Ever been to Camp Randall on game day in Madison on a crisp clear fall day? Badger fans take their football seriously and their tailgating even seriouser. Marching down State Street with the University Band, grabbing a few moments at each house on Fraternity Row to listen to music or grabbing a bratwurst and then pushing on to the stadium is my idea of a perfect morning. Ever fish the lakes in Wisconsin? Pull a trout out of a hidden stream on a late September afternoon?
Or enjoy a burger at the Anchor Bar in Superior? How about eat a farm-to-fork dinner at L’Etoile? Munch on BBQ at Speedqueen? Have you ever done a side by side taste test in your car of the custards served at Kopp’s and Leon’s? Have you ever cheered on the Bucks at the Bradley Center? What about cow chip tossing in Prairie du Lac? Or dinner at the legendary Sanford’s in Milwaukee? Ever stay in a hotel as regal and as quirky as the dowager Pfister? What about tucking into a meal at Lake Park Bistro or Coquette? Have you ever taken in a game at Lambeau Field and cheered on the Packers? Now how about the Wisconsin State Fair? Or touring Roth Kase, or Carr Valley or any of the other superb cheesemaking houses in the Dairy State? Have you gone to the world class spa and hotel at Kohler? Or taken the family to the Dells for the ultimate kitschy family vacation? Have you eaten at any of ancient German or Eastern European restaurants in Milwaukee like Ratzsch’s, Three Brothers, Old Town or Ilija’s Place? Or how about Usinger’s Sausage factory, ever been there? Eaten Ian’s pizza late on a Saturday night?
Well I have … and none of that (almost) was for this shoot. I did get to showcase a couple of my fave haunts in the show and hang out with friends like Shana Martin, Myron at Chalet Cheese and the D’amatos. Wisconsin is America. Not the America of New York or Los Angeles but the America of Lake Tomahawk, where families gather at night for Legion events, meat raffles, bake sales and yes, snowshoe baseball and everyone knows your business, which is good and bad, but the sense of community and respect runs deeper than anywhere else I have ever spent time … anywhere. I live in Minnesota, moved here 18 years ago from NYC, and with Wisconsin being our next door neighbor and part of the vibrant upper Midwestern 5 state area, I have had more opportunity than most to explore this amazing region … let me tell you, Wisconsin is awesome. In our show we explored the Lumberjack Bowl in Hayward, made limburger in Monroe, ate lutefisk brats and played snowshoe baseball in Lake Tomahawk, water-crossed in Wausau on snowmobiles at 80 mph, ate our way through Madison and Milwaukee, tossed poop in Prairie du Lac and lots more but as always it’s the awesome people I remember most, the little old ladies selling pies at the ballgame to raise money to support our troops overseas, the hundreds of patrons of The Old Fashioned in Madison stuffing themselves on apple pie and cheese curds, the night at Leon’s eating the worlds best custard with Sandy and Angie, the chef at Polonaise … like the crowds scream every Saturday at Camp Randall, “when you’ve said Wisconsin, you’ve said it all.”