by Ian Stepleton
Here it is again.
The end of the road.
Or is it the beginning?
Well, one thing is for certain.
Summer is over.
But, as I try to remind readers each fall, that doesn’t mean that the fun must come to an end around Green Laker country.
Sure, swimming weather is gone for the season, and you’ll be hard-pressed to get a nice tan this time of year.
Yet the area offers plenty of activities and events to (hopefully!) keep you coming back for the next eight months.
“[There is] so much to return for,” said Chris Scott of the Markesan Chamber of Commerce.In addition to “great festivals and events throughout the area,” she noted, Scott reminded readers that the “area has so many activities: biking, boating, birding, budget-hunting, great trails to snowmobile in the winter all around the area.”
And if that’s not enough?
Why not simply enjoy the grand views nature provides in the area year-round?
Whether snow-dappled or sun-baked, Green Laker country can be beautiful to visit.
“[It offers] great beauty in the lakes and country sides for fall and winter interest,” Scott said.
Liane Walsh, executive director of the Green Lake Area Chamber of Commerce agrees.
“The beauty of the fall season [is worth returning for],” she said, pointing to the colorful beauty of “leaves, leaves, leaves.”
Want something specific to check out?
Walsh also listed off numerous events to take in over the coming months, including a Tour of Homes Oct. 9, Winefest Nov. 19 at the Heidel House, monthly Bingo at Town Square, Breakfast with Santa in early December or even winter fisheries and a trout derby the first weekend in March.
Or, try “biking through the countryside for a nice fall ride,” Walsh suggested.
Spending time a little further west?
Beth Pelland, director of the Princeton Area Chamber of Commerce, also encourages visitors to get outside and get active in her community.
“Princeton has loads to offer year round! In our winter months we enjoy snowmobiling, ice skating, ice fishing, and cross-country skiing,” she said, adding plenty of indoor opportunities abound as well. “Did I mention our charming, four-lane bowling alley? Where else can you find unique shopping to include: two antique malls, fair trade and echo-friendly clothing and products as well as an artist you can watch create her masterpieces while you stroll in her store!
“Princeton has something for everyone. Come and see the treasures you can find in our quaint little town. The best part of Princeton I am sure you will agree is our friendly people!”
Looking for something scheduled?
If you rush out now, you can catch the last flea markets of the season.
This Princeton treasure (that’s what you find at a flea market, right?) continues through Oct. 15.
Or, get into the holiday mood Thanksgiving weekend, when Princeton kicks off the Christmas season with a tree lighting Nov. 25, a visit from Santa, shopping, lighted parade, trees and more. Events are held throughout the weekend.
Other Christmas-themed activities run through the end of the month, while New Year’s Eve will be celebrated with a bowling tournament.
And keep your eyes peeled later in the winter — say, January or February.
“Princeton is working on a possible Winter Festival,” Pelland said.
Princeton may be creating a new one, but an old favorite of the season already exists in Ripon: Dickens of a Christmas.
Perhaps that’s why Ripon Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Jason Mansmith said, “Some of the best times to visit Ripon are during the winter months.”
So, what’s on the docket this winter in Ripon?
“We celebrate the holidays beginning with Christmas in the Village which will take place Nov. 11 and 12,” he said, noting a big change is coming to Ripon’s best-known event. “We are excited to be holding our 26th-annual Dickens of a Christmas event Dec. 2 to 4.
“For Dickens this year we have moved Living Windows from a Friday evening event to a Saturday evening event from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. [Instead,] on Friday evening we will be hosting ‘Fezziwig’s Festival’ from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Enjoy visits by Santa Claus, see live reindeer, take a horse and carriage ride, join us for a tree-lighting ceremony, an ice sculptor and a new fun event: the ‘Fruitcake Toss.’”
Other Dickens favorites also return, such as the quilt show, Enchanted Forest, Tour of Homes, Dress-A-Doll Contest and Christmas Crèche displays.
Though Dickens is fun, Mansmith notes Ripon offers other wonderful reasons to return.
“Winter is also a great time to enjoy the great trails and recreational opportunities that are available,” he said. “Enjoy a day on the trails, or snow shoeing through South Woods, or even sledding at Ripon College.
“If the snow and cold are not your thing there are plenty of shopping opportunities to provide some ‘retail therapy’ or stop in at our local winery or brewery to enjoy a nice, relaxing beverage or two.
“The winter is a great time to come and visit and there is certainly no shortage of fun and exciting experiences to have!”
There you have it: so many reasons to keep coming back.
But for now, it’s time for me to sign off for the season.
See you next summer!