Cupcakes, and Cookies, and Cakes..Oh My!

The Cake Guru-Sign

Written By: Jeni Strom, Group Visitor Services Coordinator

I recently had the opportunity to attend a VIP Pre-Grand Opening event at Tamara’s The Cake Guru’s new location located at 1859 Casaloma Dr in Appleton. She already has an established location in Oshkosh and as of today, Friday, February 27, their new Appleton location is officially open for business. I thought having this pre-grand opening was such a fun idea and a great way to reach out to other local businesses and give them a chance to experience what you have to offer. It wasn’t a large event but it did give myself and other attendees to taste her wonderful cupcakes, ask questions, and find out everything they will have to offer.

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The cupcakes were delicious! She offered up a small variety for us to try, the strawberry champagne cupcakes were amazing and the red velvet were sinfully good, really they were all delicious, and offer so many more flavors to choose from! This location is small but quaint and comfortable, and the decor follows her pink and green logo colors. The bakery will have a small seating area with coffee and drink options available so you can sit and enjoy your treats there if you choose. They will have a selection of cupcakes and treats in house everyday, and pre-ordering is available for weddings and events with a wide variety of custom options to choose from! I got to meet Tamara, the owner, who was very welcoming, and the manager and staff were very friendly and knowledgeable of the product. The prices are very reasonable too!

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2015 Destination Guide..The One Publication You’ll Need for Fox Cities Info!

Written By: Mary Rhode, Marketing and Communications Manager 2015GuideCover (1)

Beyond the colorful exterior, lies an abundance of information for a first-time visitor or the long-time local. I wanted to make sure to highlight some of the new sections, let you know where you can pick one up for yourself and of course share my favorite article in our guide this year. One new addition to our guide is the ABOUT page. Located in the front of the guide on page 2, this page lets you know which cities make up the Fox Cities as well as give you a few of the facts and figures about our area. Another new addition is the shopping series article; this three-part series highlights the many great options for shopping in the Fox Cities. The first part in the series focuses on Fox River Mall, with the other two parts focused on Downtown Appleton and Downtown Neenah, and will appear in the 2016 and 2017 guides respectively. Another new addition is the consignment and resale store listing. This special listing in the SHOP section of our guide was a request from visitors and locals alike. Lastly, our 2015 guide has a new and improved Visitor Services section. This section has new content headers including; kayak rental, boat rentals, sledding hills, outdoor/public pools and cross country ski trails. It seemed only logical to put this information in our guide to make it available for all visitors to discover. The Destination Guide is a labor of love for me to work on every year. When it comes to writing the articles for it, I love the challenge of coming up with interesting content for our visitors and locals alike to read. If I had to pick a favorite in the 2015 guide, it would be the ‘My Fox Cities’ article. This year’s guide highlights Cory Chisel and his journey from Appleton to Nashville and back to Appleton to create Mile of Music. This Q&A article was fun to do and as you read it, you can truly feel the passion Cory has not only for the festival but for his hometown of Appleton. A close second place for my favorite article would have to be the Local Brewers article. Although this article appeared in our 2014 Destination Guide, the 2015 article has the addition of Appleton Beer Factory. With it opening late in 2013, I was unable to include it before the final proof of the 2014 guide. I am thrilled to have them included in the 2015 article and I hope you find that article informative! The Fox Cities Destination Guide is available at a number of locations throughout our 20 communities. We have 15 Visitor Information Kiosks located at various attractions. The guide is also available at area hotels, Chambers of Commerce and the airport. Live outside of the area? Not a problem, as you can request one to be mailed to you by following this link: http://www.foxcities.org/explore/visitor_guide. You can also view a digital version of the guide through our website by following this link: http://www.foxcities.org/explore/d_visitor_guide

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 week.photo 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 http://www.apl.org/, and for more information and events going on at The Fire visit http://thefireartstudio.com/. A fun indoor activity and great for all ages!!

Hidden Holiday Gems

Pam Seidl, Executive Director

Tis the holiday shopping season and the Fox Cities have something for everyone with a shopping list.  Fox River Mall is the obvious choice to start your shopping and our local downtowns, especially Appleton and Neenah, have many locally-owned shops with great gift options.  So enough of the marketing message … let’s talk about a few places that only the locals know about.

The Garden in Neenah is a store focused on growing with healthy soil.  Their wheelhouse is summer produce grown on-site or nearby as well as products to help home gardeners grow organically, but they are open year-round and have a great selection of wreaths, sprays and Christmas trees. Inside the shop you will find a large selection of Himalayan pink salt – everything from lamps and shot glasses to large slabs for cooking, candles with essential oils and some lovely holiday décor.  (The Garden, 833 E. Cecil St., Neenah).

The Wreath Factory and Wild Apple Studio are two gems in downtown Menasha.  The Wreath Factory specializes in home décor and has one of the most extensive displays of Christmas trees and festive holiday  ideas for your home.  Those with a crafty bent can purchase greens for creating their own seasonal decorations.

Wild Apple Studio is owned by local glass artist Mary Weidert.  She showcases her own works plus those of other local artisans.  I appreciate the variety of items and prices in this shop.  A great place to find gifts for teachers, babysitters and the like.

While we are on the locally-owned and sourced subject, I’ve tried a few new restaurants all focusing on locally sourced ingredients.  In close proximity to Fox River Mall are SAP and Gather Americana. SAP features breakfast all day and an amazing bakery.  Expect a wait almost anytime and especially during the breakfast, lunch or dinner hour. Gather Americana is just south of the mall, and may afford a bit of a respite from the mall holiday shopping crowds.  Great beer and wine list and lots of small plates to share.

Also on the must-visit list is Rye located in the CopperLeaf hotel in downtown Appleton. Nice variety of takes on comfort food and something to please everyone. Try the crab croquettes!

A little more off the beaten path is The Source Public House. A family friendly restaurant serving lunch and dinner with brunch on Sundays with a casual atmosphere.  The focus is on clean, fresh, natural and sustainable.  Try the Wisconsin platter of cheese, jerky and honey or the Andouille Mac & Cheese.

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!