"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 :)
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 view is just as pretty inside.
We were there on Feb. 16 to play Jeopardy! with the crowd and this nice man told us about the first owner and it was his idea for all the neon lights. His name was Richard “Dick” Storey and he was a big UW supporter. He passed away 12-29-12.
Across the street from Mickey’s. Get hydroponic growing supplies here and home brewing equipment here. They closed in Madison in February of 2018. There are still four locations in Chicago, Bolingbrook, and Roselle, IL. Also Waukesha, WI.
If you would rather buy your alcohol, Star Liquor has a great selection. It closed 4-4-18.
This concludes our visit to this charming and friendly street in Madison. We hope you had as much fun as we have!
This was our first Coffee Break Festival in Stoughton in Mandt Park. This community believes themselves to be the originator of the coffee break, and they celebrate that every year in August.
The show also has a car and motorcycle show, also some tractors. Despite to cool, rainy weather, 80 cars were still entered.
Enjoy some highlights of the festival!
This year coffee from 6 roasters were available for tasting. Purchase a mug to sample your coffee, $6 for this blue mug sponsored by Conant Automotive. Or $15 for a fancy hand-painted mug with a rosemaling design.
We of course have enjoyed Berres Brothers and Door County Coffee and Tea, but have not had the other ones until today.
Lodi is a friendly city of 3,000 nestled in a valley about 1/2 hour north of Madison. The name Lodi itself means “Peaceful Valley” so the name is apt. Lodi is also a Tree City as of 2013. What an honor! The Lodi Valley began to be settled as early as 1844, almost 100 years later incorporated as a city. It was named after Lodi, Italy. Susie the Duck is what really put Lodi on the map. Read the history of Susie here on this sign that used to be posted downtown by Spring Creek in 2006, for some reason it’s no longer there.
This is the famous masonry basket. On an October 2010 visit saw a couple of Susie’s kin in the basket.
The rubber ducks you see floating down Spring Creek only happen on Susie the Duck Day, every 3rd Saturday in August. I have been to several of these festivals and had a really great time. Spring Creek flows through the center of downtown, emptying out into the Wisconsin River. Back in the early days of Lodi, Spring Creek once powered a flour mill, now beautiful Veterans Memorial Park. The scene near the bridge has changed a little, this tree on the right is no longer there.
The duck drop is done from this bridge. This is Emmy Fink, host of the program Discover Wisconsin. They came to Lodi to cover Susie the Duck Day in 2013 and other fun attractions in the Lodi area. See the episode here.
Lodi has many historic homes going back to the city’s early history. This is the Daniel and Nellie Burns home on Mill Street.
This MAY be the former home of Dr. Chval, but still need to confirm.
There is a stone fountain dedicated to him in Goeres Park.
Overlooking the park is the beautiful Blessed Trinity Catholic Parish. I was near the church when the chimes sounded at noon. I managed to record the music.
A little further down the street is the Lodi Curling Club. Read about the club’s history here. Also the Fairgrounds, complete with a historic one-room school house..
On Seminary Street is the John A. and Martha Robertson house. The smiley face in the window is cute!
This beautiful house stands out, across from the Historic Hotel Lodi building on Main. See more historic Lodi and Columbia county here.
Across the street are a variety of art businesses in a former garage. The one I am familiar with is Gary N-Ski Photography. He was the photographer for my brother’s wedding in 2008, great work. He also has prints for sale of pictures taken in the Lodi area. They participate in the Lodi Art Walk, between May and October.
From here we turn back toward downtown on Main St. to see the many businesses there. If you are here in August, you will find a self-serve Sweet Corn cart in the parking lot of Main Street Liquor, owned by the prominent Ness family. Their largest business is Ness Auto Sales and Service. The sign inside the cart, you can get a large amount of corn too.
On the right is the Kwik Trip and Fire Department. Also a gazebo with Lodi area information.
We now approach the main part of downtown at the intersection of Main and Portage Street (Highway 60).
Lodi Mini Mall at 105 Main on our left. The Lodi Enterprise newspaper is located here.
Directly across from here on the other corner is M of N Vapors, e-cigarette shop.
Next door is the La Grotta Sull’acqua Wine and Spirits Lounge.
Now we arrive at Spring Creek Park, relax by the water after a busy morning shopping 🙂 This is an archived photo from 2011, the corn dispensers are no longer there except for one, and it was empty. I brought my own dried corn to feed the ducks.
Next is the Spring Creek Restaurant and Bar and Cottage House Primitives, a great shop for Colonial-style home decor. The City Hall is right next to it. On 4-29-16 we had dinner at the Spring Creek restaurant, great food and friendly staff! They also have a “duck cam” mounted to wall outside overlooking Spring Creek to watch for Susie on a big screen in the dining room. Great fun!
It looks like they have a brat fry going on across the street, let’s get some lunch! They also served hot dogs, chips, a soda too. $5 for a meal, the chips and soda included. They don’t do this every Saturday, I got lucky!
After lunch, I was given a tour of the American Legion building which was recently renovated. Beautiful work both inside out. The front hall is large and can be rented out to host YOUR event, including the use of the kitchen. They are also now participating in the Lodi Art Walk event as well. Find them on Facebook too to see their latest events. Thanks very much for the great tour, it was fun!
Be sure to see the Veterans Memorial at Veterans Memorial Park.
Near the end of South Main, next to the American Legion is the Jolivette Memorial Home, owned by the Lodi Valley Historical Society. They are open 10-1 on Saturdays May to November. I finally was able to be here for a tour when the museum was open!
On the grounds is the historic Palmer Tree, been here since around the time Lodi was settled. It’s a Bur Oak. It was officially dedicated on Arbor Day in 1997.
On the grounds is also a school bell inside the little shelter above.
We are now approaching the end of South Main, this is the view looking north. The remaining businesses at the top of the street…
Lodi also offers camping at Smokey Hollow Campground. They take a big part in the Susie the Duck Day parade and festivities. Especially the parade! Here is their HUGE driving shopping cart, quite unique!
Lodi is a great place to visit. Great shopping and beauty all year around and most of all, friendly people who say “Hi” back when you do. Nearby is the Merrimac Ferry or Gibraltar Rock to add more fun to your day trip.
Cross Plains is a community of 3500 in Dane County, incorporated in 1920. It is also known as the “Gateway to the Driftless Area” of Wisconsin. It was named by one of the early settlers named Berry Haney. He was from Cross Plains, Tennessee and named the community after his hometown. On the east edge of town is a marker honoring Haney and his business, Haney Tavern.
Behind Main St. flows the Black Earth Creek with a bridge going across and a recreational path.
And here is one of the town’s favorite places to eat, Coach’s Club. We will eat there the next time we visit.
Now we reach the end of Main St. before leaving town. Before we do, there are some other places to see first.
We saw a couple other historic buildings. We don’t know the history of this one yet.
The Old Stone Dental Building is quite beautiful. It was constructed in 1849 by Peter Hill. It has been many things over time, but became a dental office by 2002.
Visit the Cross Plains Brewery also. A proud history going back to 1852. Read this recent article about the brewer. Get Esser’s Best beer here.
When the Historical Society Museum isn’t open, you can learn more about Cross Plains at the Rosemary Garfoot Public Library. It also holds the distinction of being the first “green” library in Wisconsin. They always have something going on there, check their website for the latest events!
Cross Plains also has a supper club called The Hilltop at 4173 County Rd. P. They have been there over 40 years! A great place to celebrate a special event or Wednesday AND Friday Fish Fry! They came under new ownership in January of 2016, Steve and Vanessa took over from Jerry and Mary Thompson to keep this Cross Plains institution open. They opened and owned the restaurant in 1976, 40 years. The new owners changed the name from The Hilltop Inn to just The Hilltop because the original name made people think they also offered lodging which they do not. They look forward to serving you beginning March 16, 2016. They are a supper club, open 4-9 PM.
We had a great visit to Cross Plains and hope to make it to one of their many festivals this year.