Since 2010, no horse in the world is taller than Big Jake, a Belgian gelding that is 6 feet, 10.75 inches (without shoes). He is 17 years old this year and weighed 240 pounds at birth.

Big Jake lives at Smokey Hollow Farm, Poynette. The best time to see him is November and December, when the cut-your-own-tree farm operates a gift shop and occasional barn tours.

The highest death toll from wildfire is what we know of as the Peshtigo Fire, which happened on the same day in 1871 as the Great Chicago Fire. An estimated 1,200 to 2,500 people in Wisconsin and Upper Michigan died because of it.

That makes the Peshtigo Fire Museum, inside a former church, much more than the average small-town repository of artifacts. Pay your respects at the adjacent cemetery. The seasonal museum reopens Memorial Day weekend.

The world’s first amphibious vehicle “duck” tour for sightseeing happened in 1946 in Wisconsin Dells, through the company now known as Original Wisconsin Ducks. The vehicles were used for military purposes during World War II.

Duck tours through the Dells last one hour and are available daily from mid March to mid November, weather permitting.

The Mercury Marine Pyramid, the world’s largest human waterskiing pyramid, was formed in Janesville and involved 80 skiers in four tiers in 2018. Guinness refers to it as the Mercury Marine Pyramid because Mercury Racing outboards did the pulling.

The skiers were from the Rock Aqua Jays of Janesville, Aquanuts of Twin Lakes and Webfooters of Fremont. All perform free shows for the public during summer.,,

Cheese carver Troy Landwehr of Appleton used a 2,000-pound block of aged Cheddar to create the world’s largest cheese sculpture on Sept. 18, 2015. The sculpture, of a cheeseburger, weighed 1,524 pounds and was for The Melt in Hollywood, Calif., to honor National Cheeseburger Day.

Landwehr operates Kerrigan Brothers Winery, Freedom, whose specialty is wine made with Wisconsin-grown fruit. Get four tastes for free, or $5 for eight at this big and rural setting.

The annual Lumberjack World Championships in Hayward is a hotbed for setting world records. Competitors hold 18 world records for their speediness in traditional Northwoods skills, boom run to underhand chop.

Sawing, climbing and logrolling are what the international spectacle is all about at the Lumberjack Bowl. The next championships are Aug. 1-3; one-hour lumberjack shows happen May 26 to Sept. 1.

Rachael “The Doughnut Queen” Cholak of Kenosha compiled the world’s tallest stack of doughnuts in one minute at Mike’s Donuts and Chicken, Kenosha, in 2018. She put together a stack of 12 doughnuts in that time.

Expect an eclectic menu. One tamer example: Drunken Pig Biscuits are biscuits topped with braised pork and a drizzle of bourbon glaze. Find a cheeky mix of breakfast, lunch, shakes, cocktails, nitro brews and more at

The International Crane Foundation, Baraboo, set a record for the world’s longest human-led migration in 2000 because of its Whooping Crane Recovery Plan. That’s when ultralight aircraft began leading cranes from Necedah to St. Martin’s Marsh Aquatic Preserve in Florida. The 1,250-mile trip took 39 days during the first year.

The foundation’s headquarters is undergoing a $10 million expansion and won’t reopen to the public for guided tours until 2020. It is the only place in the world where all of the world’s 15 species of cranes live.

The world’s largest scoop of ice cream was 3,010 pounds and served during the annual Cedarburg Strawberry Festival in 2014. The strawberry ice cream, produced by Kemps, was 5 feet, 6 inches tall and 6 feet, 2 inches wide.

The 33rd annual festival is June 22-23 in downtown Cedarburg. Admission is free.

The world’s largest cheese platter (4,437 pounds and 9.92 ounces) was prepared in 2018 in Madison by Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin to raise money for the Great American Milk Drive. It was 35 feet long and seven feet wide.

Ten of the top 20 finalists in this month’s U.S. Championship Cheese Contest were made in Wisconsin. That level of Badger State domination is business as usual.

Weekly “Roads Traveled” columns began in 2002. These syndicated articles, archived at, are the result of anonymous travel, independent travel, press trips and travel journalism conferences. What we choose to cover is not contingent on subsidized or complimentary travel.

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