Whether you’re a lifelong cheesehead or a weekend visitor, trust us, you have a lot left to discover when it comes to the wonders of Wisconsin. Let us give you a head start, with 10 amazing Wisconsin facts to add to your list.
1) A Major Mammoth
The largest wooly mammoth ever excavated, the Hebior mammoth, was found on a Kenosha farm. It’s important not just for its size, but also because of the butchering marks found on it – which count as some of the oldest evidence of human habitation in North America. The Milwaukee Public Museum has its bones, and keeps a replica on display in its Atrium. Admission to the Atrium is free; General Museum admission is $14 for adults, $13 for seniors, $11 for teens and college students, $10 for children, and free for children under 3.
2) Potosi’s Pride
Milwaukee might be the city that made beer famous, but the National Brewery Museum makes its home at the Potosi Brewery, on the banks of the Mississippi. The museum showcases “breweriana” including historic bottles, cans, glasses, trays, coasters, and advertising. Admission is $5 for ages 18-59, $3 for ages 60+, and free for ages 17 and under.
3) A Musical Must-See
We all know that Wisconsin’s Official State Dance is the polka, right? Well did you know that we have a museum dedicated to that most exquisite polka instrument, the accordion? A World of Accordions Museum in Superior is the world’s largest accordion museum. Opening hours are limited, so call before you travel: 715-395-2787.
4) Enduring Earthworks
Wisconsin is considered the center of Effigy Mound culture, named for the incredible earthworks Native American communities built here, depicting animals, people, and other shapes on a massive scale, and sometimes used for burial. There were once up to 20,000 of these massive works in Wisconsin, many of the 4,000 that remain are visible on state lands.
5) Sheboygan’s Surf
Sheboygan, Wisconsin is known by freshwater surfers as the Malibu of the Midwest. Sheboygan’s coast along five miles of Lake Michigan gets amazing waves. The peak surf season is mid-September to March, and yes, winter surfing means sharing the lake with ice floes and icebergs – best saved for advanced surfers. Novice and paddle-boarders can enjoy more warmth and calm from late July to early September.
6) Lumbering Legends
The Lumberjack World Championships in Hayward each July feature events like the Underhand Chop, the Double Buck and the Hot Saw, all taking place in Lumberjack Bowl, once a lumber holding pond. More than 100 competitors, including many Lumber Jills, vie for more than $50,000 in prize money, making this one of the largest purses for lumberjack competitions in the world. Single-day audience tickets range from $15 to $25.
7) Baraboo’s Birds
The International Crane Foundation in Baraboo is the only place in the world where you can see all 15 crane species, including endangered Whooping Cranes. Visit and take a tour, or hike the over four miles of nature trails, set among over 100 acres of restored tall grass prairie, oak savanna, and wetlands. Open April through October – admission is $9.50 for adults, $8 for seniors and students, $5 for youth, and free for children 5 and under.
8) A Creepy Crawly Championship
Wisconsin is home to the International Wood Tick Races, affectionately known as the “Kentucky Derby of Cooties,” held annually at the Oxbo Resort in Park Falls. To participate, simply bring your fastest tick, select one from the Oxbo stables, or take a walk in the woods before the race. After each heat, the losing tick is smashed by a gavel belonging to the Mayor of Oxbo. The fastest tick wins its life and the title of World Champion Wood Tick, while its owner receives a cash prize and a trophy.
9) Bicycling Behemoth
Sparta, Wisconsin is the self-proclaimed Bicycling Capital of America. Accordingly, the town sports a talking 32’-tall sculpture of Ben Bikin, a chap on a Victorian-era bicycle who will tell you what’s going on around town. Sparta is also home to the Deke Slayton Memorial Space & Bicycle Museum, named for an astronaut who lived on a nearby farm. Among the museum’s amazing items is a photo of Slayton, in his blue NASA flight suit, shoveling manure out of his barn. Admission is $3 for adults, $1 for ages 6-15, and free for children 5 and under.
10) Carp Craziness
On New Year’s Eve, residents of Prairie du Chien count down not to a ball drop, but to the Droppin’ of the Carp. Each year, a frozen carp, always named Lucky, drops 100 feet to usher in the New Year at St. Feriole Island Park. Prior to the drop, Lucky sits on a throne where and people can kiss him for good luck. The celebration also features a Carp Piñata and the crowning of the Carp King and Queen.
How many of these facts were familiar to you? If the answer is 10, then congratulations! You are a champion cheesehead, and a Wisconsin wonder in your own right.