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!

Jack E. Richeson & Co, Inc.

By: Kelly Ann Hekler, Convention Sales Manager

Calling all artists!  Jack E. Richeson & Co., Inc. is truly a hidden gem in the Fox Cities! They offer a wonderful art studio, gallery and school.  They also offer classes of all levels, even to people like me who can’t even draw a stick figure!  There is truly so much to see in the 25,000 square foot gallery!

The gallery is divided into thirds.  In one third, the Richeson family displays their collection with over 200 paintings on display year round.  I personally do not have a huge understanding of art, however; I was really able to appreciate the talent displayed.  Another third is reserved for well-known contemporary painters.  The final third is for new and unknown painters.  This section features artists from all over the country and even some locals!  It was great to see the undiscovered talent and what they can create.  It was especially interesting to see some of the local artists’ work and the local areas that were featured in their paintings.  Some of the paintings are for sale and would be a great showpiece in any home.

In the middle of the gallery, a classroom is set up for local painters to come in and paint, chat and talk about their work.  They have local teachers and also, once a month, a national known painter teaches special workshops.  If you are new to painting and don’t yet have supplies, there are some supplies available for use.

The Jack E. Richeson & Co, Inc. even makes their own painting supplies like canvas, paints, palettes, brushes and easels.  They sell to a lot of different stores across the country but they do have a store in the warehouse where local artists can buy direct from the manufacturer.  There is also space for meetings and business receptions, what a fun place to host a meeting!

I would encourage all to visit Jack E. Richeson & Co., Inc. They are located on Marcella Street, not too far from the Hilton Garden Inn in Appleton, in a business and industrial park.  For more information and directions, check out their website or their Facebook page. Maybe you will become inspired and one day people will be looking at your work displayed in their gallery!

Insider Scoop: How to Win Tickets to “Billy Elliot the Musical”

This month, you can Watch & Win tickets to Billy Elliot the Musical at the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center in downtown Appleton. Head to the the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center on Facebook and keep an eye out for contest videos. Look for the Watch & Win keyword, and enter for a chance to win!.

One lucky winner will receive four tickets to Billy Elliot the Musical at the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center on Tuesday, June 19 at 7:30 p.m.

Billy Elliot the Musical is a joyous celebration of one young boy’s journey to make his dreams come true based on the smash-hit independent film of the same name with music by the legendary Elton John. Set in a small town, the story follows Billy as he stumbles out of the boxing ring and into a ballet class, discovering a surprising passion that inspired his family and his whole community. On Broadway, the show won ten 2009 Tony® Awards including Best Musical and won praise from fans and critics alike, including Ben Brantley of The New York Times who called Billy Elliot, “the most inspiring show I’ve seen in years.”

Sangria’s

I met several pals at Sangria’s Mexican Grill on Monday and to my surprise the place was absolutely hoppin.’  I was surprised to learn that it’d about 20 minutes before we got a table, but it was well worth the wait.  I can’t say enough about the nice experience we had.  The food was outstanding, portions generous and prices reasonable.  Our waiters were fun, charming and attentive despite a few minor language challenges.

The minute we were seated we given a seriously huge bowl of chips and smaller bowls of bean dip and salsa.  The chips were fresh, crisp and salty, and positively addictive.  In fact, they were some of the best tortilla chips I’ve ever had.  The five of us ate nearly the whole bowl and a few more from a second bowl too.

The menu had a wide selection of choices, several of which I was unfamiliar with.  I chose something that turned out to be kind of a shredded chicken enchilada as my entrée, and my waiter helped me select two side dishes from a list of “accessories.”  I chose, believe it or not, Mexican style mashed potatoes and Tequila veggies.  The portion was large and very reasonably priced at less than $10.  Everyone in my group raved about the food, had plenty to eat and took home a to-go box as well.

Sangria’s is located at 215 S. Memorial Drive in downtown Appleton.  If they have a website, I couldn’t find it, but you can call them for information at 920-955-3755.

Million Dollar Night on the Town

My husband and I just saw “Million Dollar Quartet” at the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center.  It was a terrific show, in fact far better than I anticipated.  But then, I’ve never been disappointed in a visit to the Fox Cities PAC.  The theater is beautiful, the volunteers who assist you are professional and welcoming, and the performances are absolutely top notch.

Here are a few of my recommendations for making any show at the PAC into a special occasion:

  • Stop for a glass of wine at Flanagan’s Wine Review before the show.  It’s just a block away and you’ll find the wine selection to be excellent.
  • Make dinner reservations at Apollon, which is about 3 blocks away.  I recommend that you order the Saganaki, a flaming cheese, as your hors d’oeuvre and be ready to yell “Opa!” 
  • If you prefer a more casual dinner before the show, I like Senor Tequila’s for a tasty Mexican meal and a Margarita. 
  • After the show you can drop in at Deja Vu for a fancy martini.  Take it from me – they’re potent, so don’t have two unless you’ve got a hotel reservation nearby.

Mr. G’s

Eighteen separate cities, towns and villages make up the Fox Cities and it can be extremely difficult to tell whether you’re in Neenah or Menasha, Kimberly or Buchanan.  So I can’t actually tell you whether my pals and I were in Appleton or Grand Chute the other night when we had dinner at Mr. G’s & Co. on Northland Avenue.  I can say with great certainty, however, that the food and service were great.

Mr. G’s looks like a typical sports bar, but it has a large and varied menu.  Every in my group opted for burgers and sandwiches, but we could have chosen steaks, ribs, wraps or pasta.  The reasonable prices got rave reviews and so did the burgers, particularly the one with the crispy fried onions on it.  Our waiter enthusiastically recommended the potato skins instead of fries and he was absolutely right.  Thick and crisp, with a crust of parmesan cheese on them and a side of sour cream, the skins were a hit all around.

Our waiter was funny and attentive, without being a pain in the neck, and it was one of those occasions that I was happy to give a generous tip!

You can learn more about Mr. G’s at www.mrgsbarandgrill.com.

Mary’s Place Chicken Chili

The Fox Cities area is well known for its restaurants.  We’ve got many of the national chains and dozens of great locally owned restaurants, including plenty with an ethnic flavor.  But sometimes all you want is a family restaurant, and when that happens I head to Mary’s Place in Appleton. 

Last Tuesday was one of those times.  I worked late and needed a quick supper before my 7 PM meeting.  I’ve written before about their yummy chicken dumpling soup, which is what I had in mind when I arrived, but chicken chili was the evening special so I chose that.  For less than $6 I got a generous portion of delicious white chicken chili with crispy tortilla triangles and my choice of side dishes.  I wholeheartedly recommend it! 

There are two Mary’s Place Restaurants, one on N. Richmond Street and another one on S. Oneida Street.

Great Gift Idea from the Fox Cities PAC

Whether your loved one is a fan of musicals or dramas, comedy, dance or the Fox Valley Symphony, a Fox Cities PAC gift certificate will provide a a lasting memory and an inspiration in the new year. Plus, a gift certificate allows your giftee to pick the show that’s just right for their tastes and their schedule.

Order online by December 16, and you’ll get a present too – a free iTunes Broadway show tune sampler!

Order your Fox Cities P.A.C. gift certificate by 4:00 p.m. on December 16 to ensure your loved one receives their Fox Cities P.A.C. gift certificate by Christmas Day.  www.foxcitiespac.com.