"Wisconsin-Happy Festival State", by Eve Phillips. My husband and I love to travel in the state of Wisconsin where we live and get great pictures on the way. My name is Laurie Kutil and photography has become a great passion of mine since 2010. One thing I have learned in researching each town before visiting it is that, "Every town has it's story". When I do uncover those stories by connecting with local residents, our experience becomes so much richer. In turn, sharing the stories with you brings me joy :)
One town we HAD to stop in was Mitchell, South Dakota. See their visitor guide here. Stop by the Visitor’s Center across from the Corn Palace. It’s the same building the gift shop is in.
Out front is a sculpture and a plaque. Photos by Al.
Corn is the theme of this community. It is even on the bottom of the lampposts downtown.
The World’s OnlyCorn Palace is a must-see for any visitor to this state. Of course we did! It has been a centerpiece of Mitchell since 1892, still looking brand new with recent renovations.
We arrived at 12:40 after leaving Madison at 5:30 AM. You could see it on your right as you approached downtown, the turrets reaching toward the sky.
The Corn Palace is an entertainment venue, inside is a large auditorium for shows. They were setting it up for a circus performance that was going to take place that evening.
When you come inside the lobby, friendly volunteers welcome you and have some information available about the Corn Palace and other South Dakota attractions. The columns inside even look like corn cobs.
On the main floor and the 2nd floor and displays and pictures of the Corn palace years ago. A plaque dedication the “new” Corn Palace upstairs.
The LED lights add an elegant accent above the entrance.
The pictures outside are new every year and are made of corn and other agriculture of South Dakota. These pictures are on the front of the building.
These are on the right side of the building. Here is this year’s pictures, beginning with Elvis, the largest picture. Then the 5 smaller ones just right of Elvis (click on image to enlarge).
Across the street is the corn palace gift shop and mall and a chance to get a great selfie like we did.
Stop at the Corn Palace, you will have a great time!
Willy Street as it is known by the locals, is one of Madison’s most unique and fun neighborhoods.
This street has special meaning to me, since it is where my husband Al was living when we met in 1997. He lived here with his older brother, who is no longer with us, he passed in Sept. 2005. We sure miss him and he embodied the spirit of Willy St.
Joe and Al in May 2005, photo taken here.
They host a variety of festivals throughout the summer that we have enjoyed many times.
Central Park Sessions – August and September. Check for dates. It benefits 7 non-profits doing great work throughout the city of Madison.
Our favorite way to end the summer! Here is their parade from 2016.
We will start our tour at the top of the street, art is also a major fixture of this street and close by. The large metal tree in the median across from this sign called the Communitree. Created by metal artist Erica Koivunen and her husband, Blacksmith Aaron Howard, this tree fits right in this unique neighborhood.
A new smaller tree is now in the Willy Street Park, installed in 2016 called “Enlightened Self-Interest.
There is is a lot to cover about this fascinating street, the culture here is quite diverse and people welcoming and friendly. In many yards and windows I saw this sign, proving this. Also this sign on a fence.
They also care for our four-footed friends.
Willy Street supports a large array of small business and strongly objects to major chains there. The ironic thing, many of these businesses I profiled here now have multiple locations because they have been highly successful!
An example is the story of the Willy Street Park is legendary. A fast food chain wanted to put a restaurant there, but the residents of Willy St. protested this and as a result, the Willy Street Park was born. It is maintained by a group of volunteers, it is a beautiful place to rest and reflect year-round.
Artwork adorns the street on the sides of many buildings, neatly encapsulating the character of this neighborhood.
This isn’t on Willy but nearby on Paterson, still considered part of the street culture. Also imagined by metal artist Erica Koivunen and her husband, Blacksmith Aaron Howard. They are called, “Dream Keepers”.
Found on a sidewalk.
Also visit the Williamson Street Art Center. They offer art classes to the public. They have done murals all over southern Wisconsin for over 20 years.
This establishment was a favorite place for Al’s brother Joe to visit. Not just a bar, they also have great music groups come in to play as well. At night, the neon comes on in the glass-block windows is a beacon on the street.
The snow is melting and thoughts are turning toward spring at Olbrich Botanical Gardens! The theme for the show is different every year, this year it was a kitchen theme. Many commented it was their best spring flower show ever!
The display window looked festive with a menu of treats.
A major contributor to the displays at this show was Deconstruction, Inc. A great use of reclaimed materials!
And now the main room where the show is. During your visit they have a card showing all the flowers featured in the show. Quite a variety!
The whole room view.
Now let’s see each display individually, all are creative! In the last couple of years Al has caught the photography bug too and his work is also featured here also.
To the left of the table…
Window to the Garden
Relax by the Fire
The “flame” inside the fire display is made up of neon flickering flame bulbs. Good effect, take a look!
Dinner is Served!
The table is made of wood cross sections instead of long boards. The chandelier is made of sticks and has a “vintage” light bulb inside.
Another table setting inside a pond, good for a hot summer day.
Relax at the Spring Flower show, soon it will look like this outdoors too!