Monday, February 23, 2009

Why I Love the Midwest

I love the Midwest (Wisconsin, in particular) for many reasons. Our cultural association with food (beer, brats, and cheese to be exact), the sense of community in Midwestern small towns, the hard working citizens and most of all: FESTIVALS. The Midwest has festivals for everything: Wiener and Kraut Days, Corn Fest, and Brat Fest are just a few of the favorites I've been to.

This weekend, as I was leaving for opera rehearsal, I opened my door and saw that the world had been covered by a blanket of snow. Still falling from the sky, the snow was the picturesque fluffy stuff that makes you feel like you live in a snow globe as you watch it descend. As soon as I stepped outdoors, I gathered that some hot soup and coffee was in order. Luckily, I live in the same building as a wonderful mom-and-pop coffee shop and cafe in an historic building (the Sweet Spot Coffee Shop, you should check it out if you are ever in Whitewater). When I stepped in, I noticed that the shop was uncharacteristically busy. I also noticed that the sign that usually indicates the soup of the day instead only had chalk residue where an artsy depiction of a cup of soup and an indication of the soup du jour normally is.

When I approached the counter, I asked the barista if there was any soup, her reply was "No, sorry. Lacey (the owner of the shop) has the container at the festival. She has entered her chili into the chili contest" as she pointed her finger towards the park and lake across the street. A giant tent was set up in the middle of the park and there were hundreds of people walking around, despite the cold weather and foot of snow that had accumulated in the course of a few hours, like it was the most beautiful day of the year. Maybe it was...

The festival being held in the middle of the winter on a frigid day featured two of my favorite festival events of the Midwest: a food contest (the chili bake-off) and the polar plunge. For those who don't know, the polar plunge features people jumping in their bathing suits into a freezing cold ice covered lake for charity. Beautiful. While I am sad I didn't get any soup, I am happy to call the Midwest my home and hope that Lacey won the chili contest.


  1. Oh my gosh. I forgot Grelton fest in Grelton, Wisconsin. Best (or worst) festival EVER. It is celebrating an unincorporated town and takes place in the parking lot of a bar. There is a tiger in a cage every year as the single attraction. Awesome...

  2. You would like this. Abroad I had one person who asked me where I was from, I usually try to get away with just saying "The States" but they always ask which state. I said Wisconsin and this guy got really excited. He told me he had seen a program on tv about Wisconsin and asked if it was true that fat little old guys jumped in the frozen sea in the middle of winter...
    We do have a weird culture.
    (this is Angie btw)