New mini-docs show us how artists try to create a better Milwaukee

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How does Milwaukee shape its most creative people? How do those people use their creativity to shape the city in return?

Answering big questions like that requires a big effort, which is exactly what you get in a new series from Nō Studios, the collaborative workspace and community founded by Milwaukee native and Oscar winner John Ridley.

For “Creating Milwaukee,” the Nō Studios production team partnered with Milwaukee Magazine on mini-documentaries focused on the city’s musicians and other artists. The official synopsis is below, but jump down a little farther to watch the premiere episode, and it won’t take you long to see what this series is all about.

Rising reggaeton duo Gego y Nony step into the spotlight first, giving you a chance to get to know the two brothers before they jump on stage Saturday for Radio Milwaukee’s 15th Birthday Party. Plus you get a few cameos from our own Kenny Perez.

Find 10 minutes in your day to watch. It’s well worth it.

“Creating Milwaukee” synopsis

Milwaukee is a complex historical tapestry. Within concrete wastelands, amidst cream city brick rises our city of today. Business sprouts in the factories of yesteryear. Old haunts become new destinations. In this series, we speak to artists whose work was woven by this landscape and trace the thread back to this new Milwaukee.


Our fall drive starts Oct. 5. But thanks to Radio Milwaukee Board Member Lacey Sadoff, who’s matching donations dollar for dollar, your gift today does twice as much to help us meet our goal so we can keep bringing you stories like these!

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One of Wisconsin’s Avengers made their television debut this week

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There’s a subset of people (Martin Scorsese for one) who think this whole superhero thing has gotten out of control. Movies, TV shows, podcasts — they’ve taken over popular culture and destroyed everything in their path like the Hulk (original recipe, not Professor Hulk).

I have terrible news for those people: We’ve barely scratched the surface.

Very quickly, I should note I’m a Marvel fan of the new-media variety. I don’t recall having ever bought a comic book, although I deeply appreciate and respect anyone who has and would never disparage them or fail to recognize the foundational role of print media in the current landscape of superhero properties printing money as fast as metahumanly possible. Also, I did my level best to gather accurate information for the following in the limited time available. Please don’t yell at me online.

So, how deep does this superhero thing go? So deep that, at one point, Wisconsin had its own team of Avengers. Not in a tangential reality or multiverse situation. In the main continuity of Marvel Comics. And their headquarters was in Milwaukee.

This came to my attention during this week’s episode of She-Hulk (spoiler alert I guess?) in which a guy named Craig Hollis, aka Mr. Immortal, needed legal representation for defrauding nine people. How? He wriggled his way out of nine marriages by using his ability to resurrect himself almost immediately after dying.

Mr. Immortal from Great Lakes Avengers (2016) #3 cover art by Will Robson. (Courtesy: Marvel Database)

If you’re thinking, “This is exactly the kind of weird-ass character Marvel would send if evil forces attacked Hales Corners,” you’re right.

Because this is a comic-book situation, there are a lot of ins and out and what-have-yous. But the short version is that Mr. Immortal founded the Great Lakes Avengers with other heroes possessing … similarly unique skill sets:

  • Flatman can flatten and stretch his body
  • Doorman can create an entrance to any structure
  • Leather Boy has no superpowers and was pretty quickly kicked off the team
  • Dinah Soar is a humanoid, pterosaur-like species who speaks a language nobody can understand except Mr. Immortal because they’re soul mates
  • Big Bertha (cringey name, yes) can manipulate her tissue and uses the power to be both supermodel and superhero

Did they meet for the first time in a YMCA? Yes, they did. Did they get in trouble from the real Avengers for using that term without permission? You betcha. Did they once fend off a holiday attack from a forest of evil pine trees sent by a villain named Dr. Tannenbaum? Absolutely.

The original lineup of the Great Lakes Avengers. (Courtesy: Marvel Database)

The team has a long and complex history. They changed their name about 74 times, added and subtracted members (including Squirrel Girl, who has a delightful podcast miniseries), became the government-sanctioned protectors of Wisconsin, and relocated to Detroit (boo). 

But if you like your superhero teams more off-beat and closer to home, it’s worth looking them up. Then, in 15 years, when Marvel Studios is really scraping the barrel for intellectual property, you can say you knew them before they were famous.

(Special thanks to everyone who contributed to the Marvel Database that I ferociously clicked around to gather information until my Chrome browser caught fire and exploded.)


Our fall drive starts Oct. 5. But thanks to Radio Milwaukee Board Member Lacey Sadoff, who’s matching donations dollar for dollar, your gift today does twice as much to help us meet our goal so we can keep bringing you stories like these!

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Downtown mural of Grace Weber is an ode to music and the 414

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Back on April 14 of this year, also known as “414 Day” in Milwaukee, singer Grace Weber debuted the aptly titled “414,” a song featuring Mudy that rang out through a capacity Opening Day crowd at American Family Field later that night.

The song quickly latched on as a Milwaukee anthem, primarily in an audio format, obviously. But more recently, it took on a new form as a mural in the heart of downtown.

Located in an alleyway on the back side of the Plankinton Loft Apartments (the former Grand Avenue Mall) on North 2nd Street between Wisconsin Avenue and Michigan Street, the groovy three-story mural depicts Weber dancing with a pair of headphones on. The back of her jacket in the painting shows a 414 patch and the phrase “city raised us,” a lyric from her song.

You’ll also find familiar landmarks and symbols like the Milwaukee Pierhead Light, “The Calling” sculpture, a Harley-Davidson motorcycle and the Rockwell Automation clock tower.

A mural in downtown Milwaukee commemorating Grace Weber’s song, “414.” (Photo courtesy: Dan Reiner)

More lyrics from the song’s chorus cover the adjoining three stories of walkways that connect the building to a parking structure: “Hometown love is what we’re made of.”

Milwaukee Downtown Business Improvement District No. 21 worked with Weber — a Milwaukee native and the namesake of Radio Milwaukee’s Music Lab — and local artist Sid Ylagan on the design.

“We wanted it to celebrate everything we love about the city, and its amazing art and music scene,” Weber said. “I’m so excited this celebration of ‘414’ and Milwaukee is a part of the downtown landscape and can’t wait for people to check it out.”


Our fall drive starts Oct. 5. But thanks to Radio Milwaukee Board Member Lacey Sadoff, who’s matching donations dollar for dollar, your gift today does twice as much to help us meet our goal so we can keep bringing you stories like these!

Milwaukee-based artist Sid Ylagan working on a three-story mural of Grace Weber. (Photo courtesy: the artist’s website)
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Marquette seniors split $93,000 prize on ‘Beat Shazam’

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We all have those moments when a song comes on and you know the words but can’t think of the title or artist. So we pull out the old smartphone to give us the answer in seconds. But the FOX show “Beat Shazam” keeps it old school, challenging contestants to know the song within a few beats.

Marquette students Alex Mirsberger and Stephen Poorten proved to be just about as good as the song-knowing app, taking home $93,000 as the grand-prize winners in the episode that aired Monday.

“Are you guys old enough?” host Jamie Foxx quipped during the introductions. “These guys look like they could be in ‘Stranger Things’ or something.”

Poorten told Foxx that he and Mirsberger met through Marquette’s athletics department. Poorten is a former cross-country runner, while Mirsberger still plays on the men’s soccer team. Mirsberger revealed that — at the time of taping — the pair would graduate from the university in five days.

Mirsberger, a redshirt senior and 2021 all-conference performer, graduated from Brookfield Central High School, while Poorten hails from Sycamore, Ill.

Marquette students Alex Mirsberger and Stephen Poorten with host Jamie Foxx. (Image courtesy: “Beat Shazam” on FOX)

Competing against two other teams, the youngsters squeaked into the second round by knowing “Sucker” by the Jonas Brothers and “Right Round” by Flo Rida quicker than the others.

In a $12,000 hole entering the final head-to-head round, the Marquette friends stormed back by knowing the instrumentals to The Who’s “Baba O’Riley” and LMFAO’s “Party Rock Anthem.” On the deciding song, Mirsberger and Poorten were faster in knowing the beats to “You Should Be Dancing” by the Bee Gees, moving on with $43,000 in the bank.

The final round offered five songs valued at $25,000 per chance if they knew the exact song title, and the duo knew two: “Something Just Like This” by Coldplay and “Landslide” by Fleetwood Mac. They missed “Lean on Me” by Bill Withers, “Again” by Lenny Kravitz and “Could You Be Loved” by Bob Marley and the Wailers.

When asked what they’ll do with their winnings, both said they’d use some of the money to pay off student-loan debt.


Our fall drive starts Oct. 5. But thanks to Radio Milwaukee Board Member Lacey Sadoff, who’s matching donations dollar for dollar, your gift today does twice as much to help us meet our goal so we can keep bringing you stories like these!

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Oh joy, Malört Fest returns this weekend

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Jeppson’s Malört is the liquor that you either love to hate or hate to love.

The sickos lovers of Malört may find pleasure in pain, or a shot of the stuff may bring back memories of foggy nights at their favorite midwest college bar. Others (i.e., this author) think Malört tastes like dirty hand sanitizer. The point is, if you’ve tried this Chicago-borne booze, you certainly have an opinion on it.

If you enjoy sharing those opinions, we suggest heading to Malört Fest at Ray’s Growler Gallery this Saturday, Aug. 27, from 3 to 10 p.m.

Started in 2019 and returning this year after a COVID hiatus, Ray’s Malört Fest is just what it sounds like: a celebration of Chicago’s most infamous spirit. On the menu is a Malört-based “Chicago Citrus Slushie” and “Uncle Carl’s Happy Boilermaker,” which is a shot of Malört and a pint of Third Space Brewing’s Happy Place. There’s also free hot dogs and Jeppson’s “swag.”

The niche festival featuring a divisive Chicago product coincides with another divisive Chicago product coming to town for the I-94 rivalry, as the Brewers take on the Cubs at 6:10 p.m.

“While beer is the best olive branch we can extend as Milwaukeeans, Chicago will be represented by a spirit about as unique as their sports history, because in all the world there is no liquor quite like Jeppson’s,” the Facebook event page reads.

Want to see the pain a shot of Malört causes? Check out the gallery below. We also teamed up with the Milwaukee Record back in 2019 in advance of the inaugural fest to get 25 instant “Malört Face” reactions, but we didn’t want to subject their team to that awfulness again.


Our fall drive starts Oct. 5. But thanks to Radio Milwaukee Board Member Lacey Sadoff, who’s matching donations dollar for dollar, your gift today does twice as much to help us meet our goal so we can keep bringing you stories like these!

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Miller High Life and PBR take dive bars in new and exciting directions

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Would you rather sleep in a dive bar or taste a dive bar? Thanks to a couple creative partnerships from a pair of beloved Milwaukee beer brands, you don’t have to choose.

First up, we have Miller High Life: “The Champagne of Beers” featuring the whimsical Girl in the Moon neck label is now an ice cream bar. The new variety from New York’s Tipsy Scoop is called Miller High Life Ice Cream Dive Bars, and the location-inspired ingredients list is really something:

  • High Life-infused ice cream with a 5% ABV
  • Peanut swirl to account for the preferred floor-littering snack of dive bars everywhere
  • Hint of tobacco smoke flavor because some states still let you do that in bars
  • Caramel swirl to represent the sticky floor you forget about between bathroom trips
  • Sprinkle of carbonated candy for that “Champagne of Beers” bubbliness
  • Dark-chocolate dip because no self-respecting dive bar could ever be described as “well-lit”

Because human beings are a naturally curious bunch, the bars have oscillated between sold out and available during this writing. But you can try buying a six-pack (of course) here for $36 before shipping, which more than doubled the price after I entered the address here at Radio Milwaukee. Good luck, I guess.

(Photo courtesy: Miller High Life)

On the sleepier side of things, Pabst Blue Ribbon teamed up with the Grand Traverse Motel in Traverse City, Mich., to offer weary travelers and beer-lovers alike the chance to stay in one of three PBR-themed rooms.

The experience — which is somehow not called either a “PB-AirBnB” or “AirBnBnB” (the extra “B” stands for “beer”) — includes the Arcade Room, the Dive Bar and the Rec Room. The first two were sold out as of this writing, while the Rec Room still had availability because it seems sleeping in your grandma’s basement isn’t quite as enticing as the other options.

You can check out photos below, all of which are courtesy of the Grand Traverse Motel.


Our fall drive starts Oct. 5. But thanks to Radio Milwaukee Board Member Lacey Sadoff, who’s matching donations dollar for dollar, your gift today does twice as much to help us meet our goal so we can keep bringing you stories like these!

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How to see the rare J.R.R. Tolkien manuscripts on display in Milwaukee

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History buffs and fans of “Lord of the Rings” and “The Hobbit” alike will have the rare opportunity to view the original writings of J.R.R. Tolkien this fall at Marquette University’s Haggerty Museum of Art.

J.R.R. Tolkien: The Art of the Manuscript” will include nearly 150 items, many that have not been previously exhibited or published.

Among the collection are original manuscripts and multiple working drafts for three of the English author’s most celebrated books: “The Hobbit,” “The Lord of the Rings” and “Farmer Giles of Ham,” as well as the original copy of children’s book “Mr. Bliss.” It will also include a significant number of Tolkien manuscripts and artwork from the Bodleian Libraries at the University of Oxford.

One of the pieces from Marquette University’s collection of J.R.R. Tolkien manuscripts. (Photo courtesy: Marquette University website)

The J.R.R. Tolkien Collection is housed at Marquette’s Raynor Memorial Libraries‘ Department of Special Collections and University Archives. A selection of Tolkien’s materials was originally purchased by the university in 1957 for £1,500 (less than $5,000), and the “Lord of the Rings” manuscripts arrived in 1958 — long before the notoriety it has today.

The exhibit opens Friday, Aug. 19, and runs through Dec. 23. Tickets are on sale now at $10 for general admission, and $8 for senior citizens and active duty U.S. military members.


Our fall drive starts Oct. 5. But thanks to Radio Milwaukee Board Member Lacey Sadoff, who’s matching donations dollar for dollar, your gift today does twice as much to help us meet our goal so we can keep bringing you stories like these!

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At long last, the Bucks are bringing back the purple uniforms

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Growing up in the 1990s and early 2000s, there was nothing like watching Ray Allen, Glenn Robinson and Sam Cassell fill the stat sheet for the Milwaukee Bucks while sporting the team’s purple and green.

But as the stars departed, so did the team’s success, and the purple primaries followed suit, going away after the 2005-06 season. Now, after years of fans calling for a return of the classic look, the Bucks announced Thursday that the purple fits are back for the 2022-23 season.

The new “Light It Up” Classic Edition uniforms are the latest addition to the fold of slick uniforms for the 2021 NBA Champions. Last month, the Bucks unveiled updated black “Fear the Dear” Statement uniforms. There’s also a new City Edition uniform in the pipeline, which the team will reveal later this year.

The purple threads are a near-identical replica of the ones worn from 1993-2006, with the Bucks wordmark and numbers in silver, and white and green trim around the sleeves, neck and shorts. The shorts also include a thick green stripe on the side and notably feature the team’s primary triangular deer logo used until the 2016 rebranding. Finally, the jersey is topped off with the classic Nike wordmark and swoosh.

Fans can pre-order their “Light It Up” Classic Edition jerseys now at shop.bucks.com, with a full collection available close to the start of the season in October.


Our fall drive starts Oct. 5. But thanks to Radio Milwaukee Board Member Lacey Sadoff, who’s matching donations dollar for dollar, your gift today does twice as much to help us meet our goal so we can keep bringing you stories like these!

(Photo courtesy: Milwaukee Bucks Twitter)
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Center Street Daze: pushcarts, pucks, music and a big milestone

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In case a two-year COVID break didn’t generate enough pent-up enthusiasm, the Riverwest neighborhood has the perfect reason to crank things up for this year’s Center Street Daze Festival: a 25th anniversary celebration.

That’s right, this year marks a quarter-century of the festival held on — you guessed it — Center Street between Humboldt and Holton from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. this Saturday, Aug. 13. There will be:

  • People-powered vehicles in the Art Cart races at noon.
  • Fuel-powered vehicles in the Unique Classic Car Club Show from 1:30-5:30 p.m.
  • Hockey-stick-powered projectiles flying around the Carnival Games located at the playground on Pierce and Center streets from 3-6 p.m.

You’ll also get plenty of Milwaukee food, beverages and other products from 100+ vendors, and (mostly) Milwaukee music on eight different stages. The full lineup is below, along with a couple can’t-miss selections from two of our Radio Milwaukee tastemakers.

Before they toured with Brandi Carlile, Sista Strings played Company Brewing at Center Street Daze in 2019. (Photo courtesy: Center Street Daze Facebook)

Staff picks from DJ Kenny Perez

Puerto Wiccan, 4:50 p.m. @ the 4th Dimension Stage
If you haven’t seen her videos for “Big Drip (feat. Illie)” and “New Me,” I suggest you prepare yourselves for a raw, in-your-face experience. This artist spent the pandemic preparing and impatiently waiting for her time. That time is now.

BLAX, 6 p.m. @ Company Brewing
Formerly known as Armstrong Ransome, this Milwaukee-based rapper is no stranger to the stage. I’m looking forward to hearing the live interpretation of his latest project, “Angeline.” You can count on the show being packed with lyrical content that educates and stirs emotion.

Staff picks from Music Director Erin Wolf

The Majestics, 4 p.m. @ Club Timbuktu
The focus of Radio Milwaukee’s “Backspin” podcast, the Majestics broke boundaries with their 1982 single “Class A,” Milwaukee’s first rap song. Their B-side ballad, “Key To Love,” was covered a couple years back by Toronto jazz-fusion collective BADBADNOTGOOD. Catching the live energy of this band is always a treat. Do yourself a favor and bring your dancing shoes.

Brat Sounds, 3 p.m. @ Company Brewing
Brat Sounds (no, not like the sausage) are one of those groups that hang out under the radar for a while, then suddenly have a bunch of shows (and then a full album!). The fun-loving and frenetic pop-punk band are prepping a record, so get ready to hear some new songs — also, some great covers, which they’re pretty fond of including in their set. There’s a good chance you might be treated to a heartwarming rendition of Mister Rogers’ “It’s You I Like.”

Kendraplex & The Cosmic Impact Channel, 1 p.m. @ the Jazz Gallery
Kendra Amalie is one of Milwaukee’s most-interesting guitarists (and musicians), morphing from solo, psych-folk guitarist with a penchant for the mystic to the leader of rock-ier Chicago x MKE group Names Divine (for which she slings a 12-string acoustic guitar) to a veritable electronic explorer as Kendraplex. In “Two Rivers,” her latest release under the moniker, Amalie travels to winding and languid vs. crunchy and compacted spaces, taking the listener on a sonic journey of her own designs. Expand your musical mind with this set.

Music lineup

Uptowner
Noon – Funk Wagon
1 p.m. – Kush Trio
2 p.m. – Bristlehead
3 p.m. – Voot Warnings
4 p.m. – Alex Wilson Family
5 p.m. – Bellends

The Jazz Gallery
1 p.m. – Kendraplex & The Cosmic Impact Channel
2:30 p.m. – Urbanites
4 p.m. – Jesse Montijo & Star People
5:30 p.m. – The Dave Bayles Group

Company Brewing
1 p.m. – DPCD
2 p.m. – Fellow Kinsman
3 p.m. – Brat Sounds
4 p.m. – Gold Steps
5 p.m. – Steddy P (Kansas City)
6 p.m. – BLAX

Quarter’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Palace
1 p.m. – The Honolulu Millionaires
1:45 p.m. – O’Neill and Wean
2:30 p.m. – Anson Obvious Trio
3:15 p.m. – Floor Model
4 p.m. – Billy Dreamer
4:45 p.m. – Bellhead
5:30 p.m. – Secondhand Souls
6:15 p.m. – Highball Holiday

Club Timbuktu
4 p.m. – The Majestics

High Dive
Noon – Killa Kuttz (War Drum Crew)
1 p.m. – Kid Millions (Dope Folks Records)
2 p.m. – Opiated Black (The Get Down)
3 p.m. – Biggie (Love Tempo)
4 p.m. – Selector Max (Kingston BuRiAL)
5 p.m. – Mosh Wah (Luv Unlimited)
6 p.m. – David Arnevik (Love Tempo)

4th Dimension Stage
1 p.m. – DJ
2 p.m. – Krista Jane
2:35 p.m. – Dusty Pockets
3:10 p.m. – Samantha Kent
3:40 p.m. – DJ intermission
4:15 p.m. – B.u.
4:50 p.m. – Puerto Wiccan
5:25 p.m. – Bad Year


Our fall drive starts Oct. 5. But thanks to Radio Milwaukee Board Member Lacey Sadoff, who’s matching donations dollar for dollar, your gift today does twice as much to help us meet our goal so we can keep bringing you stories like these!

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Inject some weird into your Wisconsin State Fair experience

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Everyone who’s been to the Wisconsin State Fair knows the layups — the obvious stuff you do every year. See some animals. Abandon your diet. Listen to many, many … many cover bands.

Rather than rehash the usual, we decided we could be more helpful by pointing you toward the more unique aspects of this year’s event. So read on, potential fair-goer, and find things to do, things to eat and one day in particular that strays far from the beaten path.

Entertainment

Ester Flonaze Drag Queen Bingo & Variety Show
2 p.m. daily @ the Lakefront Brewery Beer Garden

How does the first drag queen to perform at Wisconsin State Fair raise the bar above bingo in year two? Make it a variety hour. In an interview with WISN 12, Ester specifically mentioned adding couples games, and it sounded like the process of imagining all the possibilities wasn’t quite done yet. One thing you can absolutely count on: a good time.

“Every time I do it, I just want to make people more and more comfortable,” Ester told WISN. “It’s just bingo. I’m just having fun. I’m giving away prizes. I just want people to be able to come and get along with everybody. That’s really my goal when I do this: just to bring people together.”

Mark Hayward: Yo-Yo Tricks & Juggling
Various times, Aug. 4-9 @ the Wilderness Resort Family Variety Stage

Sure, the State Fair has champions. Many of them are livestock. But how many are WORLD champions? Mark Hayward is. And his audience interaction is much, much better.

The 1995 Masters Division World Yo-Yo Champion has appeared on “The Late Show With David Letterman” and “The Late Late Show With James Corden.” Now, you can see him bend the laws of physics to his will at “The Afternoon and Occasional Evening Show With Pretty Much Just Mark Hayward.”

The Milking Parlor
Various times daily @ the Ag Village

Where does milk come from? Yes, the grocery store. Before that. OK, you probably know. But have you ever actually seen it happen or have a real live milking professional explain the process to you? Probably not.

The Wisconsin State Fair Dairy Promotion Board wants you to leave the grounds having a better understanding of what is arguably our state’s most important ingestible liquid. There are demonstrations on the hour between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. Cows get the odd-numbered times, and goats — yes, GOATS — get the even-numbered times.

Eat-ertainment

Let’s do this from least adventurous to most. First off, you’ve got your Clam Chowder Fries at Goonies Fish & Beer Shack. Sounds off-putting initially, but stop for a second, and the idea gets more palatable. Then you’ve got your Flamin’ Hot Cheetos Chicken On-a-Stick at the Bud Pavilion. Definitely for the more gastrointestinally hearty. Also, Pickle-Flavored Cotton Candy at Pickle Barrel (duh) for those who always thought spun sugar needed to be more brine-y.

OK, now, you’re not ready for this. You think you are. You think, “Hey, the State Fair has weird food every year. You can’t surprise me.” Here we go:

Bug-crusted desserts.

The Bug Apple available at All Things Jerky. (Photo courtesy: Wisconsin State Fair website)

We’re not talking about things that look like bugs so you can pretend. Actual bugs. As in the Bug Apple at All Things Jerky and, when you need to cool down, the Arctic Bug Blast Slush at Exotic Meat Grill. The latter includes a scorpion, which we assume has been de-stingered. Probably worth asking.

Sunday funday

In scouring the Wisconsin State Fair lineup, we stumbled on a nearly full day of offbeat options: Sunday, Aug. 14. Use the food and entertainment we already covered to fill in any gaps, and you have a pretty fantastic Fair finale:

  • 2:30 p.m. — Whole Yachta Love @ the Bud Pavilion. Yacht rock played by musicians that look like the cast of a “Below Deck” spin-off? Yes, please.
  • 3:45 p.m. — The Squeezettes @ Major Goolsby’s Heartland. Power polka pop is both wonderful alliteration and highly entertaining.
  • 6 p.m. — Flex at the Fair @ the Bank Five Nine Amphitheater. It’s more than a bodybuilding and physique competition; it’s a celebration of people who didn’t touch any of the Fair’s food options.

Our fall drive starts Oct. 5. But thanks to Radio Milwaukee Board Member Lacey Sadoff, who’s matching donations dollar for dollar, your gift today does twice as much to help us meet our goal so we can keep bringing you stories like these!

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