Birthdays and anniversaries generate fanfare, especially when the number of years ends with a zero. It’s that way for events and attractions as well as individuals and their relationships. Here are 10 reasons why 2017 will be a good reason to party in Wisconsin.
June 8 marks the 150th anniversary of Frank Lloyd Wright’s birth in Richland Center, and that means exhibits, tours and other events at the legendary architect’s most iconic buildings. The annual Wright and Like Tour ventures into private and public buildings in Milwaukee on June 3. Key Wright structures nationwide are being considered as a World Heritage Site, and a UNESCO panel convenes in Poland to deliberate on the nomination in July. taliesinpreservation.org (click on “engage”), 877-588-7900; flwright.org, 312-994-4000; wrightinwisconsin.org, 608-287-0339
Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Company, Chippewa Falls, marks its 150th anniversary of beer brewing by collaborating with Germany’s Hofbrau brewery in Munich to create the amber Anniversary Lager, making its debut in April. Look for a major Leinie’s anniversary celebration at Northern Wisconsin State Fairgrounds on Aug. 11-12, to coincide with Pure Water Days in Chippewa Falls. leinie.com, 888-534-6437
Wisconsin Public Radio is more than just another station on your dial, especially this year. Consider Jack Mitchell’s newly released book, “Wisconsin on the Air: 100 Years of Public Broadcasting in the State that Invented It” ($25, Wisconsin Historical Society Press). WPR’s first broadcast was in 1917, and the Centennial Celebration continues all year. Tom Ashbrook from “On Point” is at the Latino Arts Center in Milwaukee at 7 p.m. April 20, live broadcasts of “Says You!” start at 7 p.m. May 6 at the Lismore Hotel in Eau Claire and 1:30 p.m. May 7 at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse Student Union. Head to Rothschild Pavilion, Rothschild, for a multi-artist “Simply Folk” concert at 7 p.m. June 1. wprcentennial.org, 800-747-7444
Construction of the Wisconsin State Capitol as we know it today was finished 100 years ago and cost $7.2 million. So keep that in mind and pop in for a gander the next time you take a lap around the statehouse for a Saturday farmers’ market or another Capitol Square event in downtown Madison. Building tours are free, and reservations not necessary for groups of under 10. tours.wisconsin.gov, 608-266-0382
Washington Park Velodrome, Kenosha, turns 90 this year. The steep-banked, curved and 333-meter track for bicycle racing is the oldest in the nation and the only velodrome in Wisconsin. Opening night for racing is May 16; kids as young as 3 years old ride on Monday nights; Tuesdays are for serious racers from throughout the Midwest. Watch for free from a hillside seat. Speeds reach 35 to 40 mph, and competitors have included national and Olympic champs. kenoshavelodrome.com, 262-653-4080
The 1,470-seat Grand Theater, arts anchor for downtown Wausau, is 90 years old this year. What was built in a Classic Revival style has been restored, upgraded and expanded. Pollstar, which covers entertainment bookings worldwide, ranked the Grand among the top 200 theaters in the world because of the number of tickets sold to touring shows. Expect events for next season to be announced in early summer. grandtheater.org, 715-842-0988
The 50th Summerfest in Milwaukee is June 28 to July 2 and July 4-9 on the city’s lakefront festival grounds. The 800-plus acts on 11 stages and 75 acres make it the world’s largest music festival, and that’s a far cry from its beginning at 35 locations spread throughout the city. Headliners in 2017 include Luke Bryan on June 29, Zac Brown Band on July 1 and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers on July 5-6. summerfest.com, 414-273-2680
Winnecone hosts Sovereign State Days on July 21-23, a nod to when the community declared its independence from Wisconsin 50 years ago. The separation, all in good fun, lasted one day and happened after the town was left off of the state’s highway map by mistake. Expect a parade on Main Street, artisan fair in Marble Park, music and food to take over the village, population 2,350. sovereignstateofwinneconne.com
The Apollo space program’s 50th anniversary is this year, and at least five astronauts from the Apollo era (Frank Borman, Walt Cunningham, Fred Haise, Jim Lovell and Al Worden) make their way to Oshkosh for a July 28 commemoration and reunion during the annual Experimental Aircraft Association’s AirVenture fly-in. eaa.org, 920-426-4800
American Serb Hall: Up to 2,000 people are served at one time in the cavernous community center, whose fish fry is described as the world’s largest. It began 50 years ago and involves 2,000 pounds of fish per week, served to sit-down diners and carryout customers via walk-up and drive-up windows. On the menu, besides traditional Friday fare, is baked cod topped with a proprietary sauce that contains Serbian spices. Fixin’s – slaw, potatoes, bread – are served family-style. serbhall.com, 414-545-6030
What milestone anniversaries with public celebrations am I missing? Share what you know, and I’ll gladly help spread the word.