It all began in 1976 as an “extra attraction” to the Bicentennial Celebration in Fremont. Under the name of ”Wolf River Bath Tub Society”, local people performed various stunts on the water at the Fremont water carnival. The show generated much interest and enthusiasm, more young people became involved, and Webfooter Water Shows was born.
Through the late 1970’s and the early 1980’s, various members and businesses of the Fremont community donated boats, gas, and equipment as the team continued to grow and develop. The team grew in numbers, some of the skiers started wearing costumes, and an empty lot was cleaned up and turned into the Webfooter showsite.
1981 saw the first of many significant turning points for the Webfooters with the team deciding to have free performances every Wednesday and Sunday during the summer, a traditional that continues to today. The team also performed shows throughout Wisconsin and competed in the Wisconsin State Water Ski Show Tournament for the first time.
During the early 1980’s, through a lot of hard work and fundraising efforts, the team started purchasing its own boats, skis, ropes, and other equipment. While appreciative of the many donations of boats and equipment, the team felt it was important to earn their own way.
1985 saw another significant turning point for the Webfooters…the introduction of their first theme show, “Homecoming – Webfooter Style”. The show was based on 1950′s type of life and all of the ski acts were wrapped around the show theme. This was quickly followed in 1986 with the creation of the Walter J. Webfooter character who would be the centerpoint of all Webfooter shows for the next 15 years.
1987 and 1988 the Webfooters team “came of age” by winning back-to-back 1st place Division B championships in the Wisconsin State Show Tournament. Celebration overwhelmed Fremont as hundreds of people came to applaud the Webfooters and become part of a huge parade. The 1988 victory also qualified the Webfooters to compete in the National Ski Water Show Tournament where the team scored an impressive 5th place.
Following the successes of 1987 and 1988, the Webfooters went international traveling to Japan to perform a multitude of shows for the Japanese public. Mike Abraham did a huge amount of work getting the trip organized and sponsored by Baja boats and executives in Japan.
The late 1980’s to mid 1990’s saw the team continue to grow. Membership increased, water skiing skills improved greatly as members learned from each other, the team increased its number of boats and other equipment.
1997 and 1998 were an exciting repeat of the Webfooters success a decade earlier. Once again, the team took first place both years in the Division B competition at the Wisconsin State Show Tournament. Due to the consistent strong performances of the Webfooter members, the team was moved to compete in the Division 1 category. This raised the challenges to the team to a new level as competitors now included the very excellent teams of Janesville, Madison, etc. Rising to the challenge, the team did well at the State tournament and in 1999 once again qualified to compete at the National tournament.
The first part of the 2000’s saw the team focus on fund raising efforts to replace boats and other equipment that was wearing out and coming to the end its useful life. In addition to replacing old equipment, the efforts also increased public awareness of the team resulting in significantly increased attendance at the team’s free performances.
Disaster befell the team in August of 2002 when a storage-shed fire destroyed most of the team’s boats and equipment. However, insurance coverage was good and, with money earned in fundraisers, the team was able to replace needed equipment and returned to the water in 2003 stronger than ever.
And in 2004, the adventure started 18 years ago by a few fun-loving skiers continues.
Perhaps the best way to describe the Webfooters and all that it entails, was captured long ago by a member who said: ”The Webfooters are just a close knit bunch of amateurs who try to act as professional as possible, and have a great time doing it.”