Thanks for the kind feedback on last weeks post about my musings driving down a two lane highway. It was fun to write and share with you all.
This week, I’m taking you back to Madison’s iconic street, the street that connects the Wisconsin State Capital and the flagship University of Wisconsin-Madison, State Street. I’ve written about and shared photos of State Street in the past but thought it was time to take a second look. While it’s a busy place all year, it becomes even busier in the summer when a number of outdoor events are held on or near the State Street area. A fair number of tourists visit the city to take in the world famous Farmers Market, the Union Terrace, and other places of interest. In addition, thousands of prospective students make visits to the UW and incoming freshman arrive for their orientation and registration for the fall semester.
State Street is a six block long limited access roadway with wide pedestrian walkways. It’s home to many eating establishments, taverns, lots of locally owned boutique shops, a few national chain stores, art galleries, music venues a concert hall, and even a park. It is also home to lots of students, young working professionals, retired folks, state government workers, and enough homeless people to generate concern by citizens and government officials to develop programs to help them off the streets.
During the summer, hardly a week goes by that we don’t get down to the State Street area to the Farmers Market, the Terrace, or other events. In this post I’m featuring a couple of State Street events, one recurring and one new one. First the recurring event, Maxwell Street Days. This three day mid summer event has been held for over 40 years running. Now to be clear, I’m not aware of a Maxwell Street in Madison. This event is based on one of the same name that originated in downtown Chicago on Maxwell Street in 1912 until 1994 when was moved to accommodate the expansion of the University of Illinois at Chicago. The Chicago Maxwell Street Market was known for it’s diversity in vendors as well as the musicians busking on the street. It is said to be where the “Chicago style” blues was created. Kind of a nice note in history to emulate.
Madison’s Maxwell Street Days feature sidewalk sales by businesses and vendors of clothing, jewelry, art work, home decor, kitchen gadgets, sporting goods, books plus many food vendors. It’s a great place to stock up on inexpensive t-shirts, bargain gaudy Hawaiian shirts, last season’s winter coats and socks (do they ever go out of style!), one of a kind dish towels, or movies on DVDs.
One of my favorite stops during Maxwell Street Days is the Scared Feather, the local merchant of all things head gear. I’m always on the look out for a new hat to wear to JazzFest in New Orleans. They sell hats of all types shapes, sizes, and colors. If you can’t find it there, well, you can’t find it there!
Maxwell Street Days usually happens the third weekend in July so mark your calendars for next year!
The new event that was initiated this year is Madison Night Market. As the sign below indicates, it’s an evening open air market with vendors selling an eclectic mix of items, music in Lisa Link Peace Park, lots of food vendors and of course the inevitable beer garden. The night I attended it was very crowded so it’s likely that this will become another Madison tradition. Here are a few photos from this event.
Some of the music was provided by musicians busking for dollars. This young woman played the guitar and added percussion with the heels of her feet. Must really have to be coordinated!
The next two photos show folks play what I think is called a steel pan drum. Regardless, it has a nice, mellow sound, at least when they play it. It would sound like a cast iron frying pan if I played it!
This patriotic person appeared to be hitting on the young girls. Not sure they took him up on his offers of friendship!
I had to include a photo of this vendor, it’s oh so Madison!
Outside one of the shops along State Street was a display of hula hoops, a little strange I thought but what the heck, to each their own. Later when I walked by I noticed this couple making a brave attempt to give the hoops a try with little regard to what anyone thought of their expertise or lack thereof.
This is one way to drink while pedaling up and down State Street!
And a few scenes from up and down State Street.
And a visit to State Street wouldn’t be complete without at least a glimpse of the Wisconsin State Capitol.
No visit to Madison is complete without at least one stop to see and explore the State Street area. It’s unique, quirky, and fun. If you get to town, let me know and I’ll give you a guided tour.
Hope you enjoyed your brief visit to Madison’s State Street.
Until next week,