Mad about Madison
What To Do in Madison Before, During and After the 2001 IJA festival
Those of us who live here are ``Mad about Madison'' but we didn't get our madness from the nearly two million cows with which we share our great state! The madness comes from being surrounded by the sparkling water of five lakes, more than 200 parks, continuous cultural events at the University of Wisconsin Big Ten campus, notable architecture and the ability to find fun in this capital city no matter where you look. In fact, FamilyFun Magazine named Madison one of the ``Best Small Cities for Families'' in its September 2000 issue, joining Outdoor Explorer, Shape and Money magazines, as well as the A&E Network in naming Madison among the top ten best cities for quality of life in the nation!
Why do we make all the cheese and brew the beer you hear about? For our guests! One of Wisconsin's biggest tasks is keeping track of the 1,259,000 (or thereabouts) visitors who cross our borders, and we do it with hospitality and style. Just wait and see!
Are you undecided about a trip to IJA 2001? Here is some information that may change your mind. If you already know you just can't miss the festival, you will be ready to enjoy the ``madness'' and perhaps become a little ``Wild about Wisconsin'' too.
How Will I Get There?
Madison is served directly by several major airlines, a total of more than 80 times per day at the Dane County Regional Airport on the northeast side of the city. Once here, rental cars, courteous drivers of two cab companies or the Madison Metro bus service will deliver you to the festival site in about 15 minutes. Madison Metro offers an unlimited ride VisiTour Pass for just $3 per day.
Airfares to Milwaukee's Mitchell Field and Chicago O'Hare may be significantly cheaper. Milwaukee's airport is served by Badger Bus company, and Chicago by Van Galder Bus Company. Both offer frequent daily service from the airport directly to Madison. Fares and schedules are posted on the companies' respective websites.
Madison is centrally located in southern Wisconsin, a 90-minute drive from Milwaukee, 2½ hours from Chicago and 5 hours from Minneapolis via Interstate 90-94.
Whether your pleasure is music, art, history or architecture, it is all here in Madison.
Check out the Madison Civic Center on State Street which houses the Madison Art Center, as well as the historic Oscar Mayer Theatre, the venue for many nationally touring shows. The UW art collection is housed at the other end of State Street at the Elvehjum Museum of Art.
Music lovers will have the opportunity to choose to attend (along with 20,000 others) a Wednesday evening ``Concert on the Square'' presented by the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra, a highlight of the summer season. Earlier on Wednesday, atop the Monona Terrace, just minutes from the festival site enjoy a noon hour concert that is a weekly summertime event for downtown bureaucrats.
The Frank Lloyd Wright Monona Terrace Convention Center graces the shoreline of Lake Monona, seen just below the capitol dome on the lakeside skyline. Free tours are offered daily. Wright enthusiasts can also take the hour drive west to Spring Green, to visit Taliesin, Wright's estate. Another sample of Frank Lloyd Wright architecture can be found at 2010 Whenona, the Unitarian Universalist Prairie Society Meeting House. Tours can be arranged by calling 608-271-8218.
If you have never been to the nation's capitol you can enjoy the beauty of it's near twin, the Wisconsin State Capitol. Just inches shorter out of respect for its DC sister, several million dollars have been spent over the past ten years refurbishing it to its original historic beauty. A walk around the beautifully landscaped grounds is a must. Free tours are available several times daily.
Museum lovers can feed their passion in Madison with trips to the Wisconsin State Historical Society and Veteran's Museum, both located on the Capitol Square. The Madison Children's Museum at the top of State Street offers many hands on experiences for kids at heart. The UW Campus offers a geology museum, Entomology display and a BioTrek Outreach program.
Indoor, outdoor, east and west, non-juggling family members and shopaholics will not go home empty handed. A major mall anchors both the east and west sides of the city with Hilldale and Westgate malls sandwiched in between. State Street, the pedestrian mall from the UW Campus to the Capitol Square offers a wide variety of shops, bookstores and galleries with plenty of sidewalk café dining and people watching.
For those arriving early, bargains galore may be found during State Street's version of Maxwell Street Days, July 21 22. Other unique and eclectic neighborhood browsing may be done on Williamson Street, Monroe Street and West Johnson Avenue. Thrift shop and antique lovers will not be disappointed with Goodwill Stores, St Vincent DePaul, the Broadway Antiques Mall, Middleton Antiques Mall and Northside Shopping Center Antiques.
Don't miss Saturday's Farmer's Market around the Capitol Square. USA Today listed the Dane County Farmer's Market #2 among the nation's great places to ``go to market'' in 1998. Early arrival, not long after 6am, will guarantee you the first pick of bountiful vegetables, fruits, flowers, baked goods and other delights from the area's finest growers and producers. Arrive after noon and you might be disappointed that many vendors are long sold out. Don't forget your camera.
Cheese, Beer and the Other Food Groups
There will be plenty of cheesehead souvenirs in Madison, but if you want to see first hand how the real thing is made, drive 15 minutes further south of the New Glarus Brewery through the hills of Green County. Here you will find some of the small, family owned and operated factories that have helped produce 35 percent of the nation's cheese. One, Prima Kase, makes the huge wheels of Swiss cheese seen only in pictures and is just one of the factories where tours are offered (call 608-938-4227).
A trip to Wisconsin cannot be complete (if you're 21 or older) without sampling the state's finest. You'll find the big brewers in Milwaukee but Madison offers a connoisseur's choice at dozens of fine establishments, as well as beer expeditions. In the downtown Madison area you will find Angelic Brewing Company on East Johnson Street, just off State Street and the Great Dane Pub & Brewing Company on 123 East Doty Street near the Monona Terrace Convention Center. Drink your bier from a German Stein or glass boot at the Essen Haus on Wilson Street, a few blocks from the Great Dane. All three locations offer delicious food at reasonable prices. Ask the bartender for a ``New Glarus Spotted Cow'' and he won't ask you if you are seeing things. You will find yourself tasting brew from the internationally award winning New Glarus Brewery, located in America's Little Switzerland, New Glarus. A 25-minute drive on Highway 69 to this small community on Saturday afternoon will get you a tour of this microbrewery that brews ``Spotted Cow'' and many other fine beers.
As for the other food groups, whether it is fast food or distinctive dining you desire, Madison can provide many choices to satisfy your hunger. The Alliant Energy Center festival site has fast food and snacks on the premises. A walk a few blocks towards the lake will take you to Jingles Coliseum Bar, 232 E. Olin Ave. where you will find great sandwiches, daily specials and Wisconsin sports memorabilia lining the walls. Badger Bowl, 506 E. Badger Rd., a few blocks south, offers similar fare and you can throw a few balls while you wait. If you are really hungry, travel a few minutes east on Hwy 12 & 18, take the South Towne exit and go left on Broadway to the China One Buffet King. Hundreds of Chinese and American food items for lunch or dinner can be enjoyed for one simple price. For fast food found anywhere, take 12 & 18 east to the Park Street exit, travel north and over six blocks you will find McDonald's, Burger King, Arby's and Taco Bell. Travel 12 & 18 another ½ mile to the Fish Hatchery Road exit, travel north, take an immediate left onto the frontage road to Perkins, Rocky Rocco Pizza and Subway Sandwiches. Don't miss a chance to try a Culver's ``Butter Burger'' and the frozen custard of the day, also located on the frontage road. . .you may find yourself a regular at Culver's. The State Street mall off the capital square will provide you with distinctive dining, ethnic variety, outdoor seating and opportunities for breakfast, lunch and dinner. A little harder to find (ask a native when you get here) but worth the trip are: Mildred's Sandwich Shop, 827 E. Johnson St., ElDorado Grill, 744 Williamson St., The Greenbush Bar, 914 Regent St., La Hacienda, 515 S. Park St., Monty's Blue Plate Diner, 2089 Atwood Ave., Bluephie's, 2701 Monroe St., and Fat Jack's Barbecue, 6207 Monona Dr.
The Great Outdoors
The Greater Madison area is filled with green space and parks of all varieties.
Olbrich Botanical Gardens, lakeside on Monona Drive, is a Madison showplace with acres of specialty gardens including rose, perennial, water, herb, alpine and woodland. The spectacular indoor conservatory offers tropical paradise year round. Admission is always free to the outdoor displays and on Wednesday and Saturday mornings there is no admission fee to the conservatory.
On the UW Madison campus is the intimate Allen Centennial Garden. This student and faculty maintained garden found at the corner of Observatory and Babcock Drives is a beautiful hidden treasure in the City of Madison. The Victorian home on the 2.5 acre site gives it a historic touch. Admission is free.
In the heart of the city is another university affiliated garden, the UW Arboretum, 1,260 acres of nature preserve. Situated close to Lake Wingra, five minutes from the festival site, hiking trails, a nature center and a look at the prairie plants of Wisconsin offer another quiet getaway. Guided public tours are available every weekend.
The Henry Vilas Zoo is a delight for animal lovers of all ages. The Zoological Society and the residents of Dane County have funded major renovations over the past several years including a new primate house and aviary. The Children's Zoo offers many up-close and hands-on animal experiences. Besides the diverse collection of animals admission is free everyday!
Golfers can choose from Odana Hills and Glenway Public city links or the Robert Trent Jones II designed University Ridge Course on County Trunk PD, west of Madison near Verona. Par 3 and mini-golf can be played at George Vitense Golfland, five minutes from the festival site.
It is said that there are more bikes in Madison than cars and Wisconsin supports a well-maintained network of bike trails.
In Madison a favorite of bikers is the Lake Monona Path, a 12-mile loop around the lake that can be accessed directly from the festival site. Other trails go through the UW Arboretum and the UW Campus with many beautiful lake views along the way.
Water, Water, Everywhere!
The Madison lakes, Mendota, Monona, Wingra, Kegonsa and Waubesa can be enjoyed from a number of vantage points. UW Memorial Union Terrace is the favorite of students and residents alike when it comes to enjoying the lake view. Good food, drinks and great company make it a memorable place to relax. Watch the many sailboats of the UW Hoofers Sailing club or hear live music on weekend evenings. Check the local schedule when you arrive. See the lake from the water aboard the Betty Lou cruiser! The Betty Lou will take you past the Governor's Mansion overlooking Lake Mendota or provide you with a stunning view of the Frank Lloyd Wright Monona Terrace on Lake Monona.
On smaller Lake Wingra, next to the Henry Vilas Zoo, there is a public beach (check the weed alert) and lakeside fishing, and you make arrangements for canoe rental at Carl's Paddlin' Canoe and Kayak Center (call 800-386-1299).
On Thursday and Sunday evenings, don't miss the thrills of the Mad City Water Ski Team. Free shows by this award winning team take place on Lake Monona in front of the Monona Terrace with plenty of space for blankets and a picnic supper.
Come Early, Stay Late
If you have a few extra days, consider these unique activities around the Madison area or in other parts of the state:
For those among us who juggle multiple hobbies, Wisconsin is home to a number of attractions that will delight magicians, top spinners, clowns and circus followers.
Circus has its roots in Wisconsin and the State Historical Society has devoted a Museum to remembering the circus tradition here. Travel an hour north of Madison to the Circus World Museum in Baraboo and discover a treasure trove of historical displays, circus wagons, animals and a live Big Top Circus with world-class performers. Circus World Museum hosts the Great Circus Parade in Milwaukee in mid-July and if you arrive early for that event don't miss the International Clown Museum in Milwaukee's Grand Avenue mall.
A 15-minute drive from Circus World will take you to Wisconsin Dells and a 90-minute show at the Rick Wilcox Theatre. Amazing illusions and magic are performed by Rick and Suzan Wilcox at 4pm and 8pm Monday through Saturday, a show too good to be missed. Devoted magic fans may enjoy a two-hour drive north to Appleton, the birthplace of Harry Houdini and the Houdini Historical Center.
Followers of the western performing arts can travel southeast to Elkhorn and Watson's Wild West Museum. Here you can see artifacts from the 1880s displayed in a general store, have a sasparilla and pan for gold! Also nearby is the Spinning Top Exploratory Center in Burlington, northeast of Lake Geneva. Reservations are required to see the collection of more than 2,000 spinning objects and experience a hands-on, 75-minute demonstration of these fascinating toys.
Dane County Fair July 18 22
Held at the Alliant Energy Center just before the juggling festival begins (many jugglers will be in town already), this fair offers an opportunity for you to see cows and a host of other farm animals up close, sample delicious dairy products that make Wisconsin famous and enjoy evening entertainment including a great carnival.
Fiesta Hispana July 21
The Hispanic community celebrates its Heritage at Madison's Warner Park, 1511 Northport Drive on the shores of beautiful Lake Mendota. This north side park will be filled with live music, arts and crafts, Latino cuisine and children's activities. Wouldn't hurt to have a few jugglers show up!
EAA Air Venture July 24 30
The EAA Air Venture is an internationally known air extravaganza held in Oshkosh, WI, a two-hour drive northeast from Madison. This air show attracted 765,000 visitors from around the world last year and during this week it is the busiest airport in the world!
Dickie's Lumberjack World Championships July 27 29
Check out Wisconsin's north woods when professional lumberjacks from around the world compete in speed sawing, chopping, pole climbing and logrolling at the World Championships in Hayward, WI. Amateurs get their chance too. . . if you can do the rola bola. . .log rolling may be for you (call 715-634-2484).
UFO Days July 27 - 29
UFO sightings in the 70's bring believers to Elmwood, WI, in hopes of attracting extraterrestrial guests. Located three hours drive northwest from Madison near Eau Claire, the scheduled parade and other events provide several opportunities for alien sightings.
Need a day to rest those weary, juggling arms? There are several unique destinations within an hour of Madison that can make your trip to the Madison area and the IJA festival even more memorable.
For a mini-trip to Switzerland travel to New Glarus, just a 25-minute drive south of Madison on Highway 69. This Swiss community established in 1845 has preserved the charm of the Old Country through its Swiss architecture, ethnic restaurants and shops, and historical museums, and you may even hear the Swiss German dialect of the natives being spoken on the streets. New Glarus is also the starting point for the Sugar River Bike Trail. A free visitor's guide can be requested by calling 800-527-6838.
The Norwegians were also prominent immigrants to the area. Take the Trollway (Hwy 12 & 18 west) to the Village of Mount Horeb. Little Norway is an 1856 homestead featuring Norwegian artifacts brought by the settlers to this beautiful valley. Also of interest is the Cave of the Mounds. Underground tours to see the beautiful formations in year round 55-degree temps can be a cool summer activity. Don't miss the Mount Horeb Mustard Museum, a gourmet delight on Main Street where thousands of varieties of mustard can be sampled before purchase.
Theatre lovers should take advantage of the opportunity to travel to rural Spring Green to see a performance of the American Player's Theatre. Shakespeare at it's best, professionally performed under the stars, requires tickets well in advance.
When thinking of Wisconsin, many travelers think of the Wisconsin Dells. Natural beauty, rock formations, beautiful lakes plus family attractions such as waterparks and theme parks abound in the area. Gamblers can find a mini-Vegas at the Ho-Chunk nation's grand casino, which is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The Tommy Bartlett Water Show has been a mainstay of entertainment in the area and most often includes a juggling act and other variety acts in addition to the featured water ski team expert demonstrations.
A day outdoors can be best spent at Devil's Lake State Park near Baraboo, close to both the Dells and Circus World Museum. This park formed by glaciers offers miles of hiking and rock climbing for those so inclined on the rocky bluffs high above the beautiful lake. There is a sandy beach for swimming, and boat, canoe and snorkeling equipment rentals and scuba diving lessons can also be arranged. Ask for special directions to Parfrey's Glen, where a hike through the woods will take you to a hidden waterfall.
So there is no excuse. . .we know jugglers will have plenty to do and now you know the rest of the family will too! Get ``Mad about Madison'' in 2001!!
Questions? Contact Ann Marie Ott email@example.com
Special thanks go to David Groth, Coeur d' Alene Juggling Club, for his contributions to this article.