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Tommy Bartlett Show to close permanently after nearly 70 years

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Bartlett-Boat
Image courtesy of WKOW.

WISCONSIN DELLS (WKOW) -- The iconic Tommy Bartlett Show is coming to an end after nearly seven decades in Wisconsin Dells, due to the loss of business income from the pandemic.

Owners of the water-ski, sky, and stage show, closed the attraction for its 2020 summer run due to restrictions on large gatherings because of COVID-19. The show would normally run two shows daily from Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day.

President and co-owner Tom Diehl released the following statement Wednesday morning:

“It is with great sadness that we announce the Tommy Bartlett Show will not be able to make a comeback in 2021 as we had hoped. After 69 years, we are permanently shuttering the business. From May through September 6, we experienced a complete loss of revenue when we had to cancel our 2020 summer season on Lake Delton due to the pandemic. Each fall, we begin to plan for the next season, and with so much uncertainty surrounding the future of the pandemic and travel, we cannot undergo additional financial risk and investment to begin planning for summer 2021. While we are grateful that we have had almost seven decades of entertaining visitors in Wisconsin Dells, we have no choice but to close the Show."

The show began in 1952 as a touring water-ski exposition that traveled to World's Fairs, on U.S.O tours and to other cultural exchange programs. It became a permanent fixture in Wisconsin Dells in 1953. Since then, the attraction has entertained over 30 million visitors and performed more than 18,700 shows.

The company's year-round attraction, the Tommy Bartlett Exploratory, will stay open, according to the release.

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