Minocqua cooks ham it up with Beef-A-Rama

As the weather cools, out come the pots of chili, the Packer sweatshirts and the long-simmering beef roasts. It is this way in Minocqua, too, especially during the last weekend of September. That is when local retailers pay homage to their customers, and they do it in an unusual way, by cooking almost one ton(…)

Treffert exhibit shows savants’ artistic genius

A new art exhibit in Fond du Lac is a stunning reminder that not everything in life can be explained, and it reinforces the notion that miracles exist. “Windows of Genius: The Prodigious Savant” showcases the work of a dozen people who are both severely disabled and capable of extraordinary creativity. How extraordinary? Christophe Pillault(…)

Research ensues: Michael Fields Ag Institute

The challenge is on, especially Sept. 14-23, to use as much locally grown and sustainable food as possible when eating. The Buy Local, Buy Wisconsin initiative is spreading statewide, and the goal is to spend at least 10 percent of your food budget on edibles produced close to home. “Local” is defined as within 100(…)

Reader mail: on lighthouses, burgers, B&Bs

More lighthouses than any other county in the country: Door County promotional materials included this assertion for years. The state Department of Tourism still mentions this tidbit in its online list of tourism facts. The state Department of Natural Resources’ magazine has used the description in its articles. The Door County Board of Realtors repeats(…)

For Packer fans: ‘Legends of Lombardi’ tour

We are driving through a modest but tidy neighborhood in Green Bay, on Ridge Road, near Lambeau Field. It costs $20 to park here on game day, which might include access to a hot grill for your brats and burgers. “But don’t expect beer,” jokes Jason Ring, our tour guide. He explains that Bart Starr,(…)

Chippewa Valley: Indulge in good food, brew

Chippewa County’s Lake Wissota got a sliver of Hollywood exposure in 1997, when mentioned during the movie “Titanic,” but the 6,300-acre lake didn’t exist until six years after the ship sunk in 1912. We love “gotcha” moments, don’t we? Perhaps the blessing is that the blooper didn’t cause too many interlopers to discover, overrun and(…)

Tasty burger stops: going beyond Seymour

  A 15-year-old boy flattened a few meatballs near the Seymour horseracing track in 1885, and many lives have not been the same since then. Charlie Nagreen from Hortonville gets credit for inventing the hamburger sandwich – made from “Hamburg steak,” which he sold at the fairgrounds for more than 60 years. People in other(…)

Mille’s Italian Sausage: fair vendor since ’32

This is the time of year when Amatore “Matt” Mille of Philadelphia heads home and fires up the charcoal grill. Home is Milwaukee, Matt makes Italian sausages, and his cooking is no little backyard barbecue, although this is a family reunion. Sister Toni comes from New Jersey; brothers Mike and Mark are in Milwaukee. Their(…)

Maribel mystery: How deep do caves go?

It was late winter as I headed toward Door County, in the mood for snaking around on county roads. The ruins appeared unexpectedly, so I braked and shifted into reverse. “Maribell Caves Hotel,” a small sign announced, and only the limestone exterior remained in the otherwise barren field. There were no windows, no roof and(…)

For love of lighthouses: lodging, sculptures

What is it about a lighthouse that is both mysterious and comforting, a beacon for travelers on land as well as water? Depending upon the source, 30 to 50 such structures can be found year-round in Wisconsin. This summer, the numbers have swelled. We have at least tripled our inventory of lighthouses, and all of(…)

Wild about rodeo: kids to pros compete

It all comes down to what you can accomplish in seconds – less than 10 seconds – and success is a matter of instinct and quick reaction, skill and practice, grit and gumption. The lasso misses, your balance slips, an unexpected jolt tosses you head over heels. Any of it can mean lost investment of(…)

Play ball! Old World Wisconsin goes retro

A fevered pitch is: (a) What Francisco Cordero hurls, when he does his job well in the ninth inning. (b) One way to describe the level of interest in Milwaukee baseball this summer. (c) A dandy level of play, full of ginger, with easy tallies and one peach after another. The correct answer is (d)(…)

Tour de France puts Trek, tours on the map

The three-week Tour de France has begun, and that makes Trek Bicycle Corp. an especially appropriate place to visit. It costs nothing to tour the nation’s biggest bicycle manufacturing company, best known for providing the road bikes that helped make Lance Armstrong a seven-time Tour de France winner. Bike frames and wheels are made in(…)

Fountain Prairie owners are farmers, activists

It is John and Dorothy Priske’s 35th wedding anniversary, and they choose to spend a part of the day with me, driving around their farm near Fall River in Columbia County, trying to explain what makes all the work worth it. Their truck bounces down a long swath of newly cut pasture, then veers through(…)

Summerfest at 40: My, how you’ve grown

Young man, when I was your age, gasoline stations didn’t stay open all night – not even when you were driving around Milwaukee. We learned that the hard way, by coasting into a parking lot, below empty and after midnight. It was during Summerfest, a time of year when it was easy to get caught(…)

True grit: Wisconsin rodeos, cowboys

It all comes down to what you can accomplish in seconds – less than 10 seconds – and success is a matter of instinct and quick reaction, skill and practice, grit and gumption. The lasso misses, your balance slips, an unexpected jolt tosses you head over heels. Any of it can mean lost investment of(…)

SATW Traveling Teddy: mascot back in Lena

The school year is over for Beth Zingler’s two dozen kindergartners at Lena Elementary School (Oconto County), and the teacher always selects a lovely place for her final class field trip. It was easy to appreciate and painless to learn while exploring Green Bay Botanical Garden on a sunny spring morning. Not all lessons were(…)

Tour one of state’s biggest dairy farms

This family began farming with 17 cows in 1969 and today works about 4,000 acres to feed their herd of 3,000. Until recently, this was Wisconsin’s largest dairy farm operation. You’d think there would be enough going on at Van Der Geest Dairy, northwest of Wausau, without having a bunch of visitors underfoot, but outsiders(…)

Disney dominates: dizzying array of options

You’ve come a long way, Mickey. First came the cartoon, then the Mouseketeers and the theme park with the souvenir ears. Now the adventures extend to Tokyo and Hong Kong, family-friendly cruises and Costa Rican rainforests. Disney dominates, and the entertainment giant’s work is far from finished, especially in the Orlando area. The conglomerate continues(…)

Disney teaches college students hospitality

Scott Niles of Madison has the Disney Look. So do Jaymie Hammer of Hayward and Marissa Naslund, a St. Louis native who attends Marquette University. They are three of at least 60 students from Wisconsin colleges and tech schools who are spending a few months at a Walt Disney World Resort property, earning both academic(…)

Reader mail: trips worth a gas tank

Time to get reacquainted with the pulse of our readers. Here are excerpts from recent mail: “I am disabled and have no car, but I wish you would write about Itasca State Park, the gateway to the Mississippi River headwaters,” writes George Wagner of Fond du Lac. “I was there in 1973 and 1976. It(…)

Between river, bluffs: pretty Red Wing, Minn.

What surprised us the most, before the uphill hiking began, was the size of the packs that people half our age had strapped onto their back. Barn Bluff seemed steep, and although its height exceeds 340 feet, this wasn’t Everest. It was Minnesota, near the Mississippi River, and within easy view of downtown Red Wing.(…)

People’s choice: 22 Wonders of Wisconsin

Almost 3,500 of you have voted to designate 22 Wonders of Wisconsin. This first-time people’s choice poll has resulted in a fine mix of classic, lesser-known and well-deserved attractions. Drum roll, or polka intro, please. Here are the winners and finalists, the cream of the 244 nominees that made it onto the ballot. Go to(…)