30th Annual International Festival at the Overture Center in Madison


Overture Center and Associated Bank Madison State Street

This was my first time attending this festival (Al couldn’t come) and also my first time going inside the Overture Center of the Arts.  They are celebrating their 10th anniversary this year so it was high time.

The festival began at 10:30 in the morning, opening with Swiss Alphorns, played by two gentlemen from New Glarus. They sound like they are from Switzerland, and have played at this festival the entire 30 years.  We also saw them in the Cheese Days in Monroe parade. Let’s listen in.

Swiss Alphorn players at International Festival

After that spellbinding performance, we enjoyed the Chinese Lion Dance, performed by the Zhong Yi Kung Fu Association.

Chinese Dragon Dance at International festival at Overture Center

Soon after that was a beautiful 45 minute performance by the UW Russian Folk Orchestra in the Capitol Theater.  The Madison Russian School Children’s Choir also performed a cute cat song, sung in Russian!

UW Russian Folk Orchestra in Madison

Here is about half of their performance, including the cat song.

The last performance I saw was Sadira and the Riad Dance Company.  I have been watching them at many festivals over the last 25 years or so.

Sadira and the Riad Dance Company  at International Festival

They also had a photo booth and I couldn’t resist getting in on the act.  My picture will become part of a large mosaic created to celebrate the Overture Center’s 10th anniversary.

Photo Booth Project at Overture Center

International Festival Commemorative Photo 2015

It was a good time and I hope to go again next year. We have overlooked this fine facility for entertainment in our own city and plan on coming here more from now on.   They also have a tour every Saturday at 11, except on days with special events.  The Overture Center also runs Art Fair on the Square in July.

Overture Center at night


The New Edgewater Hotel – Twice as Nice!

Winter 2015 – Several Visits

The Edgewater is a Madison favorite since it opened in 1948, and has become one of our favorite places too.

Our last visit at the Edgewater was 9-17-12 for a meal. By November, it closed for two years to be mostly rebuilt from the ground up (except the Langdon building on the left). One last look of the old Edgewater before reconstruction, this picture is from 2010. We spent two nights there in December 2011 and really enjoyed ourselves.

The Edgewater 2010 in Madison

 Now we are in 2015, our first visit back, a similar perspective.  The central building was demolished and on new land on the right, the new Wisconsin building was constructed. It’s like a whole new place now.   It re-opened in October 2014.

The Edgewater  2015

In this middle area below (The Plaza) is now an ice skating rink and a cafè called The Icehouse for hungry skaters.

Edgewater Rink  in Madison   Ice Rink house at EdgewaterThe Icehouse Cafe at the Edgewater

For those people without a boat, winter is a good time to see the other side of the Edgewater facing the water. I went and did just that in February.  We had the pleasure of enjoying lunch there with our priest in January during Madison’s Restaurant Week. The main dining room is now called The Statehouse, formerly The Admiralty.  The lower tall windows in the Wisconsin Building on the left are the dining room windows with a great view of Lake Mendota.

Edgewater Water View in Madison   Statehouse Dining Room windows in Madison The Statehouse Collage in Madison

Lunch was delicious! Here was the menu, we each had a different entreè.

Statehouse Restaurant Menu at Edgewater Edgewater Lunch in Madison

We went back on Feb 25 for our tour. It needs to be arranged in advance and not on weekends. Call 800-922-5512 to arrange it.  It lasted one hour, our guide Julie was wonderful!

One feature they carried over from the old Edgewater is the “Wall of Fame”, highlighting celebrities who have stayed there. It used to be a couple of walls in the lounge just outside of the Admiralty. Now, it is a long curving hallway leading to the Statehouse dining room.  There are even some video screens in the hall.

Wall of Fame 2011

Edgewater Wall of fame 2011

 Hall of Fame 2015

The Wall of Fame at Edgewater

Up ahead on our left is the spiral staircase leading down to the concierge where we met our guide.

Edgewater spiral staircase

Our first stop was in the Wisconsin building where we were. We visited the Sky Bar, offering a great view of the lake.  Also the rink and Langdon building below.

Sky Bar at Edgewater Sky Bar view at Edgewater

 We next saw the aforementioned Statehouse restaurant, highly recommended!  The new state-of-the-art open kitchen allows guests to see their meal being prepared, as well as being able to interact with the kitchen staff. They even have an open-flame oven. Since I am a professional cook, I really like their new kitchen.

Hearth Oven at Edgewater

Ajacent to the Stateroom is the Lounge with a full bar. It also has a semi-private room with pictures of the celebrities that have visited.

Edgewater Lounge Edgewater Lounge room

If you are in a hurry and can’t take in a full breakfast at the Statehouse, the Edgewater Café offers popular coffee drinks and sweet pastries.

Edgewater Cafe

We head  upstairs in the Langdon Building  to The Red Crown Club room, based on the Red Crown Lodge in Minocqua, WI.

Red Crown Club at Edgewater

The Edgewater also has a Fitness Center with machines to work every muscle and even a yoga room.

Fitness Room at Edgewater

When you are done exercising, there is a sauna and pool. Check schedule for exercise classes here. The public is welcome to join in the fun, you don’t have to be a guest.

Edgewater Pool

Upstairs a floor from here is a salon and spa, a great place to be pampered! Also a couples massage room and a private one as well.

Edgewater Spa

Now for the large spaces within the hotel. The Mendota Ballroom was occupied at the time of our visit, so Julie took us to the Grand Ballroom. It can be divided into three sections if a party only needs part of the room.  The back section has the veranda with outdoor seating.

Grand Ballroom at Edgewater Grand Ballroom at Edgewater

We finish our tour with a greater appreciation of this Madison institution and plan on coming back soon.  In the summer, The Boathouse Restaurant will open and we can enjoy a meal al fresco.

Boathouse sign at Edgewater

Cross Plains – Famous for Friendliness


Cross Plains Sign


Cross Plains is a community of 3500 in Dane County, incorporated in 1920. It is also known as the “Gateway to the Driftless Area” of Wisconsin. It was named by one of the early settlers named Berry Haney.  He was from Cross Plains, Tennessee and named the community after his hometown. On the east edge of town is a marker honoring Haney and his business, Haney Tavern.

Haney's Tavern Marker in Cross Plains

We began our tour with breakfast at the Cross Plains Family Restaurant.  Friendliness and good food is the cornerstone of this great restaurant, open in June 2014.  Stop by for a great meal if you are visiting the area! The restaurant is in Glacier’s Edge Square Shopping Center on the eastern edge of town. Piggly Wiggly is the anchor business here.


Cross Plains Family Restaurant


Glacier's Edge Shopping Center

After breakfast we took a look at the Cross Plains Historical Society Museum building, the former St. Martin church. We will have to come back when it is open. It is just behind the shopping center.

Cross Plains Historical SocietyCross Plains Historical Museum hours

 We continue down Main St. and see many thriving businesses and historic buildings. On our left is the Crossroads Coffee House, waking up Cross Plains since 2007.

Cross Plains Downtown

Kurt’s on Main bar and volleyball in the summer. Also True Value.

Kurt's in Cross Plains

Just off of Main is the American Legion -Post 245  and a Veteran’s Memorial. I went to a wedding reception there in 1998.

Cross Plains American Legion and Vets Memorial


Back on Main is one of the oldest buildings in the town, a former general store called the Plain Good building.

The Plain Good Building in Cross Plains


Plain Good Building plaque in Cross Plains


Another historic building across from the Plain Good building. We do not yet know of its history.

Historic building in Cross Plains

 Further down the street is Jodie’s Bar and Grill.

Jodie's Bar and Grill in Cross Plains

 Get your dog groomed at Salon Fido.

Salon Fido in Cross Plains

 Enjoy some bowling at Main Street Lanes.

Main Street Lanes

 Behind Main St. flows the Black Earth Creek with a bridge going across and a recreational path.

Black Earth Creek and bridge in Cross Plains

And here is one of the town’s favorite places to eat, Coach’s Club.  We will eat there the next time we visit.

Coach's Club in Cross Plains

Now we reach the end of Main St. before leaving town.  Before we do, there are some other places to see first.

Main Street end in Cross Plains

 We saw a couple other historic buildings. We don’t know the history of this one yet.

Cross Plains historic house


The Old Stone Dental Building is quite beautiful. It was constructed in 1849 by Peter Hill. It has been many things over time, but became a dental office by 2002.

Old Stone Dental Building in Cross Plains

 Visit the Cross Plains Brewery also.  A proud history going back to  1852. Read this recent article about the brewer. Get Esser’s Best beer here.

Cross Plains Brewery

When the Historical Society Museum isn’t open, you can learn more about Cross Plains at the Rosemary Garfoot Public Library.  It also holds the distinction of being the first “green” library in Wisconsin. They always have something going on there, check their website for the latest events!

Rosemary Garfoot Library collage in Cross Plains

Cross Plains also has a supper club called The Hilltop Inn at 4173 County Rd. P. They have been there over 40 years! A great place to celebrate a special event or Wednesday AND Friday Fish Fry!

The Hilltop Inn in Cross Plains

 We had a great visit to Cross Plains and hope to make it to one of their many festivals this year.