When Mike Berglund started throwing his annual Stripper-Palooza mini-festival over a half-decade ago, it wasn't called Stripper-Palooza. If fact, it wasn't about strippers at all -- it was about getting friends together to share a meal and support local bands. But after a conversation at his local watering hole between friends -- some of whom were former exotic dancers -- the name Stripper-Palooza was born, and a pole-dance contest was added to this yearly summer party.
Going down this Saturday, August 24 at Casselman's, the big bash includes a poker run, pig roast, bike show, pole-dance contest and live music from eight local and national bands. And Berglund is donating a portion of this year's proceeds to friend and former Stripper-Palooza performer Jackie, who is battling cervical cancer.
"The news was devastating," says Berglund of his friend's diagnosis. "We have a little picnic to get ready for the party and everyone who helps comes over. It was then that Jackie told me -- she said that she had kept it to herself for six months because she was embarrassed. As a dad and a boss, when I get sick, I hide it. It's embarrassing because I feel like it's a sign of weakness, so I could relate.
"But we're turning a bad thing into a good thing," adds Berglund, who will donate $5 from each ticket sold directly to the mother of two.
But then, Berglund says that Stripper-Palooza has always been about getting friends together. That, and supporting local music. With an eight-band lineup that includes local and national acts like the World Famous Johnsons, Atomic Punks, Rat Salad and Throw Logic, the party promoter says the pole-dancing contest came in handy as a way to break up the monotony of lag-time between band's set changes.
Berglund stresses that though the event is called Stripper-Palooza, the exotic dancing aspect is just a small part of the all-day party.
"I just wanted it to be a pig roast and a showcase for local bands, but what I didn't realize at the time is that if you use 'stripper' and 'palooza' in a sentence, it will get some attention," Berglund jokes. "It's not always positive attention, but you tell people, look, it's just tongue-in-cheek. It's not like we're doing anything raunchy."
Along with the pole-dancing contest that carries a $1,000 first prize, there will be a bike show and the pig roast; the fun starts at 2 p.m. at Casselman's. But the action actually gets under way at 8 a.m. with "Jackie's Ride for Recovery," an early-morning poker run that takes off from the Full House bar, and then participating motorcyclists stop at five more locations along Broadway, picking up a playing card at each one; the best hand at the end wins a prize.
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No matter how tasteful, Stripper-Palooza is still 21 and up. Tickets are $20 in advance, $25 the day of the event and can be purchased through the Casselman's website. "Jackie's Ride for Recovery" is a $35 entrance fee with a $20 fee for additional riders -- and that price includes all Stripper-Palooza events at Casselman's as well. For more information or to sign up for the poker run, visit the "Jackie's Ride for Recovery" Facebook page. For more information and a full line-up of bands at the sixth annual Stripper-Palooza, visit the event's Facebook page.