Send Letter to Editor
What's this? You don't know aebleskiver from booyah? Can't get your olliebollen in line with your mustreipen? Embarrassed to ask for sedsuppe in public? And your skorpa walks with a limpa?*
Fear not, ye of timid twisted tongue. Plan an October weekend to go W.E.S.T, and all your linguistic knots will loosen with one bite of a buttery kolache.
Wisconsin's Ethnic Settlement Trail (W.E.S.T.) follows the paths taken by people who pulled up stakes in far-away places and came to put down roots along the great inland sea of Lake Michigan. The 200-mile route, which traces part of the Lake Michigan Circle Tour and the Historic Green Bay Road, passes through or near scores of communities bearing the proud marks of ethnic heritage.
The names on the mailboxes and above the Main Street shops provide obvious clues to a town's past populace, but the buildings alone tell much about who came before. Immigrants built places of worship in Waukesha County's 16 original townships just like those they left behind in the British Isles – St. Alban's Church in Sussex is a good example. The solid stone walls of homes and mills in Cedarburg and Hamilton in Ozaukee County were unmistakably laid by the precise hands of German immigrant masons.
Look to people and food to best reveal who's been where over the years. You'd better buff up your Czech when passing through the Kewaunee County communities of Stangelville and Norman – some residents still tell jokes (and give directions) in the language of the old country. And what do you think the Larsens, Olsens, Jensens and Petersens speak in Denmark, Brown County? Better yet, eat what they eat: Sample medisterpolse and pandekager at a local cafe while scanning the latest edition of The Denmark Press.
While a leisurely W.E.S.Tern tour can be conducted at any time of the year, TRAVELER suggests you take to the trail on October 7 & 8 for W.E.S.T. Fest at Pioneer Village, Ozaukee County. This celebration of Wisconsin's ethnic folk cultures features live performances of folk music and dance, traditional craft demonstrations, and an incredible spread of the foods you cannot pronounce and can't wait to taste. The beautifully restored buildings of Pioneer Village, on County Highway I just south of Fredonia, provide the perfect setting for the event. W.E.S.T. Fest is open from noon to 5 p.m. Admission: $5 adults; $2.50 seniors and students 12-18; $1 children 5-11; $8 family rate.
For a free copy of "A Visitor's Guide to Wisconsin's Ethnic Settlement Trail...200 Miles of Living History," including a map and an ethnic events calendar, call 1-800-432-TRIP.
* If you thought there would be a glossary explaining all the aforementioned ethnic delicacies, forget it. You've got to go WEST and discover them for yourself. Just open your mouth and let the good times rohlik!