Quick takes: Spiders, elephants, magic, more


Milwaukee County Zoo is preparing for the arrival of Belle, which will be the zoo’s third female African elephant.

Belle is 38 years old and moving from Riverbanks Zoo and Garden in South Carolina as that facility makes room for the arrival of a white rhinoceros.

The Milwaukee zoo’s “Adventure Africa” area, a $16.6 million project that opened on 1.6 acres this year, is big enough for five elephants. Only Brittany and Ruth – the same age as Belle – live there now.

“We know how to take care of elephants that are getting along in age, and I think that’s a real service we can provide to these animals, and a responsibility we don’t take lightly,” says Chuck Wikenhauser, zoo director.

“Adventure Africa” was phase one of a $40 million plan to transform the zoo. Now attention moves to improvements for hippo and rhino habitat. milwaukeezoo.org

Seventeen species from around the world star in the “Spiders Alive!” exhibit that opens Oct. 5 at Milwaukee Public Museum.

See how a spider makes venom and silk. Learn how stinging is not a spider’s only self-defense tool. Climb on a spider model that is 50 times larger than real-life size. Understand why spiders are a valuable part of the planet’s web of life.

The show goes on until Jan. 12. Related events include a creepy crawly overnight for children on Nov. 8 and an adults-only night for mystery solving on Oct. 11. mpm.edu

With the arrival of autumn come new reasons to visit Wisconsin Historical Society historic sites. Three quick examples:

Fall Fun on the Farms, Old World Wisconsin, Eagle – Watch or lend a hand as living history re-enactors prepare homes and land for winter. That includes beer brewing, Sept. 14-15; food preservation, Sept. 21-22; other winter preparations, Sept. 28-29; traditional meat butchering, Oct. 5-6; and mini apprenticeships, Oct. 12-13.

Carriage Classic, Villa Louis, Prairie du Chien – Equine experts from throughout the country compete in races with horses that pull old-time carriages.

Great River Road Fall Festival, Stonefield, Cassville – Learn to make a broom, or sorghum. See how much weight antique tractors can pull. Watch and taste food made on a wood-burning stove.

For more about these and other events at state historic sites: wisconsinhistory.org/sites.

Illusionist Tristan Crist has moved his theater to a new location in Lake Geneva. The magician has tripled audience capacity, relocating from a 50-seat theater downtown to a 5,000-square-foot building at 100 N. Edwards Blvd.

Tristan Crist Magic Theatre shows last one hour and are family-friendly in content. Expect levitation and the unexplainable appearance of a real helicopter. lakegenevamagic.com

Want to hit the road but leave the driving to somebody else? See what’s new with Van Galder Tour and Travel during a travel show at the Janesville Holiday Inn Express from 5:30-7 p.m. Oct. 8.

The company will discuss trips and itineraries for 2020. Attendees get access to special discounts. Admission is free but reservations are necessary; call 800-747-7407. Upcoming trips are online too and can be booked at tours. vangalderbus.com

Now Playing is the name of a new seasonal beer series introduced by Lowlands Brewing Collaborative. Beer sales benefit Milwaukee Film, a year-round cinematic organization that operates the historic Oriental Theatre.

Lowlands restaurants in the Milwaukee area and Madison are releasing these brews in a rotation that involves Good City Brewing in Milwaukee, Central Waters in Amherst and two breweries in Belgium, Van Steenberge and The Musketeers.

The first release is Milwaukee Film Oktoberfest, and the nonprofit gets $1 for each tap sold, until the group’s annual film festival (Oct. 17-31) ends.

For more about the beer: lowlandsbrewing.com. For more about the restaurants: lowlandsgroup.com.

The EAA Aviation Museum in Oshkosh hosts a swing music dance, reminiscent of the World War II era, at a hangar decked out in 1940s style from 7-11 p.m. Sept. 28.

Dress for the setting, and don’t sweat the steps: Fred Astaire Dance Studio provides dance lessons. Music is by Ladies Must Swing, Madison.

Prizes go to the best dancers and those wearing the best period attire. Tickets are $75 per couple or $40 per person. eaa.org/septemberswing


Interest in farm-to-table dining with seasonal ingredients doesn’t wane, and Campo di Bella near Mt. Horeb is one place where it happens throughout the year on Saturday nights.

Capacity is reached weeks ahead of time for these five-course, themed meals. Just got word that hearty fall menus are newly posted online.

The 20-acre farm-winery offers a farmstay option too, in a suite above the solar-powered winery. Or, just make the drive for a glass of wine and pretty view on a Friday or Saturday. Wine bar hours are limited. campodibella.org

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland has opened a new exhibit, The Garage, to help you live your rock ’n’ roll dream. Musical instruments – drums, guitars, keyboards – are available to strum or learn to play. There’s a place to jam with others, mixing boards and a way to record your efforts. rockhall.com

Considering a trip south, to savor the changing colors of autumn. At Pere Marquette State Park – facing the Illinois River, 10 miles from the Mississippi River and near Grafton, Ill. – is a 1940s lodge whose core was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps. Same goes for 22 of the park’s stone cabins.

The park’s “Fall into Fall” package for $105 includes lodging, two drink vouchers and two meals (dinner and breakfast) from a select menu. That’s an excellent deal and setting.

On Sept. 22, the 8,000-acre park presents its annual Apple Festival with music, a craft sale and food. pmlodge.net