Diamond Jubilee honors 75 years as a city

The City of Gillett will mark its 75th anniversary, and everyone is invited to the celebration. Gillett residents, past and present, are encouraged to attend Gillett’s Diamond Jubilee on Saturday, Oct. 5, at Zippel Park.

Gillett City hall in 1953

“I’m excited to be a part of the 75th anniversary of Gillett becoming a city,” said Mayor James Beaton. “It’s an exciting time for Gillett. There’s lots of good stuff going on, and I hope that continues.” Many things have changed since Gillett’s incorporation, while others have remained the same.

“I think it’s good for people to know about the origins of their community … and what hardships and triumphs a community has faced over the years,” the mayor said.

Highlights of 75 years as a city:

Gillett city hall in 2019
  • Small businesses continue to be the lifeblood of the community. A formalized Main Street Program and ongoing efforts have helped to revitalize the downtown commercial district.
  • One of the community’s most valued enterprises, Seneca Foods, continues to process vegetables at its Green Bay Avenue facility. Green beans processed in Gillett are packaged under a variety of labels and distributed nationwide.
  • Gillett has trailhead facilities for the Nicolet State Trail at Zippel Park, giving riders access to hundreds of miles of great ATV/UTV trails. The city’s “ATV Capital of the World” federal trademark serves as a rallying point for its tourism promotions.
  • A community is nothing without the people who make it go. Gillett is home to numerous civic organizations, churches, and a K-12 public school.
  • The Gillett community celebrates Independence Day every year with a festival at Zippel Park. In August, the park hosts the annual Oconto County Fair. In October, Zippel Park will open for the city’s Diamond Jubilee.

Join us for the Diamond Jubilee

The Diamond Jubilee celebration begins at 10:30 a.m. with kids’ activities, wagon rides, and food and refreshments. A cornhole tournament starts at 1 p.m., with a pig roast from 5-7 p.m. and live music by Texwishigan at 7 p.m. in the Expo Building. Pig roast tickets are on sale at Gillett Handiworks, Gillett Shell, The Cracked Cup, and Dr. Drake’s office. Advanced tickets are $12 for adults and $5 for kids 4-12 and $15 for adults and $7 for kids at the door.

Gillett High School will celebrate Homecoming the same week as the Diamond Jubilee, and the Jubilee gives residents not involved in Homecoming a way to show their pride in Gillett. Activities in the park are designed for all ages, so come join the celebration!

Gillett’s journey to cityhood

The year was 1944. FDR was president, and World War II was raging. A loaf of bread cost 10 cents, and a gallon of gas was 15. Locally, 1944 marked a turning point for the village of Gillett; this was the year Gillett incorporated as a city. The city adopted a mayor/aldermanic form of government with 3 wards – a governmental structure which is still in effect today, 75 years later.

Join us for the Diamond Jubilee Oct. 5

City of Gillett Diamond Jubilee

The city of Gillett will celebrate its incorporation with a Diamond Jubilee celebration on Saturday, Oct. 5, at Zippel Park. It’s Homecoming week for Gillett High School, and the Diamond Jubilee is just one more way for Gillett residents to show pride in their community.

The celebration begins at 10:30 a.m. with wagon rides through Gillett, kids’ activities and a brat and burger fry at the food stand. A cornhole tournament starts at 1 p.m., with registration for 2-person teams at noon. A pig roast with all the fixings will be served from 5-7 p.m. in the Expo Building. Advance tickets are $12 for adults and $5 for kids 4-12. Tickets are available at Gillett Handiworks, Gillett Shell, The Cracked Cup, and Dr. Drake’s office. Tickets at the door are $15 for adults and $7 for kids. David Dirks of Texwishigan will perform live at 7 p.m. in the Expo Building.

Early history of Gillett

According to “The History of Gillett,” written by Marie Darrow, Native Americans were the first inhabitants in the Gillett area. The first U.S. government deed dates back to 1856 when present-day Gillett was part of a vast area called the Town of Stiles. As more settlers arrived, the Town Stiles was divided into separate municipalities. The city is named after Rodney Gillett, one of the earliest white settlers in the community. Gillett held its first election in 1868, and Rodney was elected town chairman. He was also the town’s first postmaster and used his home as the first post office.

Gillett becomes a city

City of Gillett train depot
Gillett experienced rapid growth after a railroad from Oconto to Clintonville was completed in 1884. Gillett incorporated as a village in 1900 and a city in 1944.

With a population of 400 residents, Gillett incorporated as a village in 1900. Forty-four years later, Gillett incorporated as a city. In those four decades, Gillett’s population skyrocketed, growing over 300 percent, to 1,253 residents. Louis Zahn, who previously served as village president, became Gillett’s first mayor. The city initially rented office space at physician Dr. L.H. Baldwin’s office, and the City Council met at the Village Hall. The city built a municipal building in 1953 on land that was part of City Park.

Small city, big amenities

The historic buildings on Gillett’s Main Street today provide a glimpse of Gillett’s rich history. The city has changed over time yet remains true to long-standing values of friendliness, prosperity, and community. With a population of 1,303, the city of Gillett offers amenities often found only in larger cities, including garbage and recycling pickup, police and fire departments, community organizations, beautiful parks, a sports complex, churches, a medical clinic, and a K-12 public school.

Celebrating 75 years as a city

Seventy-five years as a city is a milestone to celebrate! Everyone is invited to attend the city of Gillett’s Diamond Jubilee celebration on Saturday, Oct. 5, at Zippel Park.

Public Hearing 4/4/19 at 5PM Parking

City of Gillett Public Hearing

NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN that on Thursday, April 4, 2019 at 5:00 p.m. in the Council Chambers of the Gillett Municipal Building at 150 N. McKenzie Avenue, Gillett, WI 54124, a Public Hearing on the Parking for the 100 and 200 Blocks of Main Street, North Lake Avenue, and South Lake Avenue will be held. 

Notice of Possible Quarum

150 N McKenzie Ave., Gillett, WI
Gillett, WI 54124
P 920-855-2255 F 920-855-6283
WEBSITE: www.cityofgillett.com
MONDAY, MARCH 11, 2019 AT 6:30 AM
Notice is hereby given that a majority of the City Council of the City of Gillett
will be in attendance at the Gillett Community Center for a Meet the Candidates
for the upcoming Election in the Community Center at 204 East Main Street,
Gillett, WI 54124, Oconto County on Monday, March 11, 2019 at 6:30 am.
No formal action or discussion of City business will take place.
Chelsea Anderson
Deputy Clerk Treasurer
City of Gillett