Door County Potpourri – Part 2

Hi everyone,

Welcome to my last of six posts of our July 2022 adventures in Door County. In case you missed any of the previous articles, click here, here, herehere, and here.

This week, I bring you a glimpse into a few our fun in Door County Wisconsin.

Sturgeon Bay

Sturgeon Bay is the county seat of Door County and its largest city with a population just under 10,000 people. During our stay in Door County, we found ourselves in Sturgeon Bay on several occasions. Sometimes it was for groceries, they have a well-stocked Pick’n Save and at other times it was for the Saturday morning farmers market. Once I made the twenty-five minute drive to get my eyeglasses repaired.

The farmers market not only included the usual locally grown produce and flowers but also a variety of gifts, arts, t-shirts, and booksellers. This market has grown over the years from the parking lot just of the main street, to now filling a couple blocks of 3rd Avenue. 

This purveyor of grilled meats always had a line waiting for a brat, hot dog, or burger. The smell wafted over the entire block. It was hard to resist.

Towards the end of the month, Sturgeon Bay merchants held their annual sidewalk sale on 3rd Avenue. There was a large crowd on hand to look for deals and enjoy the beautiful day. I checked out the kitchen store and the bookseller. At one booth, I met book author Tom Davis. After a nice chat, I purchased two of his recent novels. My biggest purchase of the day and always happy to support local artisans. Can’t have too many books!

The fried cheese curds were popular with the shoppers. There was always a line waiting for their chance to buy this unique to Wisconsin product.

A visit to Sturgeon Bay wouldn’t be complete without a glance at the Ship Canal (connects Lake Michigan to the Bay of Green Bay) and the historic Michigan Street Bridge. The city recently opened a waterfront walkway that gives visitors and locals a great view of the canal, bridge, and the tower at the Door County Maritime Museum.

It’s always a delight to visit Sturgeon Bay, a very fine city.

Sturgeon Bay Lighthouses

Another reason to visit Sturgeon Bay and Door County are the eleven lighthouses. The red Sturgeon Bay North Pierhead located on the Lake Michigan side of the peninsula is a favorite of mine. I’ve stopped by this light on several occasions at different times of the day. The best times are at sunrise or in the winter. But then again, anytime is a good time to walk the pier out to see the light up close. During our July stay, we stopped by in mid-morning on a sunny day with pleasant temperatures.

There is another lighthouse nearby on the Coast Guard station. The Canal Lighthouse was built in 1899. Both lights are still in use to guide ships through the Ship Canal.

As we walked along the pier, we noticed piles of dead dried up tiny fish that washed up in the waves. We also saw similar piles on some of the beaches we visited. We later learned, these dead fish are an invasive species that can’t survive the cold lake temperatures. They hatch, live a short while then succumb in the cold water. I guess it’s natures way of keeping things in balance.

Tractor Show – Ellison Bay

Each year the Liberty Grove Historical Society puts on the Antique Tractor and Arts Festival on their grounds near Ellison Bay. The field was filled with rows of old tractors, some common, many unique. There were pony rides for the kids, food and drink vendors, and live music by Jerry Voelker and the Jolly Gents. This group has been together for over fifty years and have played all over the world. We could hear the sounds of waltzes and polkas as we looked over the tractors.

My favorite tractor was the 1953 Ford Golden Jubilee. I had a nice chat with young Tyler Appel who told me they still use this tractor during haying season. This is a very sought after collectors item. My Traveling Partner’s father was always on the look out for a Jubilee after he restored a 1952 Ford 8N.

Of interest to spectators was this vintage cherry harvester. The contraption wraps around the cherry tree, then mechanical shakes the tree. The cherries fall onto the canvas and are carried by a conveyor belt into a collecting bin. Modern harvesters are actually two machines. One does the shaking, the other collects the cherries. It’s pretty slick. They can  harvest between 60-100 trees per hour! Learn more here.

This exhibitor of small engines was working to fine tune his “hit and miss” engine. He didn’t say much except “yup” and “nope” when I asked a couple of questions.

Door County Candle Company

I’ve written about the Door County Candle Company this past spring. This is the small locally owned business that has sold over 60,000 blue and yellow candles to support Ukrainians during this challenging time. Since the business employs a small staff, the owner, Christiania, put out a call for volunteer to help process and mail out the thousands of candles ordered on line. During our stay in July, Door County Candle put out an urgent call for volunteers to devote a half day helping in the shop. My Traveling Partner, The Eldest, and I readily volunteered to help. We arrived at the store at 9 AM and were met by Christiania and one of the store employees. They gave us a brief orientation and put us to work.

One of the jobs was to use cotton balls dipped in rubbing alcohol to remove any wax residue from the exterior of the glass container.

The Eldest helped a regular volunteer attach mailing labels to packaged candles. The orders were placed on March 22, that’s how far behind they were in fulfilling orders. They worked quickly until the Fedex truck arrived just before noon.

The Eldest then moved to run the labeling machine. 

The photo below shows the professional candle maker at work. First, he pours the yellow liquid wax, then the next day pours the blue wax.

These candles are ready for processing. After helping my Traveling Partner clean the jars, I was moved over to remove the “hats” that hold the wick and trim the wicks with a nippers. 

I took this photo at the end of our three-hour-forty-five-minute shift when another crew of volunteers arrived. The workspace at the Candle Company is cramped. An addition is in the works. Despite all that 500-700 candles go out the door every day.

We took one of group of visitors to the Door County Candle Company. They have a designated number of Ukrainian candles for sale at the store each day. Most days they run out.

While we were in Door County, the Candle Company owner announced that they have contributed $700,000 of the profits from the Ukrainian candles to the charity Razom for Ukraine. Her goals is $1 Million, help her meet that goal by buying a candle or two.

Two Nights at the Theater

During our stay in Door County, we took in two indoor performances. Both required masks to be worn due to the prevalence of Covid.

The Northern Sky Theater’s production of Dad’s Season Tickets was fun and entertaining. The storyline of this musical comedy revolved around Frank and his three daughters. The question is: Who will inherit his treasured Green Bay Packers season tickets? The feuding sisters try every trick in the book to woo Dad into giving them the tickets. At the end, family wins over football. A very fun evening!

The last night of our stay, we took in the Garrison Keillor Show at the Door County Auditorium in Fish Creek. Garrison is 80 years old and still sharing the news from Lake Wobegon. My favorite part is the intermission, when Garrison grabs a mike and leads the audience in song. For nearly half an hour, we sang gospel, patriotic, and show tunes. A memorable evening.

The Hardy Gallery

I’ve written few times about The Hardy Gallery located on the historic Anderson Dock in the village of Ephraim. The gallery features art from local artists. The building is unique with the lapboards containing messages and names. The docent told us that sailors and their families would leave messages on the building as a way of communicating. Hence, the modern day adaptation.

We were told to stop at the local Ace Hardware store for paint and brushes. Some folks use Sharpies but those quickly wash off and the ink washes into the water. The Eldest and The Son-in-Law celebrated their 13th Wedding Anniversary in July so they added their message to one of the walls. 

Then My Traveling Partner added our 50th Anniversary announcement to the wall. A fitting end to a memorable month in Door County.

This concludes this series of posts from Door County. I hope you enjoyed the photos and narrative. For me this is a reminisce of a great time spent with family and friends. Especially with my Traveling Partner of 50 years!

Until next week, happy travels!

Tom

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