8 events this weekend including science and book festivals

8 events this weekend including science and book festivals

A multitude of scientists and authors will step away from their labs and writing desks to engage with the public at the Wisconsin Science Festival and Wisconsin Book Festival all weekend at various downtown Madison locations. A fancy fundraiser for city parks and several concerts round out the entertainment options.


Wisconsin Science Festival, Discovery Building and other locations
Thursday-Sunday, Oct. 17-20
Now in its ninth year, the Wisconsin Science Festival includes more than 220 events in half of the state’s counties this weekend with hands-on workshops, demonstrations and performances dealing with everything from robotics, water quality and wildlife to the science of the Star Wars movies. In Madison, the event will include a weekend-long expo at the Discovery Building on the University of Wisconsin–Madison campus with dozens of stations and activities related to medicine, chemistry, astrobotany and more. Also promised, “twice as many robots as last year in the Robot Zoo.”

Wisconsin Book Festival, various locations
Thursday-Sunday, Oct. 17-20
A wide variety of fiction and nonfiction writers will appear this weekend at the Wisconsin Book Festival. Readings will take place in various downtown locations. Here’s a sampling. Former Wisconsin Public Radio show host Veronica Rueckert will discuss Thursday at the Madison Central Library her new book “Outspoken: Why Women’s Voices Get Silenced and How to Set Them Free.” There will be half dozen winners of the statewide 2019 Fiction & Poetry Contest Friday evening at Room of One’s Own bookstore. And Saturday at noon, three of the four authors of the book “For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Politics” will appear — including Donna Brazille — all of whom worked on the campaigns of Democratic candidates for president, starting with Jesse Jackson in 1988.

Picnic in the Park, Vilas Park
Saturday, Oct. 19, 4-10:30 p.m.
The Picnic in the Park fundraiser for the Madison Parks Foundation is held in a different park every year. On Saturday, it will take place in Vilas Park. This semi-formal event — with dinner prepared by local chefs Johnny Hunter, Tommy Gering and Dan Smith and a performance by jazz singer Gerry Dimaggio — carries on a 125-year tradition in which private citizens are enlisted to support the city’s public park system.


Rachel Barton Pine Plays Khachaturian, Madison Symphony Orchestra, Overture Hall, Overture Center for the Arts
Friday, Oct. 18, 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, Oct. 19, 8 p.m.; Sunday, Oct. 20, 2:30 p.m.
Internationally known violinist Rachel Barton Pine has played with orchestras all around the world, but will debut as a soloist with the Madison Symphony Orchestra at three concerts this weekend. A program of music all by Russian composers will showcase Pine on Khachaturian’s “Violin Concerto in D Minor.” Arrive an hour before each performance for a 30-minute lecture about the music you will hear.

Ben Folds and a Piano, The Sylvee
Sunday, Oct. 20, 7:30 p.m.
Pop-rock singer-songwriter and pianist Ben Folds is known for getting his audiences to participate at his live shows, and no doubt he will do that again Sunday night when he plays The Sylvee. And as the author of “A Dream of Lightning Bugs,” his witty new memoir, Folds will also make an early afternoon appearance at the Madison Central Library for the Wisconsin Book Festival. Opening the evening concert will be Nashville-based singer-songwriter Savannah Conley.

COIN, The Majestic
Sunday, Oct. 20, 8 p.m.
The alternative-pop group COIN performs its sing-along-friendly music on Sunday night at the Majestic Theatre. The band’s following is growing thanks to songs such as “Talk Too Much,” “Crash My Car” and “Cemetery.” WLDFE opens.

John Hiatt, Barrymore Theatre
Sunday Oct. 20, 7:30 p.m.
Veteran singer-songwriter and storyteller John Hiatt released his new album, “The Eclipse Sessions” on Oct. 12, and will bring the trio with which he recorded it to the Barrymore Theater on Sunday night. Hiatt’s music has been covered by everyone from Bonnie Raitt to Bob Dylan. Hear the music from the man himself.


Martha Graham: Power and Passion, Kanopy Dance Co., Overture Center
Saturday, Oct. 19, 5 p.m.
Kanopy Dance Co. hosts elite dancers from the Martha Graham School in New York City for “Martha Graham: Power and Passion,” a performance recognizing and demonstrating the famed choreographer’s work. Audience members can even meet these spectacular artists on opening night. Pieces by Kanopy choreographers Lisa Thurrell and Robert E. Leary will follow.

Joel Patenaude is associate editor of Madison Magazine.