If you think county fairs are stuck in time and all pretty much the same, think again. Many go way beyond corn dogs, cotton candy, thrill rides and midway games of chance.
All but one of Wisconsin’s 72 counties hosts at least one fair (Menominee County is the exception), and about 85 percent of these events get up to $10,000 in state aid per year. The best fairs have at least one distinguishing feature and celebrate our rural roots.
A longtime but quiet force on the quiet side of Door County gains wider visibility this month.
The opening of a unique visitor center at The Ridges Sanctuary moves the work of researchers and naturalists from obscure quarters to busy Highway 57 in Baileys Harbor. The Ridges is the oldest nature preserve in Wisconsin and deemed of international importance.
In the shadow of beautiful Door County, the 70-mile-long peninsula that attracts two million visitors per year, is Algoma on the Lake Michigan shoreline. The beguiling little city of 3,200 is less than 20 miles south of Sturgeon Bay, and Highway 42 cuts through the core of downtown.
Often-overlooked Algoma is worth a quick detour or overnight all on its own. This is why:
Farmers used to pitch in as a neighborhood to rebuild a barn or harvest grain, one humid acre after another. Their end-of-day reward was a hearty spread of homemade pickles to pies, enough to feed a threshing crew, as my father used to say.
That obsolete reference to the communal meals of threshing crews, whose work separated grain from straw from one farm to the next, was on my mind while heading to Dave and Leslie Meuer’s 150-acre farm in Calumet County, N2564 U.S. 151, near Brothertown. On their hilltop mix of forest and pasture is a glorious view of Lake Winnebago’s eastern shoreline. Dozens see this after heading up the gravel driveway for a from-scratch farm dinner.
During the Great Depression, Scott Lake made a living one penny at a time, and his business has grown to modestly sustain a fourth generation of the family today.
Penny arcade games — pinball, hands-on table hockey and other challenges of quickness or deftness — were affordable entertainment for beleaguered families in the 1930s. Soon the Wisconsin entrepreneur had a multi-state work circuit, hauling six semi-trailers of these games from Georgia to North Dakota.
When trees bud and bulbs blossom, the arrival of fresh asparagus and morels can’t be far behind. Hoop houses and greenhouses hike the likelihood that locally grown spinach, tomatoes and more will ripen all year, but now is the time for farmers markets to move outdoors, rain or shine. Count these among my favorites.
— Dane County Farmers’ Market, Madison: Up to 150 vendors (300-plus players per year) fill the Capitol Square on Saturdays, and there is no better place to get a taste of what is in season. That includes a whiff of hot-button issues (expect protest signs, petition pushing and colorful characters on street corners). All products are ag-based and the work of people who staff the booths; no other such producer-operated market in the U.S. is bigger than this one, and newbies need patience because of a five-year waiting list to participate.
Lots of people say a picture is worth 1,000 words; fewer acknowledge the value of 1,000 stitches.
Wisconsin’s first poet laureate was among the exceptions. Ellen Kort of Appleton, who died recently, noted this in her preface to the 2008 book “Wisconsin Quilts: History in the Stitches” (Krause Publications, $34.95):
Near Lake Michigan, at the Indiana-Illinois border, is 800-acre Wolf Lake and an unincorporated town best known for its August Onion Days Festival.
If Frank Lloyd Wright had his way, Wolf Lake would have gained a grand amusement park with “lagoons for boating, promenades for strolling and concessions for consuming” — but real estate developer Edward C. Waller wouldn’t bite on the idea.
During a much younger life, I was introduced to horse race wagering, earthy bluegrass music and long-simmering stews called burgoo while living in western Kentucky.
So when Wisconsin met Kentucky in the NCAA Final Four this spring, I could not resist the urge to place a bet on the outcome with former work colleagues Chuck and Donna Stinnett of The Gleaner in Henderson, Ky. “Name your poison, cheese breath,” he taunted. “Uh oh,” his wife observed. “The trash talk has begun.”
BRIGHTON — The majority of Brighton residents at a special meeting Tuesday said they want their town dump back.
Nestled behind a conference center and expansive parking lot is one of the most peaceful, yet educationally interesting areas on the Gateway Technical College Kenosha campus.
Authorities said an ashtray dumped into a garbage can is the likely cause of a Monday night structure fire at 7742 Ninth Court.
Just how young was Oscar Villalobos when he began working for the Kenosha Police Department? Villalobos was so young, he needed his mom’s permission to buy bullets.
If you happened to look up during Sunday’s Kenosha Civic Veterans Parade, you might have seen more than an escaped balloon.
Derrell Greene is really retiring this time around.
About 42 million Americans nationwide will be hitting the road this Fourth of July weekend, the highest volume of holiday travelers since 2007, according to AAA.
From the shimmering colors that dart across the night sky to a rumbling boom, fireworks are always a captivating show on Independence Day celebrations.
SALEM — The town’s Incorporation Committee presented Monday the results of its yearlong study of the benefits, tax implications and steps required to incorporate the town of Salem into a village.
Eagle-eyed neighbors are being credited for quickly alerting authorities to a house fire Monday evening.
After rejecting the policy for last school year, the Kenosha Unified School Board has approved a district policy on the state’s Course Options program, allowing students to take courses at other schools and colleges at district expense.
Heroin and driving don’t mix.
Seven years after completing his fourth consecutive term as Kenosha mayor, John Antaramian officially declared Monday he will again seek cty hall’s top spot.
Kenall Manufacturing, a Kenosha-based producer of commercial and industrial LED lighting systems, is on a special mission to make hospitals, parking garages and roadway tunnels safer places.
Kenosha Police are looking for the driver of a red Pontiac involved in a hit-and-run crash with a moped Monday afternoon.
Kenosha County lake associations are being warned about a new threat — starry stonewort, an invasive algae that forms a dense mat of material on the lake bottom, preventing native plants from growing and fish from spawning.
Kenosha’s Independence Day celebration Saturday will result in some road closings and traffic adjustments.
The Independence Day holiday on Saturday will affect some city hours and services.
Question: Kenosha industrialist Zalmon G. Simmons bankrolled what small but mighty railway in 1889?