Splash: Warm up to summer by cooling off in Laker Country

Pipes and nozzles for Ripon’s new splash pad wait to be unwrapped and squirt back as they sit in the rain May 17.  Maic D’Agostino photo

by Maic D’Agostino

A couple weeks ago, my 5-year-old daughter and I stepped outside on our way to school.

“It’s warmer than I thought it would be,” I said.

“Spring is finally here!” she shouted.

I guess in Wisconsin we’re lucky to get half a month of spring per year.

Because — don’t look now — summer already is upon us.

The air soon will be sweet and thick with Memorial Day barbecuing and late-night campfires.

The buzz of bees and baseballs will sing through parks and yards.

And while the freedom of the season will be felt across the Midwest, here in Green Laker country, we’ll be gearing up for our own unique brand of summertime fun.

Whether we’re pedaling around the Green Lake watershed, making a splash at Ripon’s long-anticipated splash pad or swapping fireworks for candles to mark the city of Berlin’s birthday, you can bet folks of the Green

Lake area will be enjoying the warm weather, by land or by water.

Let’s take a look at what’s happening in local communities this summer.


This year for sure.

Locals thought last year they’d be able to cool their heads at a brand new splash pad, but instead they’ve had to cool their heels.

Now, it’s really happening.

Set to be complete right around Memorial Day and fully open mid-June, Ripon’s splash pad will offer free summer fun for tykes, teens and uninhibited adults.

Of course, adults looking for fun that’s more — ahem — suitable for their age can stroll downtown Saturday, June 3 for a Wine Walk.

Those older than 21 can sip 10 different wines at various businesses which will serve as “tasting rooms.”

And don’t feel guilty: The proceeds go to support good causes, like Dickens of a Christmas and city beautification projects. So drink (moderately) and be merry!

Ripon may have lost its cookie factory last year, but just like wafer production has filled the ovens again, so too returns the city’s annual celebration of baked goods.

Cookie Daze will drop once more on Barlow Park Saturday, August 5, lest we forget that moment 25 years ago when Ripon baked the biggest, baddest cookie in the world.

With a new boutique,  Brinkley’s, on the square, J’s BBQ firing up its outdoor grill at its downtown location and the brand new Bovay’s Study Bay & Mercantile selling Ripon College gear next door, there are plenty of reasons to wander Main Street this summer.


This summer will mark a number of anniversaries around Berlin.

Those will kick off with a bang on Saturday, July 1 for a joint Independence Day and the city’s 160th birthday party.

The fun will include lots of food and crafts plus music, games and more.

Later that month, the Bugle Mouth Bass Tournament will celebrate its 40th year Saturday, July 29 with games and activities beyond bass angling that will make everyone want to hang up “Gone Fishing” signs.

But watch what you say and don’t go blowing your own bugle mouth.

“If you say the word ‘carp’ that day, you get fined a quarter,” said Debbie Dowen, a volunteer at the Berlin Chamber of Commerce.

(The chamber still is seeking an executive director, for any interested readers.)

Some of the proceeds from the event go to washing the Fox River’s mouth out, too, funding efforts to clear out carp from the waters.

Meanwhile, the 30th annual Street Cruzers Car Show will cruise into town Sunday, Aug. 13, following the weekend Corn Roast Friday and Saturday, Aug. 11 and 12. The car show highlights a different make and model each year.

But if you can’t wait for all that, check out improvements to the Riverside Park Campground which is open until Sunday, Oct. 15.

The park recently added camp sites and showers through sponsorships from civic groups.

The Eureka Lock and Dam also recently opened for the season, available on weekends or by calling the Berlin Boat Club at 920-361-BOAT.

Coming soon is the Berlin Farmers & Artists Market, held every Tuesday beginning Tuesday, June 6.


Berlin isn’t the only place marking a significant anniversary.

Markesan’s June Dairy Days will commemorate its 80th year, having begun in 1937 when free milk was given away at a local bank.

The festivities begin Friday, June 9, with a craft fair, a bike rodeo, a pig roast, live music and even fireworks.

The fun continues Saturday, June 10 with all day events.

But to get the full effect, you’ll have to wake up with the chickens — er, cows.

Special guests will arrive red carpet-style bright and early that morning at 8:30 a.m. at Hein Park.

Following that will be a recognition ceremony at the City Garage at 9:30. Between 7 and 10:30 a.m., festival goers can get a country-style breakfast at the same location.

Games and music will be played throughout the day ’til the cows come home.

Dairy Days will wrap up Sunday, June 11 with a Markesan Lions Club “Famous Chicken BBQ” beginning at 11 a.m. at Soldiers & Sailors Park on Little Green Lake.

But you don’t have to wait to get a taste of Markesan.

Those hungering for local food can visit Markesan Outdoor Farmers Market Saturdays from 8 a.m. to noon through September.

Markesan will polish off summer with its Augustfest Saturday Aug. 19, an event noted for its corn, corn and more corn.

But, hey, there’s nothing corny about summer fun in Markesan.

Green Lake

Test your mettle with the pedal for 100 miles of gorgeous Green Lake landscape to kick off summer.

Bicycle enthusiasts — or those just looking for a pleasant Sunday ride — will be able to delight in the Green Lake 100 bike ride around the Green Lake watershed Sunday, May 28.

Riders will choose which of four courses they want, ranging from a 100-mile loop along the lake’s extensive watershed to a 22-mile cruise on Huckleberry Road.

Each begins and ends at Deacon Mills Park in downtown Green Lake.

The ride is meant to accomplish more than exercise set to beautiful scenery.

“Our hope is to bring awareness to the watershed,” said Roberta Martin, assistant director of the Green Lake Area Chamber of Commerce, “because the lake is our most important asset.”

Plus, proceeds can help future biking in the area.

“The more riders that sign up, the more likely we will be able to improve trails and signage in the area,” Martin said.

Cyclists can sign up for $65 online at greenlake100.com until Friday, May 26 at 2 p.m.

But if you miss that deadline, you still can ride!

Riders can sign up for a $75 fee both at the chamber, 550 Mill St. in Green Lake, Saturday, May 27 from 9 a.m. until noon or on site the day of until 10 a.m.

Registered participants will be treated to a spaghetti dinner and live entertainment following the ride, while non-pedaling guests can join them for $6.

Of course, there’s much more going on in town throughout the summer.

Splash into Summer and Chalk Walk once again will combine for two scoops of summertime fun June 10.

Chalkers of all talent levels will deck out sidewalks that Saturday.

“We get fine artists all the way down to little kids,” Martin said. “So it’s really fun.”

Meanwhile, the ever-popular Wednesday Concerts in the Park series will include a uniquely royal event at the July 12 Family Picnic Night: crowning the Green Lake County “Fairest of the Fair” contest winner.


If you aren’t busy biking around the countryside Sunday, May 28, you can have a fling in Princeton.

A chicken fling, that is. Rubber chickens.

Called “the silliest event around” by Beth Pelland, director of the Princeton Chamber of Commerce, the Annual Rubber Chicken Fling is exactly what it sounds like.

Just as young and old alike are encouraged to throw rubber chickens, all age groups can also enjoy beverages at Brew HaHa 2017! Saturday, July 15.

With more than 75 brews available, the event will include craft beers for the older crowd and root beer and other specialty sodas for those who don’t drink alcohol, making the midsummer gathering a family-friendly evening.

If beer isn’t your drink of choice, Que Syrah Syrah will offer wine and cheese tasting to participants Saturday, July 29.

Bird migration often marks the end of summer, and it’s no different in Princeton.

The Whooping Crane Festival will fly into town Saturday, September 9.

“This wonderful event celebrates the under 600 whooping cranes in existence, and we partner with Operation Migration on this event,” Pelland said.

So, get out the sunscreen, because there’s plenty to see and do in Green Lake Country this summer.

See you out there!