Tag Archive | Williamson Street

Williamson (Willy) Street in Madison-Formerly “Implement Row”


Willy Street Sign

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.

The Marquette Waterfront Festival -June

La Fete de Marquette – July

Orton Park Festival – August

 Willy Street Fair   – September

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.

Communitree on Willy St.

A new smaller tree is now in the Willy Street Park, installed in 2016 called “Enlightened Self-Interest.

In this building is Machinery Row Bicycles, a great store to service or buy a new bike.  Also Sardine fine dining.

Machinery Row Bicycles in Willy

Sardine restaurant

A little further and across the street is “Alexa”, another sculpture.

Alexa Sculpture and plaque on WIlly

At the former Madison Candy building is Ground Zero Coffee and the Eldorado Grill.

Join us on a visual tour of Willy Street as Al rode his bike down the street, describing the many businesses there. Also see the street at night, quite colorful!

To learn more about what Willy Street has to offer, visit these websites:

Visit Willy Street

Common Wealth Development

Willy Street Blog

Wil-Mar Neighborhood Center

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.

A corny mural.

Mother Fools Coffeehouse has a designated wall for permitted graffiti that changes at least monthly.

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.

One mural they have done in 2009 is “The History of Willy Street in the 70’s”.

The many small businesses on this street are part of the charm, also pleasing to the eye. Here are few of them.

Fat Pinky Glass

A favorite place during the Willy Street Fair, they make glass objects to a rapt audience while you watch.

Mad Cat Pet Supplies

A favorite place for cat toys at well as other other pets, they are a favorite in Madison. Also on Monroe Street at Knickerbocker Place and Mineral Point Rd.  This is the original.

At night, enjoy their custom neon in the window.

Nature’s Bakery Co-Op

Great bread and granola made here. It is employee-owned and supply many local grocery stores including the Willy Street Co-Op further down the street.

Another place making great bread as well as full meals is

Madison Sourdough

We enjoyed lunch there in 2016.

Enjoy upscale dining at:

A Pig in a Fur Coat

Willy Street Co-Op

Now open in three locations, this is the original, they first opened in 1974 and we ourselves are members. Get food free of GMO’s, gluten or other additives. We are members!

In the back is a straw-bale wall, built by the community. See it getting built below. And the finished wall, it has held up quite well in our harsh weather!

They sometimes have a cookout outside on a nice day, tied into supporting a local cause.

The performing arts are also represented on Willy Street by the

Broom Street Theater

It is hard to see since it is recessed behind the trees. I have seen a show there before, time for another one!

Crystal Corner Bar

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.

 Weary Traveler Freehouse

An always busy place, we need to stop here at some point.

Roman Candle Pizza

This is the original, opened in 2007, now in 6 locations total!

Have a broken clock or a watch needing a new battery? Visit Brumley’s Old Clock Shop. Be there on the hour to hear all the clocks chime!

On the subject of fixing things, you can get your clothes fixed/altered at:

Schwa Tailor Shop

Lazy Jane’s Café

A very popular place, we had breakfast here once.

Willalby’s Café

A relaxing, friendly place. We have eaten here a few times.

Next door is Ha Long Bay, serving up Thai and Vietemese food.

Batch Bakehouse

A large bakery where you can get a wide array of items. I love the mixer outside with the bowl filled with flowers in the summer, adding some beauty to the storefront.

Mickey’s Tavern

Willy St. ends with another castle-like building, complete with turret and flag on top.

Brew and Grow

If you would rather buy your alcohol, Star Liquor has a great selection.

Across the street from Mickey’s. Get hydroponic growing supplies here and home brewing equipment here.

This concludes our visit to this charming and friendly street in Madison.  We hope you had as much fun as we have!

The Willy Street Fair-Summer’s Last Hurrah!


3rd Weekend in September

Willy St Fair 2013100_5740

This is the 4th and  last festival of the summer in this near-east side part of Madison. It’s sponsored by Commonwealth Development and Wilmar Neighborhood Center.

Many consider this one to be the best,including myself. It occupies several blocks of Williamson (Willy) street and is full of vendors, three stages and lots of happy people.  My first one was in 1997, two months after I met my husband.

It begins on Saturday, occupying one block. Sunday is the big day, three blocks of fun!  The parade is at 11:00, come watch last year’s parade.

You need to get a t-shirt too, it supports the fair and neighborhood. They are made by Wildwood Productions.

Willy Street Fair shirts

The balloon arch over the street is a staple at the fair. It’s the gateway to fun!

Willy St. Fair Balloon Arch

Interesting people and dogs.

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And don’t forget the many creative costumes!  “Fish Guy”

Willy St. Fair 2009 fish costumespace alien

This was in 2011, we were all caught up in the fantasy of the moment.  This character pretended to “capture” this girl. Surprised mom below.

Willy Street Fair 2011 costumes

Willy St. Fair 2011 girl back with mom

Sunday is the big parade, even more costumes and it feels like Mardi Gras!  Jim Wildeman’s Bubble Mobile is a staple at the fair also. And the Wacky Wheeler. Here is some more coverage of the 2012 Fair.

BubblemobileJim Wildeman's Bubblemobile

Wacky Wheeler Willy Street Fair

Fat Pinky Glass puts on an impressive glass-blowing demo while a large crowd looks on.

glass blowing

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We went to the fair this year on a Sunday.  Sunday is our favorite day to go because of the exciting parade.  Participants include business on the street, along with regular people just wanting to be part of it all! You can watch the parade below. And yes, “Fish Guy” was in it, asking for worms 🙂

 

After the parade we enjoyed the entertainment up and down Willy St.  This year there was also a biggest pumpkin/watermelon competition.  The Bubble Mobile® always has a throng of people around it. It is the only day out of the whole year we see this magnificent car! See this and more in the video below.

I barely scratched the surface of all the fun at this fair.   Lots of live music also with three stages on Sunday, one on Saturday. To really end summer right, this the fair to go to!