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Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine

Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine

Sesquicentennial logo courtesy of Wisconsin Sesquicentennial Commission.

June 1998

Wisconsin Traveler

Enjoy Wisconsin's Sesquicentennial.

Sure, it may be difficult to pronounce, but that's not an excuse for ignoring Wisconsin's 150th year of statehood. Our Sesquicentennial Year is a milestone worth noting, and you'll find a myriad of ways to mark the event this month.

Canoes figure prominently in several sesquicentennial celebrations, with good reason. Once the primary method of transport for Native Americans, voyageurs and the settlers that followed, the canoe is a swift, sleek and silent reminder of the passage not only of distance, but of time.

Two 25-foot voyageur canoes will ply the Wisconsin River from June 13-20 and the Fox River from June 29-July 12. The big canoes will stop off at riverside communities, where DNR naturalists and other experts will relate the area's natural and social history. You're welcome to paddle your own canoe and keep the modern-day voyageurs company on the water routes that run deep in Wisconsin's past.

Fountain City and Merrick State Park host Buffalo County's big sesquicentennial bash on June 6.

Be there when Johnny Comes Marching Home in Fountain City.

© Doug Alft
Be there when Johnny Comes Marching Home in Fountain City. © Doug Alft

During the day, witness a Civil War reenactment complete with a cavalry charge and firing cannon, and enjoy the lively motion, color and music of a Native American powwow.

Come evening, a torchlight canoe parade will drift down the Mississippi River into the mists and myths of history. (608)685-6206.

Let the sight of that evening flotilla spur your curiosity. At the Point Basse Pioneer Festival in Nekoosa on June 13 & 14, you'll see how canoes are built by hand as trade- and craftspeople demonstrate the essential skills of bygone days. Performances by Czech dancers and folk musicians recall the people of many different ethnic groups who sank old roots in a new state. 1-800-554-4484.

Off-water transport was equally important in Wisconsin's development. To acknowledge that fact, a Wagon Train will stop in Brandon, Fond du Lac County to dedicate a marker at the original Military Road, the route that once linked the frontier to the civilized world. On June 10 & 11, the thirty covered wagons will camp at Gallaway House and Village, and Ol' Cookie will prepare the best beans, bacon and biscuits this side of Milwaukee for an authentic pioneer supper. The wagon train also will stop at other locations; call (920) 921-7984 for details.

The Fond du Lac Symphonic Band honors the state's sesquicentennial – and its own centennial – with a performance on June 10th in Buttermilk Creek Park. The Buttermilk Festival Concert will feature period costumes and music from the early 1900s. (920) 937-9123.

See more than 150 works of homespun, handcrafted beauty when the Wisconsin Folk Art: A Sesquicentennial Celebration traveling exhibit opens on June 23 at the State Historical Museum in Madison.

A dancer clad in a traditional Native American "jingle" dress prepares to take part in a powwow.

© Ray Miller
A dancer clad in a traditional Native American 'jingle' dress prepares to take part in a powwow. © Ray Miller

Baskets and quilts will be on display, of course, but you'll also discover examples of lesser-known arts such as wheat weaving. The exhibit will be in Madison until November 8. (608) 264-6566.

Finally, to wrap up June with a big "Happy Anniversary, Wisconsin!" park yourself on Highway 27, two miles north of Cadott on Wednesday, June 24. There you, your family and friends can witness the historic ribbon-cutting for the geological benchmark sign denoting Cadott as the halfway point between the Equator and the North Pole. (715) 289-3365.

Take a lot of snapshots. Of such moments grand and small are a family's – and a state's – history made.