Today marks the start of the third week in July, and if you’re a water skier in Wisconsin, you know what that means: the annual Wisconsin State Water Ski Show Championships takes place this coming weekend in Wisconsin Rapids! This four-day event is deemed the world’s largest water ski show competition in the world, with over twenty-five teams who compete annually. While the weeks leading up to the tournament are both exhausting and stressful, the weekend itself is arguably the best of the year.
For those who are new to the world of water ski shows (or are avid fans), as well as for those looking to explore Central Wisconsin, I enthusiastically encourage you to consider taking a mini-vacation to Wisconsin Rapids for it’s most exciting week of the year! Not only will you witness more water ski stunts than you knew were even possible, but ample lake activities and camping at two of the county’s most notable parks make for a memorable visit to Wisconsin’s north woods.
Photo by Show Stopping Photography
The tournament takes place at South Wood County Park and has free admission. As a resident of Milwaukee, it is important for me to mention that free parking is readily available along the neighboring streets! While bleacher seating is available, prime spectating will require you to prop up a lawn chair in the sand of this DIY-amphitheater. Food booths, souvenir stands, and vendor tents are available to walk through between shows. This event is family-friendly and the shows are created to entertain kids and adults alike; however, for those of age who are interested in partying and partaking, a fenced-off beer tent offers a makeshift bar with an attached yard that allows you to simultaneously watch what’s happening on the water and play some classic Wisconsin games. The fun continues after hours at Johnny’s in downtown Wisconsin Rapids for those truly committed to the fourth event.
The hotel accommodations in town are nice (I usually stay at the AmericInn), but the camping is enjoyable as well! Spots at South Wood County Park book up for State weekend the day they are opened, but if you aren’t able to secure a neighboring campsite, I have also stayed about 40 minutes away at the Dexter Park campground and absolutely love the place. If you’re heading out in that direction, you’re bound to drive through Pittsville. When you do, make sure to stop for a photo-op with the sign that marks the geographic center of Wisconsin!
I love show water skiing, from the way our performances inspire young members of the audience to the way that the skiing community acts as a large second-family to me. If you or someone you know is interested in getting more information about joining a water ski show team, let me know! As a geography enthusiast, I’ve mapped out virtually every active show ski club in the country and can let you know which team is closest, when to join, and what to expect!