“He went to the Fairgrounds!”: 5 highlights of the niche winter schedule at Wisconsin State Fair Park
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The first major challenge of 2012? How to quickly follow through on your resolutions to hang out with some cats, complain about dresses and mulch, and guzzle Miller Lite on a landlocked yacht. Luckily, there is one place offering all that and more during the coming winter months: Wisconsin State Fair Park.
Not to be confused with the gun-totin’, fire-and-brimstone preachin’ events at the Waukesha Expo Center, the state fairgrounds and their atoll of exhibition halls in West Allis showcase plenty of incredibly specific winter to-dos. Here’s a rundown of some upcoming events, including the pros and cons in attending and a handy-dandy “Irony-O-Meter” for unintended audience members.
Wonderful World Of Weddings
Intended audience: Anyone who has actually said, “He went to Jared!”; mothers of the same.
What you’re missing: More marriage bric-a-brac than you can shake a krenzl at. There’s a dowry of gifts and promotions available from more than 170 exhibitors. Attendees are prompted by promoters to skip the formal wear and slip on comfortable clothes to make it through the whole floor plan.
What it’s missing: A sense of restraint to go along with the gluttonous commercial side of weddings. Sure, these things are expectedly expensive, but even the event organizers openly encourage attendees to bring their wedding date calendar “along with your checkbook/credit card” for specials offered during the show.
Irony-O-Meter: 2. Judging by the slew of reality TV shows surrounding weddings and the sudden fame of Pippa Middleton, there is a well of widespread, non-ironic interest.
Milwaukee Boat Show
Intended audience: So many uncles.
What you’re missing: The chance to pretend it’s summer on a boat without the threat of gull shit. The rows of boats offer an oasis in January as you pass yourself off among the yacht club set, even if it’s just to reenact that Andy Samberg and T-Pain skit. Plus, if you’ve gone in years past, this is your opportunity to sign up friends for unwanted subscription renewals to Good Old Boat magazine. Top that, you pavement perverts at February’s Milwaukee RV Show!
What it’s missing: Distinct cross-marketing opportunities. What, no live sets by local nautically named acts like Maritime and Ahab’s Ghost? Or sales of pints from Great Lakes Brewing’s shipwreck-themed beers? Do we have to bring up the possible absence of Twiggy, the water-skiing squirrel?
Irony-O-Meter: 3. While you may never be in line to buy a boat—much less the “Queen of the Show,” a 42-foot Cruiser Yacht 41 Cantius—this is your chance to actively dream of that lifestyle, particularly during a month when local waterways are used more as ice rinks.
Intended audience: Nerds; people who think that 7 Mile Fair has lost its edge.
What you’re missing: All the random joy and cheap thrills of America’s catch-drain of merchandising. Attendees are entered into raffles for everything from leaf blowers to Bucks tickets, and get discounted admission for bringing canned food for the Hunger Task Force.
What it’s missing: Nothing. Honestly, the list of items for sale is so varied and long that it feels like it should be read by that mustachioed dude who used to do the Micro Machines and FedEx ads.
Irony-O-Meter: 1. There is nothing sardonic about a place that earnestly and singularly fulfills your shopping needs for a copy of Madden ’94, a 1970s sun hat, and bulk cinnamon candy.
Wisconsin/Northern Illinois Construction, Municipal, and Landscape Expo
Intended audience: Guys with an extra shed for tools; anyone lampooned on Parks And Recreation.
What you’re missing: Carhartt-Overalls-Wearing-Guy No. 1: “That backhoe there’ll take care that sum-bitch tree stump at Village Park.” Carhartt-Overalls-Wearing-Guy No. 2: “Mmmm-huh.”
What it’s missing: All the pizzazz and pomp of the Southern Illinois Construction, Municipal, and Landscape Expo.
Irony-O-Meter: 5. Unless this is the target area of your business, the only reason to attend is to gather material for a soon-to-be-abandoned script on the seedy side of electrical subcontractors (suggested title: Hot Wired).
Great Lakes Pet Expo
Intended audience: Families; people who use the word “cute” as a whole sentence.
What you’re missing: Admirable representation from cat and dog fans, as well as people who regularly quote The Matrix and collect throwing stars and ferrets. There’s a 5K dog walk for the showy types, and an appearance by Craig Counsell, which we’re hoping is the beginning of his career transition from defensively sound infielder to pooper scooper spokesman. (Counsell Scoops: “Don’t make an error when it comes to your dog or horse feces!”)
What it’s missing: A “Pets In The News” exhibit. The region has no shortage of furry and feathery friends that have made headlines: Dakota, the owl who fled his Beavis-and-Butthead-esque captors; Gigi, the anti-government dwarf goat; Emily, the Francophile cat; Oliver, the funeral home therapy Portuguese water dog; and, of course, the more than two dozen dogs that danced around Liberace’s candelabra.
Irony-O-Meter: 1. It’s more commendable than anything if your love of domesticated animals trumps your avoidance of crowds of viscerally juiced children who are anything but.