"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 :)
This was the first time Al and I went to the Knickerbocker Ice Festival in Lake Mills. We started the fun at Rock Lake by taking a look at Icehenge, a take-off of Stonehenge. We made the mistake of not stopping by right after they finished it in late January, the warm weather over the last 5 days took its toll. Read more about it here.
The Fisheree was going on too, somebody was drilling a hole in the ice nearby to fish in. We found a cute fishing shack downtown promoting the Fisheree.
After visiting Icehenge we went downtown to the square (actually a triangle) to see all the activity going on there. We could hear the sound of multiple chainsaws as the ice sculptors were making their creations. Lets watch them!
We enjoyed a great lunch at Cafe On the Park, under new ownership as of 2015. They are open 6-2 daily. Al had a prime rib sandwich and I had a breaded chicken sandwich. Delicious!
The park sure was busy by 12:30!
There was a big ice skating party going on in the park, small children were being pushed in chairs.
There was also target practice with tennis balls for safety. Also to aid the kids to throw snowballs with greater accuracy 🙂
Some other kids were building a wood castle, complete with flags.
It was now 1:00, and it looks like most of the ice sculptures were getting finished. My personal favorite 3 carvings.
The Lewis carving even had little wine bottles, cute!
The Eskimo was especially fun, since this one was interactive and we could take a fun selfie with it.
Other ice sculptures of note.
We had a wonderful time at this festival and got further reinforcement that Wisconsinites love festivals in any setting the whole year around.
We had a great visit to Lake Mills in February and decided to come back in May when it was warmer. We also came on a Friday, which is important also. From May to early October, the American Legion in Lake Mills sells their locally famous hamburger they call “sliders” (not to be confused with White Castle’s mini-burgers). These are made with locally- sourced beef, from Glenn’s Market in nearby Watertown. Their stand is located downtown, and it sure got busy at times.
We also further explored Lake Mills, it sure is pretty there in the spring!
Also the nearby Fargo Mansion Inn Bed and Breakfast, just as beautiful. 406 Mulberry – 1881
Other historic buildings. At the Chamber of Commerce or Library, you can purchase the booklet, Historic Homes of Lake Mills – Five Walking Tours for $5.00. We got one. Here is a sample from Walking Tour #4.
422 Mulberry – 1877
409 Mulberry Street – 1853
Here is a map from the booklet, sponsored by the Lake Mills Aztalan Historical Society. We thank them for their contribution, as well as all others involved in the production of this book. It also includes the historical context of each home and building. We plan on seeing more on our next visit.
Not every historic home is listed on the tour list. This pretty stucco on 144 West Oak Street caught our eye, and it’s for sale! Wish we can get it! It’s a colonial revival built in 1900. Quite a nice place.
We had a great visit in Lake Mills. We now were going to Aztalan, they are now open for the summer season!
We have made two visits to Lake Mills so far. We returned on May 16, 2014 when the historic site Aztalan reopened for the summer season. Lake Mills is so interesting, one visit is not enough. It is a community of 5,708 in Jefferson county 25 miles east of Madison.
Recreation abounds in Lake Mills. The Glacial Drumlin Trail goes through the south end of town, right by the former depot.
Many former train routes were converted to recreation trails in Wisconsin, this being one of them. Two years ago we rode our tandem bike on this trail. You can buy trail passes at the depot when it is open.
Here is a sign we saw on the trail. You could see a drumlin from a trail, formed when the glacier was here.
On this 2nd visit, we explored more of the downtown area. In the Center of town is a triangle-shaped gathering place called Commons Park, complete with a large gazebo in the center. Many festivals take place here.
We had missed the Knickerbocker Ice festival in the beginning of February. Part of the festival included ice carvings. They were still around almost three weeks later because it has been such a cold winter. This day though was the first of 3 days around 40 so they were melting now. Here is an ice flower.
Lake Mills residents and visitors from miles around stop in town on Fridays only from May-Oct for the American Legion’s famous Slider Hamburgers. We will try them for ourselves come this May when we return.
Two buildings down from Timber Creek is Ephraim Faience Pottery, a place to get upscale handmade pottery to decorate your home.
A new store just opened called Calamity Jane’s, just off the Commons. We have to check that out sometime.
Get great honey products here at the Lake Mills Farmers Market. Doug and Yvette Jenks are bee keepers that are happy to serve you!
Lake Mills is continuing to beautify their downtown, now adding murals. This one was painted last year by Grant Mahr, then a student at Lake Mills High School. Read more about it here. He did a great job, I hope he does more work like this in the future!
A new Veteran’s Mural was painted in 2014 by artist Joe Kiefer. You can find it on the side of the Shopko Pharmacy building downtown.
Now for the BIG reason why Lake Mills is legendary. We stopped at Tyranena Park on the north end of Lake Mills, which goes right down to Rock Lake. Tyranena means, “Sparkling Waters”. The legend is, Native Americans that lived on the shore of Rock Lake suffered a terrible drought that dried up most of the lake. It is said they built stone pyramids and offered sacrifices to them. The rains returned, so much so that the they were submerged in the replenished lake. They have never been found by divers YET, but the search continues to this day.
At this time of year, it is frozen solid with ice fishing shanties dotting the surface.
Nearby the lake is the Motel Pyramid if you are staying longer than a day. It closed winter 2016.
2017-Now a Culver’s stands in this spot.
We loved our visits to Lake Mills and look forward to returning in the spring when it really gets busy here.