August 2010


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Summer in Wisconsin is synonymous with frequent fairs and festivals, almost enough to make up for the long winter.  We have not yet been to SummerFest but have been to the Wisconsin State Fair a few times, and this year we went to the Renaissance Faire for the first time.  Everett has developed a southern accent, at least with certain words, one of which is fair.  As in “Can we go to the State Faya?”  Most readers will probably recall that our house is about a mile or two from the Wisconsin State Fair grounds, which is easy biking distance, and this year we connected the Burley to the tandem and made two trips to see the goats, pigs, cows, sheep, ducks, rabbits and chickens.  The sheer number of animals at the State Fair is truly overwhelming.  They are not a novelty, like a petting zoo.  Rather, there are probably a dozen large, permanent structures, each the size of a football field, which are dedicated for this purpose.  Cash prizes over $10,000 are awarded for some of the best of each breed; families spend several days tending to their animals during the competitions.  This is serious stuff for children and grownups alike.

This year at the state fair we discovered two things. First was an underworld of home kitchen & garden competitions.  One entire building was lined with tables and refrigerators that contained a wide range of self-made categories that are open for competition.  These range from “Largest Hosta Leaf” or “Strangest Shaped Vegetable” to “Best Sleepover Snack” to wide open categories like “Spam, Adult” and “Spam, Children”.  After viewing several of these we concluded that if you need another CV line under “Honors & Awards” then just invent a category and then submit it to the state fair.  Next year we will be submitting entries for: “Best Rogue Vegetable”, in which we will enter the giant squash we accidentally grew out of our compost bin; “Tastiest Use of Cinnamon with Chicken”, which is for an unbelievably delicious Moroccan dish that Melissa makes; and finally “Happiest Yeast”, which is a nod towards Chris’ ongoing efforts to master homebrewing.  Our second discovery was there is seemingly no end to horrifying yet delicious state fair foods, most of which are either deep fried, “on-a-stick” or both.  When we were growing up the list was confined to corn dogs. elephant ears and funnel cakes.  Last year we discovered chocolate covered bacon.  This year we were confronted with some uniquely disturbing concoctions including the Krispy Kreme Burger and deep fried peanut butter & jelly.  Just take a look here and search for “deep fried”.

Other outdoor events this summer included the July 4th Parade, Tosa Night Out and Tour de Fat.  The July 4th Parade comes down North Ave in Wauwatosa, not far from our house.  Tosa Night Out is an annual event at Hart park which ends with a community walk that goes down our street.  And the Tour de Fat is a traveling bicycle festival put on by New Belgium Brewery; this year it came to Milwaukee for the first time.  Everett and Chris were able to join the bike parade on the Pugsley and then enjoy the festivities afterward.  Photos and videos of these events are here.

In the midst of all of these fairs and festivals we experienced a rather extreme weather event: several inches of rain in the course of a single day caused the nearby Menomonee River to rise about 10 to 12 feet above its normal level of about a foot or two, which was so high that the water actually rose above the bottom of the train trestle and inched toward the top of the pedestrian bridge near our house.  It’s not the highest water ever recorded here but it was close.  This was also an instance where Milwaukee made the national news due to a sinkhole on North Ave a couple miles east of us.  Here is some footage of the flood:

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