"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 :)
After a long hard winter, the first thing Madisonians want is a parade, and they get the first one of the year on St. Patrick’s Day. The parade promenades around the Capitol Square and usually lasts about an hour. Here is the 2019 parade, many entries this year.
Our dear friend Vi was in the parade last year, this year it was too cold. She has the best costumes!
After the parade, the fun continued on State Street. At the top of the street is Teddywedgers, where you can pick up a delicious pasty. There is an apartment above where a couple was watching from above. They hammed it up for my camera 🙂
A couple even got married that day, they were getting photos taken.
The fun continues as we head down the street, happy people are enjoying the warm weather (in 2018) and it’s even bringing out the street musicians.
We were hungry for corned beef and cabbage so we looked for a place to get some for lunch. We chose Nick’s on State. They have been there since 1959.
A delicious meal on one of Madison’s favorite holidays, St. Patrick’s Day!
The line was long, but it was a warm night and there was a fire to keep us warm while waiting.
Each year, there is a soundtrack you can listen to as you drive through the park transmitted by a LP (low power) radio station. There are actually two stations now. Tune in to 95.3 FM for the main audio, 95.1 for the Dancing Trees.
There were two wagons continuously going around after getting loaded. The atmosphere was filled with excitement for the upcoming holidays and the kids in the group were so excited!
It’s our turn! Soon, we were on our way, watch the video of the hayride.
I returned on the 25th and drove through on my own. If you want to see the displays without other people around, come early in the morning before dawn. Enjoy the Dancing trees, synchronized to Nutcracker music.
2018 will be the 30th Anniversary of Holiday Fantasy in Lights, I look forward to that! I will do the hayride again, it was so much fun!
Al and I were in Verona, gathering photos for a blog post. We took a look at the businesses and buildings in town and discovered this. The Matts House in Verona, Wisconsin was vacant at that time and deemed an eyesore. It was one of the last historic buildings in town, built in the 1840’s. The only other building that is historic that is left is the Cahoots Bar, a former Stagecoach stop.
In my photo, you could see a sign that the house was for free to anyone who could get rid of it. Thank goodness, nobody took up the offer.
We were shocked to see this and hoped somebody would save the house before possible demolition.
Two years pass. Building Rehabilitation Specialist Troy Rost persuaded the city alders to sell him the house for $1. Troy also restored the Stamm House in Middleton as well. He promised to have the house ready for occupation within two years. Read the article about this development here. Also here.
October 19, 2017
The renovation was well underway at this point, we stopped by to take an interim picture of the house.
We attended a meeting in Verona that day called “What’s Up at the Matts House?” Here is a video of the meeting you can also watch. It outlines the history of the house and showed some renovation photos. Troy Rost himself was the presenter.
The building renovation is finished on schedule. Now, the next task is to find a tenant. The Purple Goose women’s boutique store jumped at the chance to move to this beautiful historical building. This was their building in 2017.
On October 13 of 2018, they reopened in their new building to an enthusiastic crowd. I was able to see it for myself on October 22nd. Very impressive!
This beautiful door is possibly from one of the previous businesses here, they kept it and it looks beautiful!
To the right of the register, step through the doorway for some beauty time at Makeup by Francesca. I am not skilled at all with makeup application. I will come here if I need her help! Francesca Clemente will bring out your best features to look your best, whatever the occasion!
Everyone interested in seeing the Matts House is welcome during business hours at The Purple Goose. The citizens of Verona are grateful this beautiful building was saved for all to enjoy. Thank you, Troy Rost, for taking charge and turning this dream into reality!
Green County Cheese Days in Monroe is back again, and this year I planned on taking the Barn Quilt and DeVoe Dairy Farm Tour. I had not done this before and I was excited! Our guides are Kris Winkler and Lynn Lokken. I went alone since Al couldn’t come with me on Saturday. The tour was sold out with over 60 people filling the bus!
We headed out at 11 AM, Kris and Lynn gave a running commentary during the tour. We saw a great many barn quilts. To do your own tour, you can get the map from the Green County Visitor and Activity Guide. There is a pull-out map in the middle of the publication. You can also see a Google map of the barn quilt locations from the website, Green County Barn Quilts. We saw as many as we could in 2 1/2 hours. Here is a small sample of the quilts we saw.
Kris and Lynn also pointed out several businesses and cheese-making places along the route. The first was Rackow’s Family Sausage with the distinctive pink silo!
This quilt was mentioned but we didn’t see it on the tour. This one was modeled after a scuba diving flag, a sport we participated in together for many years. It’s called, “Live and Let Dive”, #141 on the map.
On the tour, we also got a sneak preview of a brand-new goat and sheep dairy farm that is still in development. It’s called Ms. J and Co. This farm will be able to provide sheep and goat milk on a larger scale to cheese producers in Wisconsin. They are predicted to come online in 2020. It’s possible we may get a tour here at Cheese Days in two years!
We had just recently heard the news that Yerkes Observatory will be closing on October 1st of this year and knew we had to hurry back to take another tour before they ended. The news had just been announced a week or two earlier.
My first visit was actually in 6th grade in February 1977. Here is a picture I took then.
We went together for the first time in 2012. Richard Dreiser has been giving almost all of the tours since 1980, 38 years! Six years later, he said he remembered us and was happy to see us again. He is really nice and we will miss him. He is writing a book though about Yerkes so we look forward to getting that when it’s published.
It wasn’t really crowded since the news only just came out about the closure a week or so earlier. We heard that the tour groups in September were quite large. We could look around the hallway shortly before the tour started.
The back of the hallway was cordoned off, it wasn’t in 2012. Let’s see what is back there.
Richard began by showing some beautiful photos taken by the Yerkes telescope and others in the hallway adjacent to the lobby.
After discussing these photos, we then moved out to the lobby. It is quite beautiful, decorated with terracotta accents, marble floor and a skylight in the ceiling. The light fixtures are original too. The building was officially opened in 1897.
Under the skylight.
Richard pointed out the many features in the decorative artwork of the building in the lobby area. Faces, angels, and owls abound!
We then moved outside, where Richard pointed out the many distinguishing features in the artwork on the columns and above the door. Art is everywhere at this building, something you don’t see anymore.
Then, we went back in and concluded the tour at the big telescope. We could not go up on the platform on this visit.
Yerkes had been visited by many scientists, including Albert Einstein in this group photo taken in the 20’s.
We all got a special treat that most people don’t get to see, the dome rotating (see video at 48:33). He went to the console on the right side of the dome and made the adjustments.
Laurie Kutil 2012
Our tour came to a conclusion 10 minutes later, Richard spent the remaining time answering questions. Went back down the stairs.
Saw the library and stopped in the gift shop.
Our visit concluded here. We are sad this valuable resource is no longer a part of the University in Chicago. However, it may reopen again at later date under new ownership. I will update this post if this happens. We hope Richard will be hired to continue his excellent tours. Meanwhile, enjoy the video of the original tour.
The last time we were in Columbus for July 4th was in 2012 so we decided to go back. The parade started at noon and it was wonderful! It lasted nearly two hours. The Parade Marshalls. (click to enlarge)
Watch it here.
After the parade we headed to Fireman’s Park where all of the festivities were taking place. There was a carnival also, Mr. Ed’s Magical Midways.
The main attraction that drew us here was the First Brigade Band from Watertown. They were in the parade. They are a Civil War-era band, complete with instruments that were played in the 1860’s. We knew about them but never saw them perform before. See them below.
At this point, rain was threatening. The next show was Ballet Folkloriko Mexico. They were also really good, but it began to rain half-way through their performance and they had to cut it short. They had someone also getting video, but they had to stop because of the rain. I held my hat over my camera to keep it dry! You can see my video below.
And that was the conclusion of our July 4th celebration in Columbus. We had a wonderful time here today! Let freedom ring!
Our last old-fashioned picture was in 2008, also on Broadway but not here. It was at Professor Samuel S. Porter’s Old-Time Portraits.
To treat ourselves for our 19th wedding anniversary that occurred the day before, we arranged to get a tintype picture at the famous H.H. Bennett Studio on Broadway in the Wisconsin Dells. Our Photographer was David Rambow, expert in wet-plate photography since 2001. He is also Site Director for Wisconsin Historic Sites under the umbrella of the Wisconsin State Historical Society. We booked it well in advance at the H.H. Bennett website, deposit is $50. From there you can choose your package and complete your payment during your sitting.
We arrived at 10:30 for our 11 AM sitting, ready to be impressed! I had picked out clothing we had that looked sufficiently “period”, late 1800’s. My lace collar that I wore over my blouse was crocheted by my Grandma Tauchen when they were in style in the 1980’s!
Dave greeted us warmly and invited us to the very studio where Bennett made the Dells famous in the 19th and 20th centuries. This is how the backdrop looks in color.
Behind the chairs are head braces to help you hold still while the picture is taken. This is a long exposure photo. The darker the studio, the longer the exposure. Since it was a bright sunny day, it only took 6 seconds.
Photographer Robert Squires was there too and documented our visit. Thanks for the great photo! He got a picture of Dave installing the prepared wet plate into the camera. It takes 3-minutes to get it camera-ready after exposure to the chemicals. There is no going back once it is preparing!
Dave graciously allowed us to shoot video of getting our photo “struck” so we could show everyone how it’s done! See it below.
We had a great time doing this amazing photo, and they said Al looked like a Civil War vet. We were sent a digital copy ahead of the photo that would be sent in the mail to us.
On August 1st we received our photo in the mail. It was varnished to help protect it from scratches. It was beautiful! On the back was David’s info about the photo.
Also some information on how the photo was made.
I already had a frame to put the photo into that looked good with it.
Don’t pass up your opportunity to get a tintype photo taken by David at THE H.H. Bennett Studio!