It’s been a Wisconsin Dells family entertainment fixture for 68 summers, but there will be no Tommy Bartlett Show extravaganza in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The announcement was made Tuesday as a result of Wisconsin’s “Safer at Home” initiative ordering businesses to close and people to stay at home.
As part of the Wisconsin Dells destination, the water ski, sky and stage show was presented each year between Memorial Day and Labor Day weekend.
“This is a very difficult decision for us to make, but having little more than a 100-day window in which to host our shows leaves us with limited options to proceed,” said Tom Diehl, president and co-owner of the Tommy Bartlett Show.
The show debuted in 1952 as the Tommy Bartlett’s Water Ski & Jumping Boat Thrill Show, a touring water-ski exposition created by Chicago-based showman and radio announcer Tommy Bartlett. The show traveled to World’s Fairs, on USO tours and to other cultural exchange programs including Chicago lakefront and riverfront festivals. By 1953 it made its permanent home on Wisconsin’s Lake Delton, evolving into a mix of waterskiing and high-speed boat racing demonstrations.
The shutdown will impact 115 seasonal jobs.