“Have a cream puff for me!” was Katie’s send-off as I left our Wisconsinmade office on Friday. Wisconsin cream puffs are perhaps THE signature item at the annual Wisconsin State Fair in Milwaukee. Lauren (8), Dave (5), Grandfather, and I easily found the cream puffs – they had their own pavilion. The purchase line was 50 people long, but moved fast in front of windows revealing smiling cream puff chefs sporting Holstein cow-patterned caps and squirting delicious white mounds of whipped cream on to sliced pastry puffs. We waved to them and they waved back, showing off their work. Every one was caught up in the excitement of this yearly Wisconsin tradition!
Entering the huge Wisconsin Products Pavilion, we saw row after row of display booths showing off all the different kinds of foods Wisconsinites produce. We saw Wisconsin cranberries, cherries, honey, maple syrup, nuts, cheeses, ice cream, pizzas, sausages, meats, potatoes, candy, and more. Alice in Dairyland held center stage, quizzing her audience on which products came from which Wisconsin region.
In the Wisconsin Horticulture, Craft, and Culinary Pavilion we saw the fruits of Wisconsin hobbyists having fun. Amateurs pitted their talents against one another to compete for prizes in baking, cake decorating, gardening, sewing, quilting, leather-crafting, and wood-working. Truth be told, we saw nothing amateurish in their results. The creative ingenuity and skill demonstrated in each craft amazed us.
The competitions continued in the 6 livestock barns. Exotic and farm animals looked their best for the crowds and judges. Our family enjoyed the Rabbit and Poultry Palace. The children ‘oohed’ and ‘aahed’ over the velvety soft, cuddly rabbits. The exquisitely plumaged roosters, hens, turkeys, and doves impressed us too. The colorful patterns of feathers on these domestic birds made woodland birds look drab. So why do children’s books feature poultry in such plain, solid colors? Let their illustrators go to the fair and they might depict animal characters in their true-life glory. These impressive animals were a tribute to Wisconsin breeders working with the myriad varieties of forms and colors nature offers.
And of course, we couldn’t resist watching Wisconsinites play with their animals as well. No pig wrestling this time, but pig racing! And duck racing too! The crowd cheered for their favorites and rooted for the piglet swimming across the pool.