Tag Archive | live music

No Drama at the Lingonberry Llama in Belleville

We finally made it to the famous Lingonberry Llama! For a long time, this building in Belleville was vacant, waiting for the right business to make it a favorite gathering place in Belleville.

Here it is now, very inviting even from the outside! Some comments from Jon Cleveland, the owner.

The LL opened in November of 2018. It is now in contention for being the “Nicest Place in America” in a Reader’s Digest poll.  See more about it in a July 29 story on Channel 3000/News 3 Now.

The story is HERE if you want to make a comment of your own.

10-12-19 Update-They won, read the story here!

Upon entering the building, the smell of coffee and fresh-baked pastries on an early fall morning sets your stomach growling even if you had breakfast already 🙂

Barista Heidi was taking a batch of Cinnamon Rolls out of the oven at the time, yum! She gave us one with a thick layer of frosting, it was as good as it looked!

We also enjoyed cheesecake for our 2nd breakfast.

After we ate we looked around, the llama decor is EVERYWHERE, so cute! On the walls is llama art by local artists as well.  This beautiful painting is by Landis Heitz.

In the back by the Children’s playroom is this piece by Marion Rose.

Let’s take a look at the playroom, looks like fun!

This is especially cute! The play table on the right, the llama appears to be sitting there with the kids. You see a stack of construction paper and crayons at the table too!

I thought they had the coolest light fixtures there in the main dining area. An industrial/steampunk design. They also made use of the popular Edison Style bulbs.

They even have knit Llama hats for sale for $25. So adorable!

If you notice on the right wall of the dining room, there is a guitar hanging up, generously on loan from Rick Francois. It’s there for patrons to use. You play a tune and receive $1 off of your order! I wish I knew how to play one!

Well, we had a great first visit here and plan on coming back soon for Open Mike or Pizza night. Be sure to pick up one or several gift cards. We did!

Come to the nicest and friendliest coffee shop in America!



Mitchell South Dakota – World’s Only Corn Palace


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 Only Corn 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 Octoberfest 2016

October 1, 2016

Shawano Octoberfest sign


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.

Autumn crafts in Shawano

crafts at Shawano Octoberfest

Themed towels in Shawano

A favorite part of the festival were all the scarecrows and decorations on Main Street. Here are some of them!


Tasty treats too from Spiral Gourmet by Freedom Foods, LLC.



What a wonderful time in Shawano, we will be back soon!

Barn Shed in Shawano


The Swan Song of the Town of Burke


Burke sign

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.

Lets start at the beginning. The town was first formed in  1847 as one of the four towns of Windsor.  Read a detailed account of Burke’s early history here. Burke has been giving its historical records to the Sun Prairie Historical Society and Museum. I did my research in their research room after calling  608-837-2915.  Historic photos posted are courtesy of the Wisconsin Historical Society and Sun Prairie Historical Society‘s archives.

The former Town Hall is actually in Sun Prairie, behind McGovern’s.

McGovern's in Sun Prairie

It is now a privately owned house. Good it still stands and is in use.

Former Burke Town Hall in Sun Prairie

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.

Bill Droster - Droster Store in Burke

Sherman and Logan Street-Former Droster Grocery building

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.

Fall Train CP to Portage

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.

Jet Room Team 09 003 copy covered faces 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.

Burke Road in Burke

The train station used to be nearby too.

Burke Depot 1913

And also Burke Station Tavern, from 1929.  Sadly, it burned down in 2007. I never did get any pictures of it myself unfortunately.

Burke Station Tavern 1929

I did get a windbreaker from there at a thrift store a few years ago. At least I have that artifact.

Burke Station Tavern jacket

There is still some business going on here.  Pierre’s Portrait Art Co., which opened in 2014.

Pierre's Portrait Art Co. in Burke

In this area is also a marker for the former Burke Station School.

Burke School marker

Burke Station School District 1 marker

burke 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.


Hoepker Monument at Burke Cemetery

 Burke Early Settler Adam Smith grave at Burke CemeteryAdam and Mary Smith grave at Burke Cemetery

In what is now Sun Prairie, his house still stands.

 Adam and Mary Smith House in Sun Prairie

Adam Smith marker

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.


Reindahl Memorial Park monument in Madison

Reindahl Park barn

Reindahl Park marker in Madison


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.

Burke Town Hall

Burke Town Hall Park monument

The park also has a covered bridge and pond around it.  Very pretty in winter too.

Burke Park in winter

The Saturday before Easter, Burke has an Easter Egg Hunt, and kids can get their picture with the Easter Bunny.

Easter Bunny with kids at Easter Egg Hunt blank faces

Burke’s other festival is the 3rd Saturday in August.  The town holds an annual picnic all residents are invited to.

Burke Picnic flyer

Burke Picnic

We have music from the local group Staff Infection, playing a country mix.

Staff Infection Band at Burke Picnic

Also horse-drawn wagon rides around the park. Lots of fun!

Burke Picnic wagon rides

The food is prepared by the Token Creek Lions Club, brats and corn with Culver’s custard for dessert. What a great evening!

We close our story of Burke at the Sun Prairie Public Library, where they had a Burke artifact display up when I visited in January 2014.

Burke Display at Sun Prairie Public Library

And a sad post-mortem of of Burke’s “future”. It will be dissolved in 2036.

Burke's Future sign

We are sad this town’s peak was long before we were born, but glad we could learn more about its history before annexation into DeForest, Madison and Sun Prairie.

Stand Rock Indian Ceremonial Reawakened


Stand Rock Indian Ceremonial SignCrystal Grande Music Theatre sign 8-22-15

Stand Rock0001Stand Rock0004Stand Rock0002

This event has a proud history, going back 80 years. This used to be a nightly performance at Stand Rock in the Upper Dells until the 1990’s, when it was discontinued.  We first heard about this special event when we visited H.H. Bennett Studio in June, they gave us this flyer.

Stand Rock0008

This event ties together all the journeys we experienced this summer. Many of our experiences touched upon Native American events and places. Especially our trip to Lac du Flambeau in July. Now in August, we got to see a performance that has not been done in years for the public. Photos without flash were allowed during the show, no video.

We arrived at the Crystal Grand Music Theatre at around 1:00 to see some of the native crafts for sale and perhaps enjoy some of the food they provided for guests.

Stand Rock Indian Ceremonial Marketplace

The food tent was especially busy, they couldn’t keep the fry bead in stock.  Al got one piece of fry bread that we shared. Being a cook has its advantages though, a few days later I learned how to make the Indian tacos at home following this recipe. See result above. It was delicious!

Went inside to see more exhibits and crafts and people. Saw two familiar faces there, H.H. Bennett’s Great-granddaughter Betsy Grant was there, whom we met at the June event.  Angela R. Davis was also there, we met her at the State Historical Museum in Madison when we went to visit.

Betsy Grant, H.H. Bennett Great-grandaughterWisconsin State Historical Museum

Crystal Grand native art display

It was now 3:00 and time for the performance after being introduced by Melanie Tallmadge Sainz, Director of the Little Eagle Arts Foundation. Also by Cheryl Boehmke,  President of the Friends of H.H.Bennett Studio.  She also is a colleague of Ms. Sainz and together they produced this historic program.  Thank you!

Stand Rock Indian Ceremonial Introduction

The show begins, three drummers form the framework and provide the beat for each of the dances performed.

Ho-Chunk Drummers

Each of the dances were more exciting than the last, the audience of nearly 500 was mesmerized.

Indian Ceremonial Dance

The Sunrise Call of the Zuni was beautiful.

Sunrise Call of the Zuni

It was sung during the performance.

This is the Eagle Dance.

The Eagle Dance

We also heard a rare recording of Chief Evergreen Tree imitating birds and other animals.

Chief Evergreen Tree

The performance concluded with the performers exiting the stage with the crowd enthusiastically cheering. In the lobby we got to talk to them and take pictures.

Indian performers

You could tell the performers were having as much fun as the audience.

Indian Dancer Feather headdress

We had a great time and hope it will be repeated.  This would be a great tradition to bring back to the Wisconsin Dells, which is far more than water parks.

Hot Website Links

Little Eagle Arts Foundation

H.H. Bennett Studio

Wisconsin Historical Society

Crystal Grand Music Theater

Ho-Chunk Gaming

Madison Summer Concerts – Capitol City Band – Concerts in the Park

7-9-15  and many previous visits

My history with this band goes back over 20 years.  I lived in this west-side neighborhood from 1989 (worked there from 1985-2007) until 2003. In the mid-1990’s- 2003 I brought my grandma here to enjoy the concerts.  It was our first time seeing it in many years. We moved away from this area in 2003. 

It was great coming back to hear this Madison favorite. The Capitol City Band Association has been performing at Oscar Rennebohm Park on Thursday evenings since  1969. Tonight was their 822nd concert. They play from 7-8 PM under the big shelter where it is always dry.

Rennebohm Park shelter and sign

Oscar Rennebohm Park plaque

We are given a keepsake program at the before the concert with all the information about the music and group and sponsors. We patronize them as much as possible.

Capitol City Band program 7-9-15

I hear the instruments tuning, it’s time for the concert. Conductor and Director Jim Latimer is the heart of this band and his love for music and Madison is seen in every performance. Madison’s public access channel WYOU has been recording the concert and broadcasting it for over 20 years. You can watch the concerts here on your computer, maybe other devices too. In 1999 they also put out  a CD you can get here.

Capitol City Band at Rennebohm Park

Capitol City Band panoramic

Madison’s Mayor Paul Soglin stopped by that night to express his appreciation to Jim Latimer and the band.

Madison Mayor Paul Soglin

Mezzo Soprano Kathleen Otterson gave a great performance also.

Thanks Jim Latimer and your group(s) for providing such great entertainment for the Madison community!

Jim Latimer conducting

30th Annual International Festival at the Overture Center in Madison


Overture Center and Associated Bank Madison State Street

This was my first time attending this festival (Al couldn’t come) and also my first time going inside the Overture Center of the Arts.  They are celebrating their 10th anniversary this year so it was high time.

The festival began at 10:30 in the morning, opening with Swiss Alphorns, played by two gentlemen from New Glarus. They sound like they are from Switzerland, and have played at this festival the entire 30 years.  We also saw them in the Cheese Days in Monroe parade. Let’s listen in.

Swiss Alphorn players at International Festival

After that spellbinding performance, we enjoyed the Chinese Lion Dance, performed by the Zhong Yi Kung Fu Association.

Chinese Dragon Dance at International festival at Overture Center

Soon after that was a beautiful 45 minute performance by the UW Russian Folk Orchestra in the Capitol Theater.  The Madison Russian School Children’s Choir also performed a cute cat song, sung in Russian!

UW Russian Folk Orchestra in Madison

Here is about half of their performance, including the cat song.

The last performance I saw was Sadira and the Riad Dance Company.  I have been watching them at many festivals over the last 25 years or so.

Sadira and the Riad Dance Company  at International Festival

They also had a photo booth and I couldn’t resist getting in on the act.  My picture will become part of a large mosaic created to celebrate the Overture Center’s 10th anniversary.

Photo Booth Project at Overture Center

International Festival Commemorative Photo 2015

It was a good time and I hope to go again next year. We have overlooked this fine facility for entertainment in our own city and plan on coming here more from now on.   They also have a tour every Saturday at 11, except on days with special events.  The Overture Center also runs Art Fair on the Square in July.

Overture Center at night