Meet Joel Kroenke

By: 

Carol Wagner Leader Correspondent


Photo by Carol Wagner Joel Kroenke built an outdoor music deck for performers who will be coming to his home for the Summer 2018 Music Deck Concerts at Cotter Creek.

Joel Kroenke has dedicated his after-retirement time to arranging concerts.

Kroenke was born and raised in Shawano, graduating from Shawano High School. Kroenke earned a degree in urban studies from University of Wisconsin-Green Bay and then worked in his families’ businesses for several years, which included timber frame and log homes, insulation contracting, beef farm and sawmill. The family farm is now Kroenke Lake State Natural Area.

For 15 years, he was the planner and facilities director at College of Menominee Nation. Kroenke taught dog mushing for the college of DuPage and dog mushing and canoeing for UW-Stevens Point BOW program.

He plays harmonica and has taught it and been on several recordings. He has two adult children.

Where do you volunteer?

“My main efforts have a lot to do with music and history. I am on the board of the Shawano County Historical Society and I started the Shawano Folk Music Festival 40 years ago. I organized fundraising concerts for Habitat for Humanity, homeless shelters, and domestic abuse shelters.”

What are you doing with the 2018 Music Deck Concerts?

“This year, I’m branching out with different styles of music. I have a summer concert series that started Memorial Day and will go to Labor Day. I never had a classical orchestra. The Waukesha-based Carroll University Wisconsin Wind Orchestra, who perform this Sunday, June 10, have done European tours. Stas Vengleski performs on Sunday, July 8 before appearing on the Millennium Stage at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. the following week.”

What do you do for the Shawano County Historical Society?

“I’m on the board of directors and planning a series of concerts at the Old Tabor Church. I arrange the music for Rhubarb Fest. Some will be outside and some in the church. The concerts at the Old Tabor Church will be Friday evenings from July 13 to Nov. 2. Tickets are $15 and available at the Glas Coffeehouse, Beans and Books, and the Sikora Center. I will also be doing the music for Christmas at Heritage Park.”

How is the Shawano Folk Music Festival going?

“I started the festival in 1979. There’s a wonderful group of volunteers who have kept it alive. This year is the biggest and best lineup ever. I am one of three people co-producing a commemorative CD with 40 songs. It’s the best compilation CD I’ve heard in my life of 40 performers who have been at the festival. It‘s a fundraiser for future festivals.”

How have you preserved history?

“I collect historic maps. It’s a private collection of anything that depicts this area. I will be talking to the Wisconsin Woodland Owners Association of landowners. I’ll talk about the history of logging in this area.”

Why do you volunteer so much time to concerts and festivals?

“I love music. It brings people together. I like the messages in the songs with a sense of community. I want to keep alive the wonderful songs of the past and it gives them a live venue to perform. I believe in community involvement and respect people who give back to their communities. ”