Baraboo’s mayor has given Jerry Stich a lifetime achievement award, but the bandleader says the show is far from over.
During Tuesday’s City Council meeting, Mayor Mike Palm presented Stich with the Gem Award. A longtime music professor at the University of Wisconsin-Baraboo/Sauk County, Stich is best known for organizing the summer Concerts on the Square series.
“Hopefully we’ll continue the concerts for many years to come,” Stich said.
In reading a proclamation, Palm said Stich “has dedicated his working life in helping to make Baraboo a more prosperous and positive place to live and work.”
Each month, Palm gives the Gem Award to someone who has helped the community prosper. Past recipients have included a banker, a historian and a clown. Stich was honored for establishing music groups on campus and in the community.
“I am continually amazed by the wonderful musicians in Baraboo,” Stich said.
He arrived in Baraboo in 1969 to head UW-Baraboo’s music department. He went on to serve as chair of the music department for the entire 13-campus UW Colleges system.
Meanwhile, Stich founded the Campus/Community Band, Civic Chorus and Campus Singers, a troupe that toured the state in an Army surplus bus. He also developed the popular Concerts on the Square series, held each summer Thursday downtown and offered free of charge.
“These educational and cultural weekly concerts for our residents and visitors have become an iconic mainstay of summers in Baraboo,” the proclamation reads.
Stich said the city, which has made annual contributions to support Concerts on the Square, plays a key role. “Without your support, we couldn’t do the sort of things we’ve been doing these past several years,” Stich said.
He and wife Carol have played leading roles in many performing groups. These include the Baraboo Theatre Guild, her singing group the Cheddar Chicks and his Big Band, Brass Band and Circus Band. These groups have been fixtures at local parades and festivals.
Stich credited the community’s volunteer musicians and its arts supporters — Concerts on the Square has more than 100 sponsors — with bringing culture to the community. “I just can’t tell you how proud I am to wave my arms in front of them every week,” he said.