Monthly Archives: June 2011

June 23, 2011

Wisconsin’s Tastiest Annual Events

Don’t miss these flavorful festivals and celebrations

Looking for an unforgettable getaway? Pick one of these unusual upcoming annual events and get a taste of Wisconsin fun. Savor ribs made by someone named Pigfoot. See a giant pot roast paraded down Main Street. Meet the Mustard Queen. Be on hand for the tapping of the “Golden Keg.” If you haven’t run away yet, these one-of-a-kind food-related events might just be for you.

Pig in the Pines Ribfest

The Pig in the Pines Ribfest takes place August 4-6 in St. Germain in Vilas County. The three-day event combines great barbeque and live music in a beautiful Northwoods setting. Over the years, it has grown to become one of the most popular annual events in northern Wisconsin.

The chefs at Pig in the Pines Ribfest are serious about their ribs. The award-winning vendors sport boastful names, such as Butch’s Smack Your Lips BBQ, Pigfoot and the Carolina Rib King. You’ll also find other festival favorites, such as deep-fried cheese curds, corn-on-the-cob and funnel cakes. This is definitely not a place for vegetarians or folks looking for health food.

Musical entertainment for the 2011 event includes Country, R&B, and Rock, including Da Yoopers and the former Monkees lead singer, Mickey Dolenz.

National Mustard Museum

On August 6, the good folks of Middleton spend the day celebrating a yellow condiment. National Mustard Day is a chance for mustard-lovers and the curious to gather for a day filled with food, live music and, of course, mustard.

National Mustard Day takes place at the National Mustard Museum in downtown Middleton. Activities vary from year to year, but last year’s celebration included free hot dogs, a magic show, games, fresh-grilled brats and appearances by the Oscar Mayer Weinermobile and one of the famous Miller Park Racing Sausages. You don’t even have to like mustard to enjoy this light-hearted and zany event.


If you happened to drive into Minocqua in Oneida County on the last Saturday in September, you might be a little shocked. You would be greeted by the sight of people dressed up as cows. Some of these cows would probably be pulling around beef roasts in little wagons or on decorated carts. You might think you’re in the Twilight Zone, but you’ve actually just stumbled onto Beef-a-Rama.

On September 24, Minocqua celebrates the most beloved of American meats. Beef-a-Rama features a day full of activities, including cook-offs, live music, a Parade of Beef and the Rump Roast Run. The day’s festivities end with beef sandwiches at 3pm at Torpy Park. This is another event that vegetarians will probably want to skip.


On October 1, Black River Falls celebrates its German heritage with the annual Oktoberfest. This quintessential Wisconsin event offers two things that everyone can rally around: food and beer. Festival attendees will be able to taste German favorites and quaff Sand Creek Brewery’s outstanding brews. It’s the perfect flavor combination for a crisp fall day.

But Oktoberfest offers much more than great food and beer. There will be a car and motorcycle show, children’s games, face painting, the election of the Oktoberfest King & Queen, a pumpkin decorating contest, the ceremonial tapping of the “Golden Keg” and tours of the Sand Creek Brewery.


June 22, 2011

Become a Paddling Pro

Nine tips for your first canoeing and kayaking trips

It should be no surprise that paddling is one of the fastest growing outdoor activities in the U.S. Paddling a canoe or kayak is a great way to get in shape, enjoy nature and spend time with family and friends. The environmentally-friendly, quiet nature of paddling makes it attractive to people who want to see birds and wildlife up close. Paddling is easy on the joints and, when compared to power boating, easy on the wallet.

To help you make your first trips on the water fun, safe and memorable, here are nine tips for beginning paddlers.

  • Start on flat water – In paddling parlance, flat water means lakes and ponds—anywhere there is an absence of current. Flat water is everywhere in Wisconsin. Choose from one of 15,000 lakes or just put your boat in your local city park lagoon. Once you’ve gotten the hang of paddling on flat water paddling, you’ll be ready to move on to slow-moving rivers.
  • Renting a boat is a good idea – Start out your paddling career by renting canoes and kayaks. Virtually every outfitter who rents boats also rents lifejackets and paddles. This allows you to try paddling without making any significant equipment purchase. Try to rent canoes and kayaks in many different styles and materials. This experience will be invaluable when it comes time to purchase your own boat.
  • Don’t be an equipment snob – When you’re a paddling beginner, an aluminum canoe is going to be just as much fun as one made of Kevlar. After you’ve been paddling for a few seasons, you’ll have enough experience and knowledge to make some intelligent equipment upgrades.
  • Research your rivers – Wisconsin has dozens of rivers suitable for a paddling adventure. Before you head out on your expedition, research the stretch of river you’re going to be paddling. Only a handful of rivers in Wisconsin are served by outfitters who can provide shuttle services. Where shuttle service isn’t available, you’ll have to plan on bringing two cars—one to park at the put-in and the other at the take-out. Make sure there are no dangerous rapids or impassible sections on the stretch of river you will be paddling. A little research before the trip can save on a lot of headaches later.
  • Take a lot of practice trips – Before you go on a serious river trip or an extended paddling adventure, go on as many smaller trips as you can. Practice putting the boat in the water and taking it out again. If you’re car-topping your boat, make sure you know how to secure the boat to the roof. The goal is to work out all the kinks before you are heading down a wilderness river, many miles from home.
  • Don’t worry about speed – If you really want to go fast, hop on over to the jet ski aisle. Paddling is about smoothness, not speed. In fact, flailing away at the water with your paddle mostly wastes energy. Work on developing a gentle, easy stroke and you’ll get much more out of all of your paddling adventures. Plus, you’ll scare less wildlife.
  • Bring water, sunscreen and bug repellent – You can get dehydrated fast while you’re paddling. The sun’s power to burn is magnified while you’re on the water. And the bugs—well, you’re in bug territory when you’re at water level. Pack wisely and you’ll remember your day of paddling for the scenery and not for the trip to the emergency room.
  • Bring a fishing pole – Canoes and kayaks can get into places no motorboat ever could. They’re also the stealthiest fishing boats available. Just be warned—big fish can actually pull your boat around the lake. So, if you hook into a giant northern pike, you’re going to be in for the ride of your life.
  • Wear a lifejacket – This is the most important tip. Wearing a lifejacket can save your life. If that isn’t enough to get you to wear one, then how about this: wearing a lifejacket can save someone else’s life. That’s right. By wearing a lifejacket, you are much more able to help rescue others. And with a lifejacket on, people that might have to rescue you will have a much easier time. Find a lifejacket that fits you and wear it. Period.
This entry was posted in Enews on Wednesday, June 22, 2011.

June 15, 2011

Getaway Packages

Getaway Package 1:

One-night stay at Courtyard by Marriott ($150 value) in Middleton plus:

Prizes expire August 1, 2012.

Getaway Package 2:

2-night stay at the Black Bear Lodge in Vilas County (St. Germain) for up to 4 people in a 2-bedroom, 2-bath Luxury Lodge Home (Up to $450 value).

Based on availability and manager’s approval. Blackout dates apply. Expires 12/25/12.

Getaway Package 3:

2-night stay in a suite with a gas fireplace, whirlpool and king bed at Timberline Inn in Vilas County (Manitowish Waters) ($340 value) plus:

  • A fresh floral bouquet from Floral Consultants for your arrival at Timberline Inn ($35 value)
  • 1-day boat rental (ski or pontoon boat) from Greer’s Pier ($200 value) Expires 10/1/11
  • Dinner for two at Blue Bayou Inn ($75 value) Expires 10/1/11
  • Breakfast or lunch for two at Café 129 ($25 value)
  • $50 gift certificate for shopping at Up North Wisconsin
  • Dinner for two at Aurora Borealis ($75 value)
  • $25 gift certificate to The Wine Barn
  • 1 large pizza from Rustic Roadhaus. Dine-in and receive 2cocktails or beverages with your large pizza ($25 value)

The prizes are not redeemable for cash. All prizes above expire on 12/19/11, unless specified.

Getaway Package 4:

2-night stay, for up to 4 people, in a Deluxe Lakeview Townhouse at Serenity Bay Resort in Vilas County (St. Germain) plus a $50 gift certificate to the Serenity Bay Gift Shop ($400 value).

Based on availability. May not be redeemed during peak seasons. Expires 8/31/12.

Getaway Package 5:

One-night stay at Hilton Gardens Inn ($150 value) in Middleton plus:

Prizes expire August 1, 2012.

Getaway Package #6

2-night stay at Staybridge Suites in Middleton ($300 value) plus two $25 gift certificates to Claddagh Irish Pub.

Straybridge Suites prize not valid on Wisconsin home football game weekends or during these events: Ironman, Epic UGM or the World Dairy Expo. Must be 21 years of age with valid credit card at check-in. Hotel prize expires 6/30/12. Claddagh Irish Pub prize is not redeemable on St. Patrick’s Day and expires 3/16/12.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized on Wednesday, June 15, 2011.

June 13, 2011

Getting Your Caffeine in the Northwoods

Help – I’m in the Northwoods and I need a coffee NOW!

Once upon a time, if a vacationer in the Northwoods wanted a cup of gourmet coffee, they had to head back home to get it.

Little Creek Coffee Company, Vilas County, WITimes have sure changed. There are a number of coffee shops, cafés and restaurants serving coffee made with high-quality, expertly roasted beans. If you’re on vacation in Vilas or Oneida county and you’re looking for your caffeine fix, you won’t have to go very far.

Located in a beautiful log building overlooking Little Muskie Lake, the Little Creek Coffee Company in Arbor Vitae in Vilas County serves excellent coffee. They also have a full slate of espresso beverages, fresh bakery (made on-site), fresh juice and even wines and microbrews. If you’re hungry, you’ll find breakfast and lunch options, as well. On top of all that, there’s WiFi. If you’re looking for a few of the comforts of urban life while you’re in the Northwoods, this is the place to be.

If you’re vacationing and you need to get on the Internet—but didn’t bring your computer—you should head straight to Coffee Beans Etc Internet Café in Rhinelander. In addition to being a place where you can get on a computer, it’s a great place to get a great cup of coffee. With a long list of delicious drinks, from the coffee-based classics to chai tea, Italian sodas and fruit smoothies, Coffee Beans has a beverage for everyone. They also serve a variety of sandwich wraps, soups and salads, with several vegetarian options. Sink back in a leather couch, sip your coffee and surf the Internet.

Deja Brew Coffee & More in Three Lakes in Oneida County offers a beverage and bakery line-up you’d expect in any big city coffee shop. Locally roasted coffee beans are the foundation for Deja Brew’s coffees, cappuccinos, lattes and mochas. Non-coffee drinks include hot chocolate, hot tea, sodas and even smoothies. Their iced lattes and cappuccinos are perfect for summer. WiFi is available with a purchase. If you’re in Oneida County, don’t miss this cozy little coffee spot.



June 13, 2011

Get Green This Summer!

These two garden centers will take your gardening to the next level

The Bruce Company, Middleton, WIGrowing plants in Wisconsin is a tricky business. Snow can stay late. Springtime is often wet and cold. Overnight frosts are sometimes a problem even in early summer in the Badger State.

Luckily, there are superb garden centers with a mind-boggling variety of plants that can grow in Wisconsin. These two garden centers stand out as the very best in their field. Big and bountifully stocked, you’re guaranteed to leave with your arms full of plants and your thumb blazing green.

Head north and get some gardening inspiration at Hanson’s Garden Village in Rhinelander. This huge garden center is designed to look like a small village, complete with a barn, cabin, church, schoolhouse, blacksmith shop, hotel and general store.

But the whimsical exterior shouldn’t fool you—this is an outstanding garden center and nursery. Nearly everything they sell is grown from seed on-site. They are a recognized leader in growing regional plants. They know just what plants can grow in a cold, northerly climate and how to take care of them. If you’re in the Northwoods and you have even the slightest interest in gardening, don’t miss Hanson’s Garden Village.

The Bruce Company’s Garden Center in Middleton is the largest year-round garden center in the Madison area. They have everything—bulbs, seeds, seedlings, plants, trees, shrubs—anything you can plant in the ground. You’ll find everything you need to create healthy, thriving gardens.

But what really sets the Bruce Company apart is the “other” stuff they sell—the things that really help you enjoy the plants you grow. Choose from a wide variety of patio furniture and accessories. Buy everything you need to build your own backyard pond or water feature. Find bird feeders and plants to help attract more birds to your yard. Check out a full line of Weber grills. If it has to do with enjoying your backyard garden or patio, the Bruce Company has it.