"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!
Shawano really knows how to celebrate autumn with their family-friendly Octoberfest. We didn’t see the parade since we were in Keshena for dinner that night. We were there bright and early on October 1 and enjoyed some Polka music by Polka Dynamics.
Many crafters were selling cute autumn-themed decor too.
A favorite part of the festival were all the scarecrows and decorations on Main Street. Here are some of them!
The Town of Burke is a community of 3,505 located near the north side of Madison. It was named after Edmunde Burke, an Irish Patriot and poet. We moved here in 2006, and it has taken me awhile to finally tell the story of this once-prominent town. Here are the current boundaries, the unincorporated town has slowly fragmented over time.
It is now a privately owned house. Good it still stands and is in use.
We live in and near some of the other Burke fragments. Just down the road from me is the former Sanderson School, District 5. It now is an apartment building.
On what is now the north side of Madison on North Sherman, part of the former Bill Droster Store building remains.
On the other side of our home is the still active train track. It has been rerouted slightly at least a couple of times over the last century and once since living here, partly due to the Dane County Regional Airport being built on former farmland. I caught the Canadian Pacific train on its return trip to Portage recently. See a detailed map of all Wisconsin railways here.
As we continue up the hill on Highway CV, we see Messerschmitt Rd. going behind the gate of the airport. It was named after the farmer Sam Messerschmitt who used to live in this location before the airport was built. remnants of his farm remain today, the Ghost Hill Ranch building is now part of the property of Best Buds, a local greenhouse. In April of 1999, the Messerschmitt stone home-built in 1932, referred to as the “gumdrop” house, was moved to avoid demolition due to an airport runway expansion.
Here is the house today, very unique!
Beyond is a hill that has been quarried since it’s materials were used to build Dane County’s Municipal Airport in 1939. Read more of its fascinating history here. It has been Wisconsin Aviation since 1981, serving privately owned pilots and charter flights. Inside is a restaurant where I used to work between 2007-2009, Pat O’Malley’s Jet Room that is open to the public. Here is a picture of me taken with the staff in January 2009.
An old stone farm building used to stand the former downtown by the railroad track on 5263 Reiner Road, the same one that goes by our home. The Wisconsin State Historical Society has three older photos of this barn in its archives.
I went to nearby Burke Rd. by the railroad track, the former center of town during its heyday a century ago.
The train station used to be nearby too.
And also Burke Station Tavern, from 1929. Sadly, it burned down in 2007. I never did get any pictures of it myself unfortunately.
I did get a windbreaker from there at a thrift store a few years ago. At least I have that artifact.
In this area is also a marker for the former Burke Station School.
Burke has three cemeteries. One is at this location.
The 2nd one is Hoepker Cemetery in Sun Prairie. The Hoepker family is buried here. Also early settler Adam Smith and his wife Mary. He owned a tavern and was a Justice of the Peace.
In what is now Sun Prairie, his house still stands.
The 3rd is at the Burke Lutheran Church
The Reindahl family is buried here. They have a historic site near East Towne in Madison. Also Reindahl Park, complete with a barn and a stone monument across the street. Knute Reindahl was especially famous.
This town may be small, but it still has two festivals a year. Lets go to the current Burke Town Hall and the Burke Town Hall Park on the grounds for these festivals.
The park also has a covered bridge and pond around it. Very pretty in winter too.
The Saturday before Easter, Burke has an Easter Egg Hunt, and kids can get their picture with the Easter Bunny.
Burke’s other festival is the 3rd Saturday in August. The town holds an annual picnic all residents are invited to.