Caroline welcomes large crowds for annual Colorama

Event began as a trail ride; horses remain an event highlight
Kevin Passon

The population of Caroline in Grant County ballooned once again last weekend as the local Lions Club held their 35th annual Colorama.

With more than 1,000 individual campsites set out across seven areas, the community of fewer than 400 welcomes upwards of 3,000 visitors to their community for the annual four-day celebration.

Music this year was highlighted by country music star Tracy Byrd on Sept. 29.

“Our first years were down by the Caroline Ballroom,” said Wayne Schwartz, former club secretary and now coordinator of outside vendors at the event. “As years went by, we slowly outgrew that. Unfortunately, the ballroom burnt down … and then we started out with a small tent.”

The event has grown from there. A building was built by the Lions Club, and then tents were rented for the Colorama.

Trail rides and wagon rides are the order of the day for most who attend.

“There’s a group of individuals, some of the founding members of the Lions Club, they were very active horse people,” Schwartz said. “They decided to have a horse trail ride … and it slowly grew from there.”

Held from Sept. 28 through Oct. 1, the 2023 event included vendors, food, music and dance, horse rides, wagon rides, a bean bag tournament, a parade, breakfast, raffles and an auction.

“We have an auction after the parade; all the proceeds go to Lions Camp over in Rosholt,” Schwartz said.

Auction items are donated by the community, members and vendors.

Proceeds from the overall event are used for local, regional and international purposes.

“We make donations to the Wisconsin Lions Camp in Rosholt, Lions International Foundation, Leader Dog,” Schwartz said. “We give back locally, individuals in need, like the Clintonville ambulance service, Marion Fire Department, Town of Grant Fire Department, Pella Fire Department, Pella EMS, Grant EMS.”

Tori Boyea, Miss Rodeo Wisconsin 2024, attended even though her official duties don’t begin until Jan. 1.

Among those with her was Patti Schaetz of Fremont.

“I’ve been coming here for about 15 years,” Schaetz said. “I love the variety, the bands, the music, the colors, the people.”

Membership in the Caroline Lions Club is about 45, but Schwartz said so many more help at the event.

“Everybody shows up for it. We are very appreciative of the community. It is a community event,” he said. “If it was up to the Lions Club to put on this by itself, it would never happen. It’s truly a community event. The whole community comes to together, helps us out and puts this on.”

Plans are already underway for the 36th annual event, which will be held the first full weekend of October 2024.