When my family moved to this great state fifteen years ago, I knew there was a certain embracing of Wisconsin culture that was going to need to take place. We would no longer be able to root for the Cubbies, for instance, but would instead have to switch our baseball allegiances Bernie the Brewer's way. I'd have to accept that my kids would grow up sporting tri-cornered, foam yellow hats riddled with holes whenever the Green Bay Packers appeared in the playoffs.
I have since come to understand that fish boils are a culinary delight, as opposed to a skin condition. And I acknowledge that being a convert to all things Dairy State requires I fully embrace the squeak of a cheese curd.
But perhaps most importantly, my family now readily worships the unofficial (perhaps it's official?) sausage of Wisconsin. And we have found there is no better way to pay homage to the mighty bratwurst than to make pilgrimage to at least one of Madison's many festivals dedicated to its existence over Memorial Day weekend.
This year we'll plan to kick off our quest for the perfect (and politically correct) sausage with a visit to the third annual People's Bratfest on May 25 on Library Mall. Presented by the Autonomous Solidarity Organization, the People's Bratfest is proud to offer "Brats for people, not for profit.". The family-friendly event (alcohol-free) supports local businesses and family farms and claims to be the only Bratfest in Madison where 100% of the proceeds go to local charities. And with both organic meat brats from Stoddard's in Cottage Grove (as well as vegan options for the meat -free), pretzel rolls, the Forward Marching Band and the Truly Remarkable Loon, there is something for everyone at the experience.
And while you must be 18 or older (or come with a legal guardian), moms and dads can take in the Wurst Times Festival on May 26 at the High Noon Saloon and The Brass Ring. Starting at 11 a.m., this celebration of Madison music (and brats, of course) boasts over thirty bands on three different stages. The bratwurst ($3 or 2 for $5) should be delicious and is locally sourced from New Glarus' Hoesly Meats. And you can also feel good about the fact that the suggested donation of $10 (or non-perishable food items) will be given to the Second Harvest Foodbank or used to buy musical instruments for Madison Metropolitan School District kids. It wouldn't be "wurst weekend" though without a swing by the World's Largest Bratfest, taking place all weekend long at Willow Island at the Alliant Energy Center. With over 3 million brats sold (often by celebrity cashiers) since its inception, the granddaddy of all Bratfests has also helped to raise over a million dollars for local charities since 1983. That's a lot of ketchup, mustard and outreach to the community.
The event also takes the "Fest" part of its name quite seriously, as there is a lot more to do than scarf down sausages. Families can scale the rock-climbing wall, enjoy carnival rides at Mr. Ed's Magical Midway and ogle that motorized shrine to meat in a bun, the Oscar Mayer Weinermobile. There is also a Sunday evening fireworks display and the chance to participate in either 5k or 10k run/walks (a pretty good idea after all those brats).
So let the battle of the Bratfests begin. Because there is nothing like sampling quite a few wursts to make you feel like you're getting the very best Wisco culture has to offer.comments powered by Disqus
The recent shift in the weather is just another sign that autumn is fast approaching. That means one of my favorite activities is just around the corner -- apple picking. My husband and I have been picking apples every fall since before our kids were born.
I have a lot of questions about what to put on my eight-month-olds' plates -- and, if I'm honest, a deep and abiding fear of putting the wrong thing there. Did I start them on solid foods at the right time? What's the deal with baby-led weaning -- how much self-feeding should they be doing? At what age should I give them potential allergens like shellfish or nut products?
Lily the potbellied pig arrived at Heartland Farm Sanctuary blind, lethargic and too overweight to walk. The children of Heartland's summer day camp program took it upon themselves to put the curl back in her tail.
Is it just me or does each summer seem to go by quicker than the last? The end of summer is upon us and for many families this means the start of a new school year.
This past week, on the way to the grocery store, my daughter asked what I believed she thought would be a innocuous question, "Mom, when are we going back-to-school shopping?"
Volunteering with the Young Writers Summer Camp this past week really helped me to remember how utterly creative kids can be when encouraged to come up with their own ideas and use their own words.
This past week I gleefully accepted an offer for new job on the UW-Madison campus. My kids are getting are older and I guess I've felt for a while now that it was time to figure out what would be next for me on the professional front.
"Kids spend so much time in and around school, it's the only place where some have a chance to develop an appreciation for a healthy lifestyle," says Katie Hensel, founder and executive director of Tri 4 Schools.
"I'm envious, mom," said my twelve-year-old daughter as she hopped in the car after theater camp last week. "All the other kids in my group seem to really like, and to be really good at, singing, dancing and acting. But I think all those things are just okay."
"People are looking to book space here all the time," says Remy Fernández-O'Brien, communications and facilities coordinator for the Lussier Community Education Center, a private, nonprofit community center on Madison's west side. "They want to throw their child's first birthday party here or hold a Girl Scout meeting. We're really busy year-round, but it's especially lively here in the summer."
Last week, in response to the county-wide Sleep Safe, Sleep Well public health campaign that encourages parents to "share the room, not the bed" with their sleeping infants, Isthmus contributor Ruth Conniff penned a lovely opinion piece in defense of bed sharing entitled "Confessions of a Co-Sleeper."
As much as I'd like to believe there is latent genius in my daughter's early finger paintings, I'm pretty sure her works are not distinguishable from those created by the pointer fingers and pinkies of thousands of other children from across the world.
Seeing Romeo and Juliet this past weekend was a definite reminder that I need to prepare for something that might resemble a (near) West Side Story around our place pretty soon.
All during childhood, we calmly tell our kids they don't need to be afraid of the dark, thunder or the monster under the bed. But it's pretty hard to keep your parental cool when your kid is about to embark on the one thing that terrifies you. I knew the problem wasn't really with him. It was with me.
Last January, when temperatures dipped below minus 30 and most people between the ages of 16 and 24 did anything to stay inside, a small yet sturdy group of at-risk teenage boys and young men stacked wood and managed controlled burns at Festge County Park near Cross Plains. Five months later, following a temperature swing of more than 100 degrees, Isthmus found some of those same guys removing invasive honeysuckle and buckthorn at Lake View Hill County Park on Madison's north side.
The first week of summer break at our place usually comes and goes without incident. At times, one could argue, it even verges on pleasant. I have no school lunches to pack and the kids have no 7 a.m. buses to catch.
Have you tried getting anywhere on either Verona Road or East Johnson lately? I'm pretty sure a six-month old could crawl to Fitchburg, or across the isthmus, in less time that it takes me to drive there these days.
As soon as the door closed behind him, I poured myself a cup of the coffee he had made and took a moment to let the enormity of what just happened sink in. My son was ready that morning despite my inability to properly set an alarm clock. My kid was ready that morning without nudging, cajoling, or reminding. He was ready, even when I wasn't.
For the past 17 years or so (i.e., since I've had kids), I haven't made books the priority in my life I know they should be. It's not that I don't try. Just this past weekend I had the best of intentions of picking up, and even finishing, I am Malala, this year's UW-Madison's Go Big Read pick. But the copy still sits untouched on my nightstand.
The longest day of the year is upon us. For those of you keeping track, the sun will rise at 5:18 a.m. and set at 8:41 p.m. on Saturday, June 21. All that daylight, courtesy of the annual summer solstice, will provide the perfect backdrop for Make Music Madison, a daylong event featuring hours and hours of free performances in nearly every corner of the city.