State Robotics Competition at Xavier High School

Written by: Adam Schanke, Sports Marketing Manager

On Saturday, February 21st, 52 of the best VEX Robotics teams from Wisconsin and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula will compete in the Wisconsin VEX High School State Championship at Xavier High School in hopes of advancing to the VEX Robotics World Championship in Louisville, Kentucky.

VEX Robotics is the world’s largest robotics competition for middle school and high school students, with more than 10,000 teams from 32 countries competing in over 750 tournaments annually.


Students build and program robots from scratch, using components from the VEX Robotics Design System. Each year students compete in a new game or challenge.

This year’s game is called Skyrise. The basic concept of Skyrise is for teams of two robots to put as many hollow VexSkyriseField (1)cubes on posts as possible in the time allowed. A match starts with a 15 second period where the robot acts autonomously using sensors and pre-programmed commands. Points from this period are scored, and then a 1 minute 45 second period begins in which students control the robots with remote controllers. For an example of a match, watch this video.

Fox Cities high schools competing in the state championship include Fox Valley Lutheran, Menasha, Neenah, St. Mary Central, and Xavier. These schools had to qualify at one of 8 local level tournaments throughout the state to advance to the state championship.

The competition will take place between 9:00am and 5:00pm in Xavier High School’s Torchy Clark Gym. For details, visit the Wisconsin VEX High School State Championship event page.

Great Live Sporting Events right here in the Fox Cities!

Written By: Matt Ten Haken, Director of Sports Marketing

Too often, we as sports fans become enamored with the pageantry of televised professional sports and forget about the exciting live sporting events happening right in our own backyard. The Fox Cities has plenty of options to fulfill your sports fix. Here are some options for you to consider over the next few weeks.

Fox Cities Ice Dogs: If you haven’t seen a hockey game in-person, you need to get out to one this season! Through the end of March, you can catch the Ice Dogs at Appleton Family Ice Center. They compete in the Great Lakes Hockey League and games are always a blast!

Lawrence University Athletics: The Vikings sponsor 22 different varsity sports. Besides the traditional winter sports like basketball and hockey, do you know they have a competitive fencing team? How cool is that! Home basketball games are on campus throughout the week and home hockey games are played at Appleton Family Ice Center. The historically cool architecture found throughout campus extends to awesome sporting venues like Alexander Gymnasium.

UW-Fox Valley Athletics: The Cyclones are quickly becoming a powerhouse in Wisconsin Junior College athletics.  They have won multiple conference championships in basketball over the last few years. Many local high school stars have taken their game to the next level at UW-Fox Valley. They have home games on the Menasha campus through the end of February.

High School Athletics: 13 High Schools are located within our definition of the Fox Cities. Is there anything better than the smell of freshly popped popcorn, the pep band blaring fight songs, and a packed gymnasium? The Fox Cities consistently boasts state champion teams, record breaking individuals, and athletes who are garnering college scholarships. The regular season is winding down as we approach the madness of March. Don’t miss your chance to experience the excitement. Maybe you can see that next professional athlete before they get on your TV! You can also visit for more information about our local High School Athletics.

Celebrate Valentine’s Day in the Fox Cities!

Valentines-Day-HeaderWritten By: Amy Karas, Convention Sales and Marketing Manager
Looking for a way to celebrate your Valentine’s Day? The Fox Cities has you covered. Whether you’re looking to celebrate a romantic night as a couple or a fun night with friends or family, there’s something for everyone!

Romance Get romantic this Valentine’s Day with a Sleigh Ride at Bubolz Nature Preserve on Saturday, February 14, 2015. Also enjoy hors d’oeuvres from The Marq by Festival, wine sampling from Kerrigan Brothers Winery, and beer from Stone Cellar Brewpub. Register now by calling (920) 731-6041. Available sleigh ride times are 5:30, 6, 6:30 and 7pm.

Family Fun The United Way Fox Cities Emerging Leaders is holding their annual Valentine’s Family Festival from 10am – Noon on Saturday, February 7, 2015, at Maplewood Middle School. This event is free to the community and provides safe, fun activities for children ages 12 & under with their families. Enjoy cookie decorating, carnival games, arts & crafts, a photo booth, live DJ and giveaways. Children must be accompanied by an adult.

Dinner and Dancing The Fox Cities Performing Art Center’s Kimberly-Clark Theater presents Northeast Wisconsin’s Got Talent at 7:30pm on Saturday, February 14, 2015. Enjoy an elegant evening of cocktails, hors d’ oeuvres, auctions and performances. A portion of the proceeds will benefit newVoices – Northeast Wisconsin’s Vocal Artists. Call (920) 832-9700 to book your tickets. The Milwaukee-based Doo-Wop Daddies will be performing on Friday, February 13, 2015, in the Marquette Ballroom at the Best Western Premier Bridgewood Resort Hotel & Conference Center in Neenah. Dinner starts at 6:30pm with dancing at 8:30pm. Come for the show, dinner or make a night of it with a Guestroom Special. Call (920) 720-8000 for details and reservations.

Dinner at the Ballpark on Friday, February 13 or Saturday, February 14. enjoy an evening the club level at Neuroscience Group Field at Fox Cities Stadium. All couples will receive a four course meal, bottle of champagne, a long-stemmed rose, picture and ticket voucher for any Timber Rattlers game during the upcoming season. Sit in the main banquet facility or upgrade to a private suite for an additional fee. The club level bar is open at 5pm and dinner will be served at 6:30pm. Tickets can be purchased at the box office or by calling (920) 733-4152.

Valentine’s Day For All Lovers Event at the Melting Pot in Appleton. Choose from the Sweetheart or Forever Five course meal packages February 9 – 15, 2015. Call (920) 739-3533 for reservations.

Valentine’s Day at Flanagan’s Wine Review in downtown Appleton. Each course includes a different wine pairing. Choose from 5 and 8pm seating. Call (920) 749-9463 for reservations. No matter which activity you choose to do, get out and make it a sweet night to remember!

Need a place to stay? The Copperleaf Boutique Hotel & Spa is offering a Valentines Package including a one night stay in a whirlpool fireplace suite, a long stem rose, champagne and chocolate-covered strawberries, all for just $222.99. Price excludes tax. Call 920-749-0303 for more details!

Eagle Sightings at 1000 Islands Environmental Center!

Written By: Kim Tisler, Director of Operations

While it may be tempting to burrow in when our days are short, and where it’s warm when our temperatures hover around zero, a trip to 1000 Islands Environmental Center will cure even the worst of your winter blues, and have you feeling renewed and invigorated.  Seven miles of trails along the Fox River invite visitors to experience hiking, snowshoeing, birding and special to this time of year, eagle sightings. During 1000 Island’s Annual Eagle Days 1000IslandsAdrianCelebration, there were free activities including;  hands-on eagle activities, an account of the return of bald eagles to the Fox Valley, informational sessions, and trips out to the river to experience eagle sightings.  For those that missed the event this year, held on Jan. 17, head out to 1000 Islands in the next few weeks, and take your own hike down the trail.  You’re sure to see eagles in great abundance.  Bring your camera and a good lens!  (Sunrise and sunset are the best times for potential sightings)  Winter is a wonderful time to experience some of nature’s greatest wonders, but you can enjoy all there is to offer throughout the year. Visit 1000 Islands Environmental Center website for more info and to see events they have going on throughout the year. 1000IslandsLookout1000IslandsTrail

New Years Eve in the Fox Cities

Written By: Jeni Strom, Group Visitor Services Coordinator

Looking for a way to celebrate your New Year Eve? Here’s a list of a few places around the Fox Cities that can help you ring in the New Year!

  • Noodles Around The World – 12-5pm at the Building for Kids Appleton. A family friendly event! For details and contact information click here.
  • Noon Years Eve! – Funset Boulevard is hosting this fun event. starting at 10am with all-day specials. For information and details click here
  • Mile of Music new Years Encore Eve - Held at The Radisson Paper Valley. A small selection of bands return for a New Years Eve celebration. Event starts at 6pm and package options are available! Click here for more information.
  • Skyline Comedy Cafe – Comedian Graham Elwood. You can pre-order your tickets now. Visit their website for more information.
  • Badger Sports Park, New Years Eve Family Party – Enjoy laser tag, unlimited video games, mini bowling, inflatables and a balloon drop at 9:10 with great prizes. Advance tickets available by phone or at their front counter. Limited spots available. First come, first serve. Event starts at 7pm.
  • First Eve - This FREE event held in downtown Menasha will feature live TV coverage from Curtis Reed Square hosted by Tom Zalaski and Erin Davisson. A family-friendly, alcohol-free event that includes live music, street dance, lantern launch, midnight ball drop, fireworks and prizes. Warm up by the hot air balloon warming stations. Event begins at 10pm.
  • Fratellos Waterfront Restaurant  – Ring in the New Year with our four-course New Year’s Eve menu. Book a reservation between 2:30-4 p.m. and receive a $10 gift card! For details click here.
  • Gather Americana New Years Eve EventClick here for times and menu details.

Getting Creative at The Fire

Written By: Jeni Strom, Group Visitor Services Coordinator

We headed downtown Appleton last night to take part in the Teen Night; Make One, Take One event at The Fire pottery studio. The event was held in conjunction with the Appleton Public Library and free for teens 11 and up (pre-registration was required as space and materials were limited). The idea of the event was for the girls to make one glass pendant for themselves and their second pieces would be given as holiday gifts to a elderly ladies in assisted living homes.  A pretty neat idea and a great way to get them involved in the spirit of giving! The girls got to pick their glass pieces and colors they wanted to use, and draw out their designs. The final products will be finished in about a 1

While the girls had their fun, my son and I decided to do a little project of our own, and each painted our own mugs to be fired. They have lots of pre-made pottery to choose from, all you have to do is paint on your designs! They’re pottery projects range in price from as little as $5 up to around $30. They set you up and walk you through the process and then let you do your thing!

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The Fire also offers mosaics and clay projects as well! Check online for more events through the Appleton Public Library at, and for more information and events going on at The Fire visit A fun indoor activity and great for all ages!!

Head Downtown for the Holidays

Written by: Jeni Strom, Group Visitor Services Coordinator

My kids and I headed downtown Appleton on Saturday, November 25th for holiday family day. Our first stop was the Appleton Winter Farm Market at City Center Plaza, it’s definitely on a smaller scale than that of the summer farm market, but still offers a good selection of vendors and with the holiday season, they’ve added a few extra free family friendly events and activities. My kidcookies with Mrs Clauss were most excited to make a visit to Mrs. Claus and decorate cookies! This included coloring for the kids and a Christmas storybook time. We also got to see a small performance of some classic Christmas carols from the Lawrence Academy of Music Girl Choir . Be sure to check out the Appleton Winter Farm Market every Saturday at City Center, and watch for more holiday activities!


We also took some time to walk around window displaydowntown to look at some of the holiday window displays. Many of the downtown stores take extra time to come up with fun and creative ways to spruce up their displays for the holidays. So if you’re out and about downtown, be sure to stop and take a look!



We ended our day with a walk through the Festival of Trees at The Trout Museum of Art. Festival of Trees is an exhibit for local businesses and artists to create and decorate festival of trees 2themed Christmas trees or wreaths for silent auction. Bidding is open now through Dec 4, but the exhibit will be available for viewing through Dec 7. Throughout this time they will also have some special events and performances to see. You can get more information and details on their website. It’s free and open to the public, so stop in and enjoy these beautifully festival of treesdecorated pieces!wreath