the Oconto County Genealogical Society, especially Kitty Werner and Vern Mortier; and Peter’s wife Patty, whose support from the beginning never wavered.

Peter encourages individuals to attend the dedication to honor the people who made the memorial possible, to honor the deceased, and to acknowledge the empathy, compassion, and fair treatment that all people are entitled to.

“The time has come for us to give these individuals the recognition and respect that they deserve; in fact, have deserved for a long time,” he said.

For more information, visit or Find us on Facebook.

About Historical Society

The Oconto County Historical Society is a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving Oconto County’s history. Offering education, programming, lectures, historic city tours, museum exhibitions, and other special events, this organization strives to be a preeminent resource for exploring and instilling an appreciation of Oconto County’s diverse history. Learn more at

Career Exploration: Oconto Introduces Kids to Welding

Oconto Middle School students will have a chance to explore new career opportunities as they try their hand at welding. The school district purchased a MobileArc Augmented Reality Welding System and Prusa i3 3D printers as part of a $20,000 technology makeover made possible through Leap for Learning. Leap for Learning is a new technology makeover program offered by the Green Bay Packers and UScellular and partially funded by a grant from the NFL Foundation.

Emily Miller, Superintendent of the Oconto Unified School District, said virtual welders will give students the opportunity to try welding without its inherent dangers.

“The goal is to provide different STEAM ((Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) opportunities and allow the students to follow up with welding and metal fabrication at the high school level,” she said. The high school offers college credit courses in welding through Northeast Wisconsin Technical College.

Samantha Boucher, Oconto County Economic Development Corporation, said that a community that supports the welding trade opens up a world of economic development opportunities. When more people learn how to weld, local industries have a larger pool of skilled trade workers who contribute to their company’s success and the local economy, too.

“Exploring the welding trade can help young people gain valuable skills and knowledge that will serve them well as they join the workforce and contribute to the community’s economic growth,” she said.

By using the welding simulators, students can practice multiple welding processes in a realistic simulator that generates three-dimensional images of metal workpieces. Realistic arc sounds accompany the visuals, contributing to an immersive experience. Students are monitored, scored, and provided feedback regarding their welding technique. Initially, students in grades five through eight will use the welding system, although the system can easily be moved to the high school, also.

“Students will learn the basics of welding, choosing different types of welds, and practicing different welding techniques in a safe environment,” Emily said.

The virtual welding program is a clear example of how collaboration between the school district and local businesses helps strengthen the community. Chad Hendzel, an NWTC welding instructor and operations manager at Yakfab Metals Inc. in Oconto, said the metal fabrication industry needs more welders, and programs like this one introduce youth to this lucrative and versatile career path.  

“It’s nice to get the exposure at the middle school level so they can get into some welding classes in high school if that’s the path they’re interested in,” he said. “If a person has mechanical abilities and likes working with their hands, welding can be a fun job to have.”

Yakfab is a CNC machining, custom welding, and fabrication machine shop serving a wide variety of industries, including marine, fire protection, paper, food processing, and chemical processing.

“The type of (welding) work can be all over the board. You’re not just sitting in a booth and welding for 10 hours and go home,” he said. Welding careers pay well and provide numerous opportunities for advancement.

“Lots of careers can spawn out of a welding certificate,” Chad said.

Jim Eckes, fabrication manager at Nercon, said welders have a lot of different career opportunities in sectors like manufacturing, metal working, and metal art. Welding is an integral skill for employees of Nercon, which designs and manufactures conveyor systems and equipment for all types of consumer-packaged goods.

Jim said that one of welding’s rewards is the ability to create something with your hands and your skills.

“Even at its most basic form, you’re creating something,” Jim said. “You get to see the end product and how it fits into the other assembly.”

Introducing welding at the middle school will open doors to careers that students might not have considered and save them the time and money of pursuing a college degree or career that isn’t a good fit, Jim said. Plus, students have a safe environment to learn welding, without the heat and danger, even before entering high school.

“The earlier you can pique their interest, the better off you are,” Jim said. “They can hit the ground running and be more successful going into it.”

Experiencing welding at the middle school level also helps remove the stigma that manufacturing is a dirty, dingy jog, while it’s actually a challenging, complex and rewarding career, Jim said.

The welding system was installed in a STEAM lab at the middle school during the 2022-23 school year. The virtual welders provide students with real-world, interactive experiences in welding, plus fun opportunities to practice what they learn.

 Chamber Bucks for Businesses

What are Chamber Bucks? Chamber Bucks are gift certificates to businesses belonging to the Oconto Area Chamber of Commerce. Each business that chooses to participate accepts the Chamber Bucks as cash, then turns them in to the Chamber, who then reimburses the business. Buying and accepting Chamber Bucks are great ways to help money stay right here in our community, as they can only be used at Chamber Member businesses!

Why Use Chamber Bucks? Why buy a generic gift card when you can buy Chamber Bucks and support local businesses? Here at the Chamber, we want to encourage people to shop locally, and we want to promote the many exceptional businesses who support our efforts through their membership. By supporting the Chamber Bucks program, you can spend exactly what you want and keep your investment local! You can feel good about supporting your community while giving the people you care about precisely what they’re looking for.

Gifts and Rewards! Chamber Bucks are the perfect way to gift and reward throughout the entire year. Reward your employees for their hard work or send a gift to a loved one. Chamber Bucks offers the flexibility to the recipient to choose how they want to use their Bucks, all while supporting our local businesses and community.

  • Chamber Bucks are available for purchase at Stephenson National Bank & Trust, 101 Bralick Way, Oconto. Please email or call ahead to place an order so we can arrange them for pickup. Contact: Jenni Dolata, or 715-735-2313.
  • Chamber Bucks are valid for 5 years from the date of issue, which is the day purchased from the Chamber. This date will be listed on the Chamber Bucks. DO NOT ACCEPT any Chamber Bucks beyond that date.
  • Chamber Bucks are not redeemable for cash and must be used at their full value, as no cashback will be given.
  • To redeem your Chamber Bucks as a business. Please write your business name and address on the Chamber Bucks and mail it to Oconto Area Chamber of Commerce, PO BOX 174, Oconto, WI 54153. The Chamber will issue you a reimbursement check.

Don’t hesitate to contact us at the Chamber if you have any questions.

We hope the Chamber Bucks program will continue to benefit you greatly, and we appreciate your support!