Light up your Fox Cities visit with NEON!

Written by: Mary Rhode, Marketing & Communications Manager

I had the opportunity to get a sneak peak at the new exhibit opening up at the History Museum at the Castle. The exhibit is called NEON: Darkness Electrified and opened Nov. 12 and runs until Fall 2015. Being so passionate about marketing and advertising, I knew this exhibit would be right up my alley. Most of these signs were once on the sides of businesses in Wisconsin and other states. For those businesses that had more money to spend on their sign, they had flashing lights to attract more attention to their business. From large to small, these signs illuminate the past including some signs from the 1930’s. Even though these signs are quite beautiful to look at, there is also an educational component to this exhibit. For instance, I learned what makes neon glow and that the famous Northern Lights are created by the same phenomenon!

photo 1 (1)Today, when most people think of neon signs, they think of the beer signs that illuminate the windows of their favorite bar or restaurant. As this exhibit shows you, the beer signs of yesteryear were much simpler, yet still remain an iconic look at the past.

One of the more interesting displays, in my opinion, was the Florida Power Corporation photo 2 (2) (2)sign. This sign, circa 1950’s boasts blue, red and white glowing neon as well as the face of a character known as Reddy Kilowatt. This character was used nationwide to promote the use of electricity in the 1950’s. There even was a large sign with Reddy displayed along the Fox River in Appleton during that time.

High Cliff State Park…a geological gem

Posted by: Amy Karas, Convention Sales Representative

Growing up in Door County, I was surrounded by scenic shoreline and had plenty of parks available for swimming or hiking. When I moved to Appleton 9 years ago, I was excited to find that I could still enjoy nature while living in a bigger city. One of my favorite places to hike is at High Cliff State Park. The park is located on the northeastern shore of Lake Winnebago in Sherwood, Wisconsin, just a short 15 to 20 minute drive from Appleton, Wisconsin, the Fox Cities’ largest community.

High Cliff1High Cliff State Park has over 26 miles of trails including the Bike and Horse trails, Forest Management Trail, Butterfly Pond Trail, Indian Mound Trail and the Lime-Kiln Trail which is the one I hiked this past Thursday with friends and family. This trail is a combination of hiking near the Winnebago shoreline, in the steep Niagra Escarpment and through the kiln remains. From 1895 to 1956 a company town operated the limestone quarry in this area. All that remains today are the kiln ruins and the store. I have included pictures of the kiln ruins and other beautiful scenery from the Lime-Kiln Trail.

There are many other activities to do at High Cliff State Park for any season although the spring, summer and fall have the largest variety including picnicking, swimming, kayaking, canoeing, boating, biking, horseback riding and fishing. It is definitely worth climbing the tower to look out across the fields from the observation deck.

High Cliff3I have also utilized the group campsites which can hold up to 60 people and are separate from the family campground. The field in the middle of the group sites is perfect for volleyball nets and other recreational activities. During the winter months, the trails are converted to snowshoe and cross country ski paths as well. Visitors do need a state park sticker for entry. Day passes are also available.

The scenic 18-hole High Cliff Public Golf Course is located just outside of the park and overlooks the Niagra Escarpment and Winnebago shoreline. High Cliff Restaurant and Banquets is also just outside of the park and is open year round for events. If camping is not your thing, but you would still like to experience the park, golf course or banquet hall, arrange to stay at the High Cliff Resort Suites in Sherwood or any of our Fox Cities hotels just a short drive away.

Affordable family fun with a purpose!

Posted by:  Mary Ann Minten, Group Visitor Services Coordinator

get-attachmentLooking for an enjoyable, affordable family fun trip?  Not only is the Weis Earth Science Museum that, it is also a fantastic educational experience for all ages.  Located at the University of Wisconsin Fox Valley campus in Menasha, budget about an hour of your time as this well kept and laid out museum takes you to the roots of the earth….right down to the core!  At only $2 for adults and $1 for children, it’s a welcome break from staying home on an unpredictable Wisconsin weather day!

I enjoyed seeing the displays of unique rocks and stones, not only from our fine state but from all around the world!  Reading about the different periods of our earth’s development in a well laid out timeline was fascinating to me!  The kids especially enjoyed the fossil rubbing wall.  I think I came home with at least 20 chalk-rubbed sketches of the fossil templates from various time periods…a great educational art project that didn’t mess up my house!

If stones and rocks aren’t enough, see the Tyrannosaurus Rex skull replica in their dinosaur den.  They include an interesting story on his life and battles he might have fought as indicated by the missing bone fragments.

While there I noticed an area that was closed for a future exhibit.  I found out that the director is putting together a “Touching the Earth” exhibit for the blind and visually impaired to experience the various textures of rocks and fossils.  This will have braille and large print materials to get the complete experience.  She will also be adding blindfolds so everyone can experience this exhibit from a tactile sense as intended.  As a parent I know how every child loves to touch, so I can see this being a great time for all!

Thanks Weis Earth Science Museum for a great ‘field’ trip. I can’t wait to go back and ‘touch’ the new exhibit!

For more information visit: http://www.uwfox.uwc.edu/wesm/index.html

Leonardo da Vinci: Machines in Motion

posted by: Pam Seidl

Pam Seidl
Director of Marketing & Community Relations
Fox Cities Convention & Visitors Bureau

Leonardo da Vinci: Machines in Motion is currently on exhibit at The History Museum at the Castle… and it is spectacular. On display are 40 operational, actual-size working machine replicas of da Vinci’s amazing machines, all built by modern day scientists and artisans according to da Vinci’s famous codices. The exhibit includes a revolving crane, a full-size armored tank large enough for several visitors to explore from the inside, a working robot, and four flying machines.

My favorite was the tank. It looks like a giant hut and needs six people to fully operate it, but the fact that da Vinci had the vision to design it four decades before we began using this type of machinery is amazing. 

The exhibit is very kid-friendly… you can operate almost every piece … and truly illustrates the genius of da Vinci.   And you thought he just did that little painting at the Sistine Chapel!

The History Museum at the Castle

If you are looking for a fun and educational activity for both kids and adults, stop in at the History Museum At the Castle. The museum is located on the east edge of downtown Appleton across the street from Lawrence University.

My family spent an afternoon at the museum last week and there really is something for everyone. My brother, an engineer, didn’t want to leave the Tools of Change exhibit until he figured out how all of those old tools and machines worked. And my wife and four-month old daughter got a kick out of watching my niece and seven-year old nephew perform all of Houdini’s stunts in the AKA Houdini exhibit.

The History Museum’s new exhibit “Progressive Appleton: Through the Lens of W.D. Schlafer” opens today.  Here’s a link to more about that exhibit: http://www.myhistorymuseum.org/progressiveappleton.html.

I highly recommend a visit to the History Museum At the Castle if you are looking for something to do while in Appleton. For information, go to: www.myhistorymuseum.org.