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No one can throw off winter's shackles like a Wisconsin resident. Come spring a torrent of creative energy bursts through all those dark and chill hours, resulting in a bounty of celebratory endeavors and some occasional wacky behavior. Give in to that giddy delight in the year's new warmth and you won't be alone – especially if you attend one or more of the following events.
You're welcome to take a discreet peek and even mention unmentionables when you explore The Underside of Victorians, a look at the petticoats, pantaloons, bustles and sleepwear worn by people who lived in the Victorian age. More lacy than racy, the undergarments will be on display beginning April 23 at the Captain Frederick Pabst Museum, 2000 W. Wisconsin Ave, Milwaukee. Built in 1892, the "Pabst Mansion" – a fine example of Flemish Renaissance Revival architecture – has 37 rooms, 12 baths and 14 fireplaces. (414) 931-0808. Visit: Pabst Mansion
Meanwhile, just down the road a piece, the city of Racine will blush when Downtown Bears It All starting on May 4. More than 150 life-size bears painted and decorated in all kinds of colors and styles will grace Main and Sixth streets with their lumbering yet benevolent presence throughout the summer. (Check out the one that looks like Mike Ditka.)
Bears not your cup of brew? Perhaps a weekend with 500 alpaca – real live ones – might suit you better. During the Great Midwest Alpaca Festival, April 23-25 at the Alliant Energy Center in Madison, you can watch alpacas from more than 100 farms around the country compete for ribbons in various categories. Current or prospective alpaca owners can take part in seminars on nutrition, pasture management, business planning, and fleece. (608) 845-7317. Visit: The Great Midwest Alpaca Festival
First, we tossed it. Then we recycled it. Next, we talked it. And now, it's art. "It" is trash, and you can appreciate it with a new eye when the Trout Museum of Art mounts Trash: An Art Exhibition beginning on April 23. The artists whose works will be displayed strive to transform our everyday discards into works capable of transcending aesthetic boundaries. Will they succeed, or will an empty cereal box remain nothing more than a cardboard coffin for Captain Crunch? Find out at the museum, 111 W. College Ave., Appleton. (920) 733-4089. Visit: Trout Museum of Art
Speaking of the detritus of daily life, it wouldn't be spring without a sale – specifically, an 85-Mile Garage Sale. From April 30 to May 2, residents and businesses in 13 communities around Lake Pepin will set out all manner of household sundries, furniture, appliances, bric-a-brac, clothes, toys, books and more. If you can't find your treasure somewhere along this 85-mile route, friend, it doesn't exist. Visit: 100 Miles of Friends
Cross Death's Door, hike the Jackson Harbor Ridges, walk across the smooth stones of Schoolhouse Beach, climb 184 steps to the top of the lookout tower in Mountain Park and be greeted by stunning Lake Michigan vistas. When you've completed your personal survey of Washington Island – the oldest Icelandic community in the United States – the island's natives and summer folk invite you to munch, dance and laugh the night away at the Island Party. Join in the annual soiree to welcome spring on April 24 at Karly's on Main Road. (920) 847-2655. Catch ferries to the island from Gills Rock on the Door County mainland with the Washington Island Ferry, 1-800-223-2094 or (920) 847-2546. The Island Clipper ferry, (920) 854-2972, operates starting after Memorial Day.