"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 :)
Here is our summary of all the places we have been in 2019. I also wish to apologize for so few blog posts being written. Unfortunately, this also ties in with the fact we did not get to many places last year. We, especially Al, has had many more commitments on my days off that we could not go any place. I have spent the last 6 months trying to catch up on making the videos that will be going into as-yet unwritten posts. You can view these on our YouTube channel.
We still did have fun though, we did get back to some of the festivals we have not been to in a long time. That included Bald Eagle Days in Prairie du Sac in January. We are returning this year too.
We also returned to Woodstock for Groundhog Day on Feb 2nd. This is one of our Favorite festivals and the fact that the movie was filmed here makes it even better!
We also made it to Middleton’s Mustard Festival in August. Thanks again for all of you that saved your mustard bottles, they made a fabulous hat that I proudly wore!
In September we made our first visit to Weiner and Kraut Day in Waterloo in 7 years. The highlight of the festival is the Weiner Dog parade. See it here.
We also went to a festival new to us, the Sorghum Festival in Fall River, also in September. Sorgum is processed as an alternative sweetener that tastes like molasses.
We also got video of processing the sorghum to make the syrup. Similar to making maple syrup.
Education also took a front seat this year for both of us. In November/December Al went to Kick’s Unlimited for Karate. We have become friends with the many instructors there and I shared with them my old videos that I got of them over 10 years ago. I also got new video as well. Al tested for his Gold Belt on December 2nd and earned it! I learned a lot about the many forms done by all of the skill levels from white to black belt.
I took a class introducing me to resin art at Meant to Bead, my favorite beading store, located in Sun Prairie. Thanks Erin for teaching me a new skill, I have many resin projects in mind for 2020!
I made these pendants with extras to make later.
The weather was excellent this holiday season and we took advantage of all of the fun Holiday events that took place those three weeks. We enjoyed our 4th visit to see the Canadian Pacific Holiday Train. See video here.
We also enjoyed Sun Prairie’s fire truck parade, Baraboo’s Lighted Parade, Holiday fantasy in Lights in Madison. We also made it back to the Rotary Lights in Janesville, or first visit there since 2015. A great Holiday season!
One favorite highlight of 2019 is our continued partnership with the Fever River Puppeteers in Hazel Green. I have made a video of each of their shows since September 2018 to help preserve them. Chuck and Sandye Voight would love to see you! I look forward to our visits there!
This year looks quite exciting, as we are planning to spend a week in Door County in mid-July. This will be our first trip there since 2011 and we plan on seeing everything we can!
Happy New Year to everyone. Please share our blog and subscribe, thanks!
The line was long, but it was a warm night and there was a fire to keep us warm while waiting.
Each year, there is a soundtrack you can listen to as you drive through the park transmitted by a LP (low power) radio station. There are actually two stations now. Tune in to 95.3 FM for the main audio, 95.1 for the Dancing Trees.
There were two wagons continuously going around after getting loaded. The atmosphere was filled with excitement for the upcoming holidays and the kids in the group were so excited!
It’s our turn! Soon, we were on our way, watch the video of the hayride.
I returned on the 25th and drove through on my own. If you want to see the displays without other people around, come early in the morning before dawn. Enjoy the Dancing trees, synchronized to Nutcracker music.
2018 will be the 30th Anniversary of Holiday Fantasy in Lights, I look forward to that! I will do the hayride again, it was so much fun!
I have lived in Madison for 33 years, Al about 23, and we had never been to Smoky’s Club before. We figured it was about time! For those who don’t know, this is a supper club, only open for dinner. Wisconsin is famous for them all over the state, and we hope to spend more time exploring them. Find a supper club in your area here.
Smoky’s opened back in 1953 before there were many businesses on University Avenue. I hope they are there for their 100th anniversary in 2053. My Grandparents Norman and Barb Braton brought many people here during the 60’s-80’s. Leonard and Janet Schmock are the current owners and are grooming the next generation to continue the great service here.
When you enter, you forget it is 2017. It is the 60’s again and big band music plays softly in the background. No bright lights here, subdued lighting and a tension-free background leads to a relaxing dinner here.
Yes, that lamp above is a puffer fish.
We ate in the back dining room, inside was a picture of John F. Kennedy and candlelit tables with cloth napkins. The long table was soon filled with Badger football fans enjoying dinner after the game.
Our meal began with relishes, veggie while we wait for the meal.
And dinner itself! We ordered the sirloin steak with hash browns, another item Smoky’s is famous for. The steaks come a 500°F heated metal platter, you are warned not to touch it by your server. You also get a bread basket with your meal.
Dinner was delicious and we had no leftovers. Enjoy some pictures of the bar area, many twinkly lights and neat decor.
Get out of the water, SHARK!
We really enjoyed our dinner here and the relaxing ambiance. We recommend coming here for a great dinner, especially steak, as they are famous for them. Don’t pass up the hash browns either, Smoky’s is also famous for them as well.
Many places in the Madison area are decorating their establishments with lights for their patrons to see them at night. It is a fundraiser idea that has been getting more popular over the years. The Henry Vilas Zoo jumped on the bandwagon this year with their first Zoo Lights event. We went on the first night while it was still warm outside.
This event was well attended for its first night, the weather helped too. Madison radio station Z104 was also there that night. Many animal lights too of course, very cute!
See all the displays in our video!
The Vilas staff and volunteers did an awesome job in their inaugural year of this great new event. We look forward to seeing what they will do next year!
This is the 18th year of the Canadian Pacific Holiday Train, an exciting fundraiser for area food banks along the route the train takes in the US and Canada. It was only in Wisconsin for a couple of days and the timing of it’s stops are different each year. We were lucky this year, we could go!
We chose the village of Sturtevant to see it. This community is located just west of Racine and about 1 1/2 hours from Madison. After dinner we were directed into a parking lot in a shopping mall close to the depot. The lot was filling up fast with an excited crowd waiting to see the train. Many people probably saw the train yearly. This is the view from the lot.
KTI Country radio station in Milwaukee was there to cover the event with a live broadcast.
We were well prepared for recording this event, Al recorded from the ground with our mini-video camera and I roamed the grounds with my new camera. I went up the stairs in the structure above the track to see it coming from above.
I could soon see the headlight and hear the train horn. It was right on time, 5:25 PM! The crowd cheered and whistled!
Join in the fun! Enjoy our video! The train was at the station for 45 minutes and we enjoyed a 1/2 hour Christmas music show. Performers were Colin James and Kelly Prescott.
This event was incredibly fun and worth the journey to get there. Thanks Canadian Pacific for bringing such joy and goodwill on the rails!
Every year this event gets better! Holiday Fantasy in Lights has a new archway at the entry this year. Tune your radio to 94.7 FM to hear the event’s low-power radio station. The sound track is different every year. This year I did something different too, I arrived at 3:30 AM so there would not be any people there. I started first with driving through the park, come join me!
After driving through I went up close to each display. The Dancing Trees music is on 94.5 FM.
On their website there is a live webcam view of the entry and you can hear the soundtrack.
The Electric Group thanks you for coming to see the lights. Please consider donating to keep them coming back! This event is always so much fun and has become a tradition for many. View our 2013 and 2015 visits (missed 2014).
We have not been here for awhile, our last visit was in 2011. The Waunakee Rotary Club works hard to put up this fine display every year. As you pass under the lighted archway, they hand you a booklet full of recipes and a candy cane and thanks you for stopping by. They appreciate your donation to support the club and pay for the lights to put up next year.
This year with our new mini-video camera we made a video of our drive through the park.
We also got closeups of the displays too. It was larger than 5 years ago.
They outdid themselves this year, we plan on returning next year!