"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 :)
Sturgis is a city of 6,627 in Meade County, South Dakota and is known as the City of Riders. That’s because it is the ground zero for motorcycle riders and a HUGE motorcycle rally. We made this one of our stops on our way to Wyoming and wanted to see it since a friend of mine has been there. Sturgis is best known for their big Motorcycle Rally every August. Sturgis also has a radio station that follow the rally, KNKL.
The first order of business was having lunch. The place that was recommended to us was Jambonz Grill and Pub. The owner Sheree Schriver came out and chatted with us a few minutes while we waited for our food, which was delicious! Al had a club sandwich while I had the catfish, yum!
A couple doors down is Sturgis Guns, an employee there told us about Jambonz, thanks!
Just down the street is a historical marker dedicated to Charles Nolin, a Pony Express mail carrier. He was ambushed and killed here by Indians on August 19, 1876. This was still a very dangerous territory then.
After lunch we spent about 1/2 hour exploring downtown. Sturgis want people on the highway to know what community they are passing, so they put “STURGIS” in large, friendly white letters on a nearby hillside.
Downtown is the Sturgis Motorcycle Museum. On the left side of the building is a poster of a photo taken during the motorcycle rally. The street is FULL! This is the community’s biggest event of the year.
On the other side of the building.
Photo by Al Kutil
There is a lot going on here, some landscape work being done, new curbing and other improvements being done. See here for the many places to shop in Sturgis.
On our right is the historic Sturgis Armory building.
The city is in the process of replacing the sidewalk with engraved bricks. They are off to a good start!
The historic bank building on the corner of First and Main, built in 1886.
Love this view, the motorcycle museum would be on your right. The Knuckle Saloon is on the left.
As expected, there are tattoo parlors here, more than one. Sturgis Tattoo in a historic hotel building and The Tattoo Cellar. Since we have no tattoos and have no knowledge on the subject, read this article first before deciding where to go.
There are many places to get a souvenir downtown on this block.
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.
It has been 5 years since our last visit to Lake Geneva, and Winterfest looked like a lot of fun! Events centered around The Rivera and the road going by the lakefront building. It was a cold, windy and sunny day and there was a large crowd.
View from the balcony.
Adding to the festive mood was music by Lake 96.1, a local radio station. We could hear it throughout the festival because of the speakers placed throughout the snow carving display area.
The snow sculptors were not just locals, they came from all points around the country and even other countries. Lake Geneva is home to the U.S. NATIONAL SNOW SCULPTING COMPETITION. Read more about this event in the official Guide. We were quite impressed with the quality of work.
Enjoy a slide show of the many sculptures that we saw, as well as the other activities.
They were all wonderful, but these were the winners.
Team Wisconsin 2
2nd Place – Team Wisconsin 1
3rd Place – Team Maine
Two activities were enjoyed by people on the lake as well. Snowmobile rides were given.