Weekend stuff: Sputnik, Seed Spitting, Streetcars

posted by Eric Paulsen -

It's the second weekend of September, and there are a lot of fun things to do on what should be a very sunny (though not super warm) weekend. We know about Ride On the Wild Side at the Milwaukee County Zoo this weekend. But if you like to hop in the car or on the bike and cruise a little further out in the state, here are three picks you can check out Saturday, from my own road trip website, StateTrunkTour.com:

1. Sputnik Fest, Manitowoc

Did you know a piece of the Soviet's (and the world's, actually) first spacecraft crashed to Earth in Manitowoc? A 20-pound chunk of Sputnik IV, which launched in 1960, came flying down and landed on 8th Street, just north of downtown on September 6, 1962. While a bit of eyebrow-raising event during the Cold War, the piece was found not to be radioactive or dangerous and was returned to the Russians.

Every year, Manitowoc celebrates this event with Sputnik Fest, a out-of-this-world time that's "wacky tacky" by its own admission. Events begin tomorrow/Friday night with a party featuring a live band and the crowning of "Ms. Space Debris."

Saturday features plenty of fun events, from costume contests to the "Alien Drop," where a cherry picker drops a ton of alien figures - some of which have prized with them.

Sputnik Fest takes place on 8th Street around the Rahr-West Art Museum just north of downtown Manitowoc.

2. Streetcar Day, Kenosha

While the Milwaukee Streetcar is having its own controversial construction going on, Kenosha's had their streetcar line over about a decade. Saturday is a great day to go check it out. There will be tours of the “streetcar barn” (Joseph McCarthy Transit Center), interactive displays, vendors, a streetcar trivia game, and more. Spend the day riding as many of Kenosha’s streetcars as you want, explore the downtown area with its shops, museums, restaurants, and bars. Two cars will be running at a time, with others out for display. Get more details here. Plus, check out the Mars Cheese Castle or the Brat Stop along I-41/94 on the way there or back!

3. U.S. Watermelon Speed-Eating & Seed-Spitting Championships, Pardeeville

Part of the Pardeeville Watermelon Festival, Saturday you can eat free watermelon and win cash or prizes for your seed-spitting skills. A refreshing fest since 1968, the record is 61 feet, 3 inches. Get to work! Pardeeville just a little bit north of Madison along Highway 22.

4. Oconomowoc Fall Festival

I'm biased towards Oconomowoc because I lived there when I was really little and it's such a neat little town, but a September Saturday is probably the nicest time to enjoy their downtown. During the Fall Festival, tons of arts and crafts vendors will be there, live music will be playing, and they even have an outdoor movie at dusk. Check out the Chile Pepper Eating Contest at 4, or participate if you wanna handle it (your body might be made at you for a while, though.) And if you like lake views, check out the new rooftop deck that just opened at Lakerz Bar & Grill on Wisconsin Avenue. Looks cool!

5. Taste of Lake Geneva

This is a great chance to sample food and beverages from over a dozen Lake Geneva area restaurants and shops, including unique brats from Lake Geneva Country Meats, Sprecher, Avant, Tuscan, and more. It takes place at Flat Iron Park, on the shores of Geneva Lake. Great place to enjoy on a September Saturday despite the presence of so many Illinois license plates.

Have a great weekend and thanks for listening!


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Eric Paulsen

Eric Paulsen

I wanted to be in radio since I was four - and four decades later I still haven't grown out of it... Read more

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