Fall Fun and Frights

If you can believe it, as I look out the window while I type this, there are already leaves on the ground. Which means some of the trees are already orange and red and I feel like I’ve missed out on experiencing the wonderful world of fall in Wisconsin.

Lucky for us in the southern part of the state, the trees haven’t reached full peak yet. Most of the counties around here are at about 5-25% color (you can check out Wisconsin’s Fall Color Report here). Which, you guessed it, means there is a chance you can still hop in your car (retract the roof on your convertible if you’re lucky enough – my moonroof will have to suffice) and take a delightful drive on a scenic route through the state. If you are feeling adventurous, Door County and the La Crosse area are still at about 25% or less color, giving you enough time to view some of our state’s most beautiful areas still this month. You’ve got about a week or two until most of Wisconsin hits peak color, then it’s on to snow… but I won’t get too ahead of myself.

While you are out enjoying the views of the ever-changing leaves, how about getting the rest of your fall fix at some apple orchards and fall themed events throughout the state? Now here’s the deal, I’m going to throw some awesome places to go out there to you, but just remember, some might be a hike to get to (if you’re feeling brave enough) so you’ve been warned!

THE PLACE WITH THE BEST DA** APPLE PIE

image courtesy of elegantfarmer.com

image courtesy of elegantfarmer.com

Let’s start off locally – well, close enough to call it ‘local’ for me.  I grew up about 15 minutes from the smiley barn. Yes, the smiley barn. It resides at The Elegant Farmer, and it’s the coolest thing since sliced bread (I know, I know it’s a barn… but nostalgia). For those who haven’t been to The Elegant Farmer, it’s located in Mukwonago, about a 45-minute drive from the city. This place has just about everything you need to enjoy fall. Let me list off a few things: it’s a bakery, it’s a deli, it’s an apple orchard, there is a corn maze, train rides, pony rides, apple cider donuts and literally a thousand other things to do. But, I saved the best for last – their brown paper bag pie. Here is how I can prove it’s the best pie ever in one sentence: it beat out one of America’s best chefs on Throwndown! with Bobby Flay (go ahead and watch for yourself below).

The pie is basically cooked in a brown paper bag (kinda like the one your mom used to pack your lunch in). This method of baking creates a crunchy top crust while keeping the bottom crust nice and flaky. And if you are too lazy to drive to Mukwonago, you can get them shipped to your house. The Elegant Farmer’s Autumn Harvest Festival runs through October 23, on Saturdays and Sundays from 10am to 5pm.  Make this a yearly tradition starting now, and drop off one of those pies at our office when you get back!


THE PLACE WHERE SQUASH FLY IN THE AIR

When you think of fall, you think of pumpkins. And when you think of pumpkins, you say, “How far can I catapult this through the air?” No? Well for those who do, the Union Grove Great Pumpkin Chuckin Fest is the place for you. If you know how to make a catapult to hurl a pumpkin as far as you can, then sign up for the competition! If spectating is more your sport, I’m sure this event will keep you entertained. And if eating is more your sport, then the Kansas City BBQ Cook-Off portion will surely sustain your appetite. A total of $6,800 in prizes is being awarded in the cook-off. The Racine County Fairgrounds is the host of this event, running from October 21 through October 23. 


THE PLACE WHERE I CAN’T PRONOUNCE ANYTHING THAT’S HAPPENING THERE

If you’re Norwegian, or not, travel up to Iola to the 99th (Yes… 99th…) Annual Lutefisk Supper and Norwegian Bake and Craft Sale on October 17. I’m not sure how many fall activities will be part of this event, but I saw it and had to include it; partially because it’s almost a century old and part because I have no idea what goes on at a thing like this. They say you can get the following food there: lutefisk, lefse, sandbakkels, krumkakes, and fattigmann cookies. It’s $14 for adults and $4 for children aged 6 to 12. I’ll refund you your admittance fee if you can report back to me on not only how to say the aforementioned food items, but if they do taste as weirdly delicious as they sound.


THE PLACE WHERE YOUR KIDS CAN TRICK OR TREAT FOR SOMETHING OTHER THAN CANDY

Touting their event as “sugar-free family fun”, the Cave of the Mounds, in Blue Mounds, Wisconsin, is hosting an experience that is sure to delight your little ones (although this sugar-free thing makes me want to go eat a chocolate bar as we speak). HOLLOWeen at the Cave will run October 27 through October 31. Bring your kids to go on a scavenger hunt on the nature trails, dig for fossils, and go trick or treating for gemstones (this is actually really cool). On the weekend of the festival, you can experience the cave in a whole new light. Literally. They are going to light the cave in candles, which could be beautiful and a little bit eerie at the same time. And tip from me, dress your kid up as a bat. Because that would be A-MAZING.

image courtesy of caveofthemounds.com

image courtesy of caveofthemounds.com


THE PLACE WHERE YOUR ZOMBIE COSTUME WILL BE OF MOST USE

On the last full weekend of October, take a 6-hour drive north and you will end up in Washburn, Wisconsin. If you have ever been to Washburn, it won’t look the same when you arrive. The town transforms into a Zombie Town, with residents and visitors dressed in their best ‘undead’ garb. You can participate in a Zombie walk/run, haunted house, parade, and get this, even Zombie Zumba. For those who wish to walk the streets at night, there will be a pub crawl (hopefully your rotted face won’t leak out all that beer you’ll want to consume).

oRr GRrr Mrrr nuurg uUrR arraaa!!
(According to this translator ^that^ means, “You won’t want to miss this! – is Zombie speak a language now? Thanks Walking Dead…) I now believe the zombie apocalypse will start in the north woods of Wisconsin, thanks to this fest, which is going to jinx it for everyone.

These events are only a sampling of what is going on around Wisconsin this fall. There are a lot of other cool spots to hit up. Check out our blog post from yesterday to see some local events this weekend and report back if you make it to one of these events above. We would love to hear about your experience!

Erin
g.moxie

Milwaukee's Street Art Movement

I think that we can collectively say that Milwaukee is a stunning city.

There is a rich history of architecture that spans from original landmarks from the birth of the city, to modern masterpieces such as the Quadracci Pavilion designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava (I mean, watching those wings open…. what a beaut!). The views of Lake Michigan/the views from Lake Michigan, the landscape as you kayak down the Milwaukee River, the falling snow in wintertime and sunny, hot days on Bradford Beach (let’s be real, in how many cities do you get both of these things?!). But as I look around the city, I notice one piece of urban beauty that is missing – street art…for which the void is now filled. 

When I first heard about Black Cat Alley, I thought, “WHAT IS THIS”? As the resident crazy cat lady here at g.moxie, the name immediately caught my attention. But when I opened up their webpage and saw that a mural alley is being installed blocks from my home on the East Side I (figuratively) jumped for joy.

“Street art” and “graffiti” are generally thought of as interchangeable. We know that graffiti gets a bad rep – associated with vandalism and gangs. Milwaukee even has an “Anti-Graffiti Program” insuring that “graffiti is removed promptly” from buildings. Street art was born out of the idea of graffiti – a more modern version, curated by trained artists and using more than just a can (or two) of spray paint.

I took a trip out to South Dakota in the summer of 2015. My 13-hour drive took me through flat lands and led me to wild buffalo. Much to my surprise (because I definitely didn’t think I would find this on my way to look at giant heads of dead presidents), as we drove through Rapid City, SD, (with a population of 70,812 compared to Milwaukee’s 576,432) I found a similar attraction. How did a city so much smaller than Milwaukee already have this? Sure, we have the rotating words marked on Fink’s wall (remember all the hoopla surrounding “couples are boring and everyone knows it”?) and my everyday reminder to “Chose a Positive Thought” on my way to work in the Third Ward. But what I saw in South Dakota was a place that inspired me more than these words painted on cream city brick.

Art Alley, as they call it in the Mount Rushmore State, began as a public art project in 2005. As I wandered through Art Alley, I thought to myself how awe inspiring a mix of hundreds of artists work flowed together so well. The range of art varied so much, each with its own story to tell. It’s obvious that it was one of my favorite things to photograph on that trip just by looking at my Instagram feed. I’ve included a few shots below of some of my favorite works from there.

I quickly realized that this kind of artwork becomes a destination for out of town guests and residents alike. How many people had made a choice to stop at Art Alley to take in the view? How many artists had come to Art Alley to put their mark on a piece of ever-changing history? (Black Cat Alley differs on this – so don’t go installing your own artwork over the artists who put a lot of time into their works.)

Black Cat Alley is exactly what Milwaukee needs. Don’t get me wrong; a typical art gallery may house some nice artwork worth checking out, but this is so much more! I’ve been to the Louvre and trust me, having to stand behind a velvet rope and a group of 50+ people (at 5’2” I had to hold my camera over my head to take a picture) to see the itsy bitsy Mona Lisa isn’t as glamorous as it sounds. Black Cat Alley is public (FREE to see!), it's outside, it's open 24 hours, it’s LARGE, and it’s transforming a dark, unused alley into a work of art! It brings students, local and foreign artists, businesses and the community together.

Black Cat Alley is located in the alley between Ivanhoe Place and Kenilworth Avenue, just south of North Avenue (right behind the historical Oriental Theater). Those in charge of Black Cat Alley say this about choosing the East Side for this project:

The Black Cat Alley was born on the East Side of Milwaukee for a reason. The East Side neighborhood has a proud legacy of arts, music and community programming. We are a community unlike any other area in Milwaukee. You’ll find old school mixed in with new. We buzz with the energy and vitality of creatives-in-training, alongside longtime Eastsiders who make Milwaukee what it is today. We’re the bike hub between lakefront and river trails. This is where you’re going to leave your car while you get everything done and then some in just a few blocks. You’ll find art, film & theater in unexpected places on The East Side.

Over the last few weeks, the alley has been transformed. Goodbye to the days of plain brick and boringness. Hello to a colorful world of street art.

We stopped by to check out the finished works on the alley’s opening day over the weekend.

MTO, a contemporary French artist, put the first mark on Black Cat Alley by painting “Milwaukee’s BUG” - literally a giant frog with a spray paint can hat and mustache. Does it get any better than that? (I’ve come to learn that this work is the first full color and self-portrait of the artist.)

MTO was joined by 10 other artists to take over the alley. Here is some of the work below:

What’s so cool about this new installation is the mix of art styles. Walking down the alley for the first time you are not sure what to expect. But overall, my mind was just blown away. The alley is so colorful and full of life.

If you have visited Black Cat Alley already, what do you think? Are you excited that Milwaukee is finally taking a step towards the idea of incorporating street art into its world? I really hope other areas of the city see this and think, “This would be cool in my part of town. What can we do to make that happen?” The Milwaukee community put in so much time and worked together so well on this project, and I think it’s a great idea to keep it going. I know I personally would love to see every alley look this beautiful. Hats off to those who were the driving force behind Black Cat Alley along with all of the artists who were involved. I know we will enjoy its for many years to come.

Erin
g.moxie