For such a small city, (Madison has under 225,000 residents), I was completely overwhelmed this summer with activities, festivals, concerts and other venues that were offered on a daily basis in Madison, Wisconsin. This is by no means a complaint, yet reassures me that I have made a good decision in choosing this place.
After work, with energy still looming, I would have to decide whether I should do the laundry and household work that needed to be tended to or skip it all together for a trip to a hiking trail or a weekday farmer's market or a seat at the Union, overlooking Lake Mendota. And the list goes on. I am practically thankful that the sun is setting earlier because it is an excuse to sit on the couch and read.
I cannot even allow myself to sit on the couch when the sun is out. I have to enjoy nature. And with the infinite options around town, I have made every excuse (art show - friend wants to meet for a drink outside - dog needs to exercise on park trail - the swimming pool is open) to avoid doing anything that is taxing, like finishing my taxes, for example.
Where to start? Of all of the things you can do, I will rate my top five memories of "All things offered in Madison....."
1) The Farmer's Market
Well, it is quite obvious that I love the farmer's market. I never buy a whole lot, but I am only one person. Besides the main market which is the biggest "producer only" market in the entire country, there are smaller sized markets all week in outlying neighborhoods. For example, Central Park, aka the "Eastside Market," takes place on Tuesday afternoons. I can tell you that since I went to the Saturday market, almost every dinner has come from something purchased there.
2. Venetian Night
An inaugural event in town. After the annual "Taste of Madison," (I went. Only because it is literally my back yard. One loop around the square and it was not that impressive), the first ever boat parade on Lake Mendota. Boats were illuminated with fun lights and paraded from one end of the lake in Maple Bluff, ending by the UW Union. There were so many incredible places to take a seat and wait for this event to start. There were a number of parks along the lake. (Whoever plotted the area surrounding the lakes did a fantastic job). It was a gorgeous night and the event was a success.
3) Restaurant Week
A bi-annual occurrence. Many local restaurants participate in this. Two for $50 enables you to a three course meal. This summer, I chose Fresco, on top of the Overture Center. With a lovely view of State Street and the city, it's fun to dine on the roof. Our meals were tasty and consisted of mostly local ingredients. (Surprise!!)
4) Orton Park Festival
On the near east side of town, there are several festivals throughout the summer. Orton Park features Cycropia Aerial Dance Troupe. The festival is in a square of grass in a neighborhood that I often run through in the mornings. The Cycropia dancers are a troupe of "circque du soleil" artists, who performed by hanging on the branches of this one tree. It was very cool. A lot of the pieces involved swinging on what appeared to be large scarves and dainty swings. And I kept on thinking to myself, "I run by this tree in the mornings. I wonder if God intended for this tree to be utilized this way....?" Awesome show!
5) Marquette Waterfront Festival
Also a near east side festival, what I enjoyed about this one was the melting pot. I went there in the afternoon to hear a reggae type of band. They were very talented and as I danced up by the stage, little kids were dancing. So were old hippies who probably went to UW with my parents. And hippies younger than me. Gays. Straights. Biracial families. Old. Young. Mentally handicapped. You name it. We were all blending together, dancing to that reggae in the June summer sun. All in the name of Saturday afternoon.
I also loved Maxwell Street Days - State Street's sidewalk sale, Jazz off the square, Concerts on the Square, the Art Fair on the Square, and many many more.... There is just so much.
What I have learned this summer in Madison is that I would never take a vacation from it. I would miss way too much.