New: Geneva Lake app, Shake Rag classes, APT shows


One of the prettiest waterfront walks in Wisconsin is the 21 miles around Geneva Lake, and now a new, free phone app helps explain what to expect and where as you hoof it.

About 85 percent of houses surrounding the lake are summer homes, and more are mansions than simple cottages. All lakefront property owners are required to maintain shoreline access for the public, and that is unusual nationwide, especially for a lake this size (5,400 acres).

Download the phone app at to determine whether a Wrigley (as in chewing gum), Swift (as in meat packing) or Maytag (as in washing machines) estate is nearby. The app explains lakeshore path highlights, architectural styles, the location of public restrooms and water fountains.

Not interested in doing a lap around the lake? Contact Lake Geneva Cruise Line for info about where and when to catch a boat ride back to downtown Lake Geneva.

End up at the lakefront restaurant of Geneva Inn, also near downtown, for an unblemished sunset view.

Around the lake is a mix of walking surfaces, scenery and vibes. “Some homes have benches and waste cans” to accommodate walkers, notes Joe Tominaro, Geneva Inn marketing manager. Others have security cameras and “no trespassing” signs,” to keep passersby in line, but at least one friendly dog may be at work as a greeter.

Fireworks, by the way, happen at Grand Geneva Resort and Spa, near Lake Geneva, every Sunday until Labor Day. The show starts around 9:30 p.m.

Shake Rag Alley Center for the Arts, Mineral Point, hits its full stride in July, when more than 50 art/craft classes are offered. Prices depend on workshop length and type of materials involved.

The lineup includes the annual Midwest Woodlanders Gathering, July 12-15, described as a summer camp for adults. Projects often are made with rustic materials found in nature: twigs to reeds, clay to fiber. The cost is $110 per day, plus fees for workshop materials.

What else makes summer interesting?

A new, outdoor American Players Theatre season began this month with performances of Shakespeare’s comedic “As You Like It” and the racism-apartheid drama “Blood Knot” by Athol Fugard of South Africa.

Ticket prices start at $56; cost depends on day and time of show.

Open at Milwaukee County Zoo is a new Otter Passage outdoor exhibit that shows off the antics of three female river otters (Emerald, Clover and Shamrock). The animal is native to North America and able to stay outdoors all year.

The otters have access to two pools, a splash pad and river area with moving water and 15-foot-long slide. For visitors, there is an underwater viewing area and ways to watch zoo keepers interact with the otters.

The zoo also has introduced a new West Entrance admissions, concessions and merchandise area.

No part of the world has more Frank Lloyd Wright buildings than Chicagoland, and tours are plentiful during this time of year.

The architect spent the first 20 years of his career in this area, developing his signature Prairie style of architecture. Guided tours by foot, bike and bus are possible, lasting one hour to all day. Prices start at $12.

Some folks go to the bar and toss darts. Others go to throw axes. Open as of this month in Milwaukee is AXE MKE, on the city’s east side.

Participants sign a waiver and go through an orientation to get a handle on it. Don’t worry: Each throwing area has a safety cage, barkeeps say online, and it’s fine to just watch from the bar.

For the uninitiated, this opens a whole new world of questions. Examples: Can you bring your own axe? (No.) Can you bring a picture to tack onto the target? (Yes, if the photo is not of a human being. Clarification: A photo of a human is OK, providing that person is with you to offer consent.)

Groups can reserve an indoor throwing lane for 90 minutes. Walk-ins get one hour, based on availability. Wear closed-toe shoes. Ax-throwing cost starts at $20 per person.

This year’s Lumberjack World Championships are July 19-21 in Hayward, and more than 100 people from around the world will compete for $55,000 in prize money.

The 21 events include team relays that involve pole climbing, boom running, single-buck sawing and a standing chop. Competition happens at the Lumberjack Bowl.

A three-day, general admission pass is $60 (less for children, senior citizens). One-day passes are sold too.

In Eau Claire, the annual Chalk Art Festival colors sidewalks at the campus mall of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire on July 28. Artists work as spectators watch; expect involvement from a wide swath of ages and artistic abilities.

Add music, food vendors and diversions, including a place for children to create sidewalk art. Admission to the 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. event is free.

Want to participate as an artist? Go to

Opening in July at East Towne Mall in Madison is Flix Brewhouse, whose 10 enterprises nationwide are dubbed as “the world’s only first-run cinema-eatery-microbrewery,” featuring “chef-inspired cuisine.”

That means recliners with pull-out tables, homebrewing seminars and competitions, meals with beer pairings and beer tasting events that feature beer brewed inhouse or at other craft breweries.