Dear Geneva Shore Report,

This letter comes to you from sunny Jacksonville, Florida; Jacksonville is very close to the coast of the Atlantic Ocean and the largest city in the northeast part of the state. This “thank you” letter comes from Buddy and Rhonda Francis, we actually live in a community south of Jacksonville: Ponte Vedra/Nocatee. We attended Lake Geneva’s “Winterfest” event this year to celebrate our 49th wedding anniversary. It was our first trip to Wisconsin. We wanted to share our gratitude and thankfulness to your community for the tremendous job your city did in presenting the “Winterfest” We flew into Chicago and rented a car and made the wintery, snowing yet, very pleasant drive to Lake Geneva. 

We stayed in the Bella Suites hotel which was fantastic. They gave us a room with an outside view of the lake and a balcony to be able to watch the ice fisherman and part of the park. Their staff was extremely pleasant and helpful our entire stay. We ate at several restaurants: the Baker House, Sprecher’s Popeyes, great service, and superb food. We shopped at many of the specialty food shops i.e. Simple Bakery, for their famous Maple Bacon Doughnuts, Bittners Bakery, The Cheesebox, and the Elegant Farmer, which had the best Chicken Pot Pie and apple pie. Of course, we had to stop at Mars Cheese Castle in Kenosha. In each place, we were met and attended by the absolute kindest and efficient staff. Each and every worker appeared excited about the festival and did a great job in helping us. We visited almost every type of gift shop and we were net with some gracious, helpful employees. At first, we were unable to get tickets to the Ice Castle, but somehow, we were able to download two tickets. They were a wonder to see and a thrill to walk through. Seeing them was definitely worth the effort and time. 

We want to say a BIG thank you to each of the businesses that participated in the “Cocoa Crawl” We realize it took extra planning and work to provide a special treat for those at the festival. To see all the smiles and excitement in the children’s eyes as they got their feet hot chocolate or treat was a pure joy. It was very inventive for the movie theatre to show a movie about chocolate. Though it was not a “Packed House” we appreciate the theatre management making a family-type movie available. We noticed several families that the children seemed to enjoy a night out at the giant movie screen instead of an iPad or DVD movie on TV. 

We managed to get tickets to the “Tristan Crist” magic show. To be sure, this is a MUST SEE if anyone is in a 300-mile radius. His comedic yet mystifying presentations were first-class entertainment and as good as any Las Vegas show (of which we have seen several). We sat in the front row and were amazed and dazzled by his magic and special effects. 

Of course, the Snow Sculptors were absolutely tremendous! It was mesmerizing to watch the workers through the days and nights bring their visions into reality. Of course, we are partial to the snow sculpting team from Florida! The Ice Sculptors in front of the businesses were the first-class touch and we saw people take careful notice of their details. These definitely made shopping downtown a more enjoyable and special experience. 

Our biggest “THANKS” goes to “The Geneva Shore Report” videos each day. In early January when we began planning our trip to Lake Geneva, Rhonda searched the internet for information about Lake Geneva and found the YouTube videos of Lisa Otto and Jen Lepkowski, and George Belushi Jr. filming the local weather reports. They are fantastic! Each day we found ourselves excitedly watching and listening to their information and “down-home” commentary and seeing parts of the Lake Geneva area. In the weeks prior to the festival, watching the GSR each day added to our excitement of coming to Wisconsin. While we were shopping one day we actually had the delightful surprise of a “by chance” meeting of Lisa, Jen, and George in a coffee/bike shop downtown. They each were very gracious with sharing their hospitality and our time of conversation was a great pleasure. We expressed to them they do a spectacular job and it was a joy for us to watch their videos and to meet them in person was a wonderful added bonus. We appreciate someone taking the time and effort of sending us a copy of the printed GSR paper. It was a pleasant surprise to see our picture and comments, it made us feel very special, thank you. 

We have had the blessed privilege of traveling to many tourist attractions in the USA and taking trips to foreign countries and cruises. We live just 2 1/2 hours from the vacation capital of the world, Orlando FL., Disney World, Universal, etc. By having 9 grandchildren that live very close to us, we take numerous trips there a year; but without a doubt, the Lake Geneva “Winterfest” has been one of our best experiences and helped make our 49th anniversary very special. Once again “Thank You” to your city planners, community groups, and business owners working around the Covid issues and continuing on with your yearly tradition. Please share our appreciation with your community and those that take part in the Winterfest. We pray God’s richest blessings on your city and trust many other people will experience the joy of Lake Geneva “Winterfest”. 

By-the-way: the cold temperature was not of any inconvenience. You simply plan for the cold and dress for it. Actually, we were pleased with the colder temps so the Snow Sculptures could do their finest work which they did. Your city roads/transportation department keeping the roads, parking lots, etc. cleared did better than a great job, much appreciation to them! 

Sincerely, Buddy and Rhonda Francis

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