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Event Notes

× New First Night
with The Blue Canvas Orchestra, Warren Nelson, and special guest Mary Mack
Friday, June 16, 2023 • 7:30PM

$26/Half Price Youth

Blue Canvas Club pre-sale begins Wed, Apr 12, 2023 - 12:00pm CT
General Public sale begins Tue, Apr 18, 2023 - 12:00pm CT

Join us for Big Top Chautauqua’s traditional season kickoff - a grand celebration that features regional musicians, big screen visuals, and the Native American Blessing of the Tent. This grand reunion will mark the official opening of our 37th Summer Concert Season, and audiences will experience the heart and soul of Big Top - the Blue Canvas Orchestra . Ed Willet leads our famed house band - which has graced the Chautauqua stage since our founding in 1986 - as they perform fan-favorite songs and preview new original pieces. Their performances will feature an electric blend of string instruments, a driving rhythm section, and stunning voices that together will rock the tent with a unique fusion of Bluegrass, Folk, Jazz, and Blues.

The evening will also feature performances from Big Top founder Warren Nelson . Long admired for his songwriting, script works, and stage presence, the musician and entertainer has been performing since the late 1960’s. After forming the Lost Nation String Band alongside the late Don Pavel, Nelson moved to northern Wisconsin’s Bayfield Peninsula where he founded Lake Superior Big Top Chautauqua in 1986. For many years, Nelson served as the artistic director, resident writer, and ringmaster of the organization that has become famous for his prototype of unique performance pieces that combine history, storytelling, songwriting,and big screen visuals.

A hybrid of Minnesota and Wisconsin (with a severe cheese dependency), comedian Mary Mack is a favorite on radio shows and podcasts around the country including Milwaukee’s WKLH morning show with Dave and Doreen, Marc Maron’s WTF Podcast, and The Grand Ole Opry. Mary co-stars as Jesse in the Hulu cartoon Solar Opposites by the creators of Rick and Morty. She’s appeared in Montreal’s Just For Laughs Festival, HBO’s Andy Kaufman Awards, San Francisco’s Sketchfest, and the Dry Bar comedy series. Mack’s television credits include Comedy Central’s Live at Gotham, TBS’ Conan, Adult Swim’s Aqua Teen Hunger Force, Fox’s Golan the Insatiable, and NBC’s Last Comic Standing and Last Call with Carson Daly. When not touring, Mary spends way too much time and money working on her vintage camper in the woods of Northern Wisconsin.

Ticket Options

Lawn/Grounds Pass (Outside/Uncovered)

  • General admission access to grounds. Seating is not provided by the venue. BYO chair or blanket. Weather may impact sight lines. No access to tent seating.

Reserved Seating (Inside/Covered)

  • Includes seating provided by the venue inside the tent and covered by structure. Available seating options include 1st tier, 2nd tier, box seating, and table seating.

Ticketing Policies & Fees

*Plus applicable taxes and fees

  • 5.5% State and local sales tax
  • $3 Facility Fee per ticket (facility fee is used for tent, building, and grounds needs)
  • 2% Handling Fee per order, up to a maximum of $8
  • "All-In Gate Pricing" Purchases at the gate (totaled with taxes and fees) will be rounded up to the nearest dollar to expedite the line
  • No refunds or exchanges for any shows

Ticket holders and attendees are subject the following conditions:

  • Attendees grant unrestricted rights & licenses for use of their likeness in any form of public broadcast and production, and for promotional purposes.
  • Big Top Chautauqua reserves the right to refuse admission or evict anyone from the venue premises due to disorderly behavior without issuing a refund.
  • Big Top Chautauqua reserves the right to search all persons, packages, bags, and other items entering venue grounds and/or other properties owned by Lake Superior Big Top Chautauqua. The safety of our guests, volunteers, staff, and artists are top priority.
  • All venue policies and procedures are subject to change without notice.

Make an annual donation of $125 or more and receive exclusive access to ticket pre-sales, usually a week before the general public. Learn more about the Blue Canvas Club HERE

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