All-City Dive Meet, July 25-26, Goodman Pool, 8 a.m.: The All-City Championship Dive Meet is a surprisingly good time. Come by, grab a beverage, and kick back to watch the city’s best young divers compete for top honors. Girls and boys groups and different age groups alternate over the course of the two days. If you can’t make the diving, the All City Swim Meet is July 28-30 at the Ridgewood Pool.

Blooming Butterflies, through Aug. 7, Olbrich Gardens-Bolz Conservatory, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.: The exotic plants, birds, and water features of Olbrich Gardens glassed-in Bolz Conservatory are magical year-round. But it’s extra special when you can also have an encounter with a delicate, ephemeral butterfly (just make sure nobody rides along when you exit). The live butterflies are back at Bolz for the first time since 2019. Butterfly Action Day programming, focusing on monarch conservation, takes place from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. on July 29. Find out more at

Rock County 4-H Fair, July 26-31, Rock County Fairgrounds, Janesville: This county fair has the expected youth and community craft and critter exhibits and judging, along with some heavy-hitting grandstand headliners (Craig Morgan, July 28; Charlie Berens, July 30). There are also three performances daily by The Puppies of Penzance, a pirate-themed comedy dog troupe, which seems like something to see. You can find the full schedule at

Combo Noir, Tuesday, July 26, Olbrich Gardens, 7 p.m.: Anna Purnell (Yid Vicious, Forward! Marching Band, Intemperance Collective, Dixie Sizzlers) needs no introduction in these parts. For Combo Noir the prolific Madison musician has teamed up with New Orleans transplant pianist Adam St. Reiff. The rest of the band includes Tom Heaney on electric guitar, Ken Koeppler on drums and percussion, and Ken Stevenson on upright bass. They present varied tunes that may incite flapper-era dancing…or just meditative contemplation in the beautiful garden setting.

Bonnie Raitt + Mavis Staples, Tuesday, July 26, Overture Hall, 7:30 p.m.: From her eponymous 1971 debut album to the new Just Like That…, Bonnie Raitt has consistently followed the muse rather than commercial concerns: Mix the blues with a bit of country and rock, add her soulful vocals and tasty slide guitar, and enjoy. Eventually the record-buying public caught up, too, with a string of successes on the album charts since Nick of Time in 1989. Raitt’s current tour offers the chance to catch two legends for the price of one, as on many dates she’s joined by soul-gospel titan Mavis Staples (whose own run of remarkable recent albums was joined in 2022 by Carry Me Home, a document of a performance at Levon Helm’s studio in 2011).

Horsegirl, Wednesday, July 27, High Noon Saloon, 8 p.m.: The three members of Horsegirl are veterans of Chicago’s youth music programs, from Girls Rock Chicago to School of Rock, and bonded over their shared love of alt-rock legends like Sonic Youth and The Breeders. On their debut album, Versions of Modern Performance, they’ve crafted a sound that brings post-punk and shoegaze to a newer, younger audience, while also establishing their own unique voice. “We did want to play at how this is our own making of everything that has inspired us, and we’re trying to make it modern,” says drummer Gigi Reece. Read more in Stephen Coss’ concert preview. With Dummy, Seasaw.

Psychedelic Furs + X, Wednesday, July 27, The Sylvee, 8 p.m.: There’s no mold on this 40-year-old loaf of post-punk bread. This tour includes original songwriter and vocalist Richard Butler who led The Psychedelic Furs in a roof-raising show at Merlyn’s on State Street in the 1980s. His brother Tim also still plays the band’s rough and ready array of songs, including hits like “Love My Way” and “Pretty in Pink.” On a bill in which either band could headline, the full, original line-up of X supports: Exene Cervenka, John Doe, Billy Zoom and DJ Bonebrake.

Patricia Skalka, Thursday, July 28, Mystery to Me, 6 p.m.: Patricia Skalka was vacationing in Door County when she thought that it would be a perfect place to set a murder mystery. Seven “Dave Cubiak” mysteries later, Skalka will be at Mystery to Me bookstore in conversation with Doug Moe, to discuss the seventh and final installment in the series, Death Casts a Shadow. All the novels follow Dave Cubiak, a former Chicago homicide detective racked by grief and guilt after his wife and daughter are killed by a drunk driver. He relocates to Door County, finds work as a park ranger and eventually is elected sheriff. Free, but audience members will need a ticket; find info at

WaunaFest, July 28-31, Centennial Park, Waunakee: The Only Waunakee in the World closes July out with the community fest you waunna go to (sorry). Plenty of summertime fun daily comes from a carnival and midway, beer tent and softball tournament. A fun run, craft show and cornhole tournament (all on Saturday) and a parade (11 a.m. Sunday) amp the weekend. And speaking of amps, plenty of bands take the stage. On Friday; The Retro Specz play at 7 p.m. and Boogie & the Yo-Yo’z at 9 p.m.; Saturday it’s Waunakee Project Brave at 2 p.m, Best Practice at 6 p.m and Road Trip at 9 p.m; and Sunday brings the Dave Austin Band at 1 p.m. Full schedule at

First Date, July 28-Aug. 7 and Sept. 15-25, UW Vilas Hall-Mitchell Theatre: Summer is always fun at University Theatre, as many other local troupes are on hiatus. This musical sendup of the date everyone hates most is perfect fare for those looking for some lighthearted but relevant fun. What happens when a blind date newbie is set up with a serial dater? The action moves through one date, with “inner critics” making physical guest appearances. Performances take place July 28-Aug. 7 (with a fall semester remount Sept. 15-25), with shows at 7:30 p.m. Thursday-Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are available at 608-265-2787, through, or at the Mitchell Theatre box office one hour prior to performances.

We hope it’s handy for you to find Picks grouped together in a single post. The individual Picks can still be found in the usual places online: collected here, and sprinkled throughout all the events.

Note: Many venues and businesses may continue to maintain individual requirements for masking, as well as proof of COVID-19 vaccination and/or a negative test for entry. Before heading out for any in-person event, confirm it is still taking place and check for any attendance guidelines on the relevant business websites or social media accounts.

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