The cold and rainy weather is coming, but a trip to look forward to in the Spring when the trees are blooming and the prairie is smelling of sweet honeysuckle when Wisconsin will soon be beckoning those Chicagoans North to green pastures is Old World Wisconsin.
Old World Wisconsin, a two and a half hour trip north is well worth the drive. Although leaving early is recommended. The venture is not for the wee ones. The walking alone at Old World Wisconsin can do the hearty trail blazer in. Fortunately, the tram runs every half an hour on your six mile hike, but with all the sites from the Crossroads Village Area to the Norwegian Area all the way towards the south end of the park you should give yourself at least five to six hours of visiting time and resting.
The top three stops to make are the Crossroads Village Area with the Thomas General Store, the Sisel Shoe Shop with a spectacular third person interpretation (no role playing only explanations) of what went on inside, Hafford House or the washerwoman’s, and of course the Four Mile Inn to see where a traveler like yourself would rest for the night. One other surprise is the friendly plow horses who will be more than happy to sneak a few honeysuckles from you!
The next prime stop is the German Area, but stop inside the African-American Area to see the church and town history of Pleasant Ridge. The results are quite fascinating.
At the German Area make sure to stop by the Koepsell Farm to check out some more livestock and see a German house, but the Schulz Farm is the greater gem with the old door kitchen where fresh Schnittbohensalat (type of bean salad) is made, where interpreters explain and visitors watch.
The Norwegian Area houses the Raspberry School and the Kvaale Farm where it is a traditional inside, but the farmer’s story is even more interesting. He used the American drive with a bit of Norwegian know how mixed in. Be sure to ask the interpreter here for the family’s history. Disappointment is not permitted.
All the buildings have been moved from their original sites and placed in the park. Additionally, many of the early settlers to Wisconsin from Northern Europe and the U.S. are present, including the top three along with the Polish, Danish, Finnish, and Yankee Areas.
Although I felt that the interpreters would play the families in first person interpretation which means acting out the role of the farmer or tavern owner which uses the noun “I” or “us” sadly, it is only third person interpretation meaning only explanation of the time period using the nouns “them” or “they”.
If you can not wait till Spring, the park is open on select weekends in the months of November and December. In December, the Spirit of Christmas Past is a celebration where each of the areas perform and decorate for the holidays. Not an event to skip.