At the intersection of Art and Agriculture
Don't be fooled by the peaceful rolling hills or meandering Baraboo River that passes through the small town of Reedsburg. Already a busy trailhead next to the historic train depot for the 22-mile-long 400 State Trail, Reedsburg is taking center stage for its dairy products like Tera's Whey, microbrews from the Corner Pub Brewery and arts scene thriving at the Wormfarm Institute. Located an hour's drive northwest of Madison, the bucolic enclave just 20 minutes from the Wisconsin Dells seems to thrive on creativity of all sorts.
A likely start to your day trip is Reedsburg's historic downtown at the intersection of Hwy 23 and Hwy 33. Founded in 1852, Reedsburg was once home to thriving hops production and woolen mill industries. Today, picturesque dairy farms dot the countryside, while a vibrant downtown supports an art gallery, antique and gift stores and numerous restaurants.
The Wormfarm's Woolen Mill Gallery on Main Street offers an ever-evolving line up of top-notch exhibits of fine art and curiosities from May through October. This award-winning non-profit is working to build a sustainable future for agriculture and the arts by fostering vital links between people and the land, both at the farm and its downtown gallery. Wormfarm is the creative brainchild behind Roadside Culture Stands, mobile farm stands designed and built by artists. Wormfarm also offers artist residencies to artists of all media.
After you've worked up an appetite, head over to the Deli Bean at 266 E. Main. Savor their Wisconsin Grilled Cheese with provolone, cheddar, cranberry chutney and mustard on sliced sourdough and panini grilled, perfect with their house specialty, baked French onion soup. They also have sandwich wraps, salads and seasonal specials. Many of their coffees are fair trade and organic, roasted in Madison.
Every year in the fall, you can ferment your culinary knowledge at the annual Reedsburg Fermentation Fest, a six week long celebration of foods and drinks made from fermentation and live cultures in 2010. The programs can help those interested in making their own sourdough bread, brewing their own beer or making their own sauerkraut. Heralded as a live culture convergence, the Reedsburg Fermentation Fest brings together the arts and agriculture as well as food and drink.
To get a feel for the pioneering life of yore, head to the Reedsburg Area Historical Society's Pioneer Log Village (800-844-3507) to see numerous log buildings that include a church, general store and a blacksmith shop, all with antique furnishings and a one-room country school. You can embark on your own adventure by plying the waters of the Baraboo River in a canoe, for rent in nearby Wonewoc. Don't forget to mark your calendar for mid-June where you can churn up some fun at the Reedsburg Butter Festival.
Beer is on tap year round at the Corner Pub Brewery (608-524-8989), a micro-brewery quenching the thirst of locals and visitors alike with their Weiss, Stout, American Pale Ale, Bock, Old Gold Lager and Smoked Porter--all brewed on site, about 100 barrels a year. The only way to sample them is order a pint on tap. Located near the bridge crossing the Baraboo River, the Corner Pub can be spotted by the Hops Boom and Bust mural, one of several, local-history inspired murals coordinated by Wormfarm and featuring local artists.
There's also the Reedsburger (yes, it's trademarked), a hamburger prepared with locally-sourced High View Bison at the Touchdown Tavern. The tavern is located in the former Roper Hotel built in 1896, listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Besides the numerous beers on tap, in bottles or cans, the Touchdown Tavern features the Agnes Moorehead Lounge, an exhibit showcasing some memorabilia and pictures from Moorehead's career in radio, movies, television and stage--most notably, her role as the witch mother-in-law on ABC's TV comedy "Bewitched." Marty's Steakhouse, located at the Voyageur Inn and Conference Center features various breakfast, lunch, and dinner buffets, as well as a Norman Rockwell exhibit that showcases over 4,000 pieces of his work covering from World War I to modern day rock stars. Even the façade of a local bank is graced by a brick mural designed by a Middle School art teacher and his class.
So it seems that everyone in Reedsburg has something to share, whether it's fine art or a craft brewed beer. Whether you're visiting during the Reedsburg Fermentation Fest, putting on the bike trail or just passing through for a bite to eat, there's more backstage than first meets the eye at this intersection of arts and agriculture.