Last week I took you to Kewaunee with a detour to Green Bay for a Packers preseason game. This week we’ll visit Alaska, Brussels, Poland and Denmark, all small towns in northeast Wisconsin, plus a couple of other locations all within easy driving distance of Kewaunee. I find place names fascinating because it challenges me to discover why the early residents chose the names they did. Sometimes it’s a very simple, obvious explanation while at other times it produces some head scratching and a wonder “why?” Either way, it’s always interesting.
Take Alaska, Wisconsin for instance located about half way between Kewaunee and Algoma. According to Wikipedia, Alaska and the establishment of it’s post office was named the same year (1867) the United States acquired the Alaska Territory from Russia. Makes sense, I guess! Today Alaska, Wisconsin is an unincorporated community with a bar and a very nice public golf course as determined by our 2-3 minute drive around the community. It lies between West Alaska Lake and East Alaska Lake, both popular fishing destinations. That’s it folks, now you know!
This was our second visit to Brussels, Wisconsin, our first was in October 2017 when we were campground hosts at Potawatomi State Park in Door County. Here’s a link to that post. We returned to Brussels, located in southern Door County, to attend Sunday church services that were held in the Brussels City Park. Sounded like fun, besides that they were serving food after the service!
Brussels was the largest Belgian-American settlement in the US. The many of the descendants of those early settlers still live in the Brussels community. I’d never heard of a “kermis” before seeing the advertisement for the one being held in Brussels. Kermis is derived from the 16th century Dutch words for church (kerk) and mis (mass) and defined to be an outdoor fair or carnival used to raise money for a charity or good cause, in this case the church in Brussels. After the service was over, the real fun began as a band began to set up, the kids headed for the bouncy house, and many of the adults headed for the drink table for coffee, soft drinks or beer. The featured beer, Stella Artois, is brewed in Belgium so I’m thinking when in Brussels, drink the local brew! Besides that it’s 5 o’clock somewhere!
The featured food at the Kermis was booyah that was also advertised in our next featured town, Denmark. Booyah is a thick stew that is said to have originated in Belgium and the name derived from the French word for bouillon, it was easier for the peasants to pronounce and spell! From all descriptions, booyah is a process that often takes a couple of days to accomplish if one it is true to the recipe and heritage. And it’s usually made in very large quantities, like in 50 gallon kettles! First, the broth is made from meat bones, usually chicken, pork or beef or all three at once. In my very limited experience with booyah, I’ve only had it with chicken. Then vegetables such as carrots, peas, onions, celery, potatoes and seasonings are added to the broth and meats to create a very tasty and filling dish.
Denmark, Wisconsin is located just across the Kewaunee County line in the Brown County township of New Denmark. Settlement of the area began in the late 1840’s by immigrants from Denmark and was said to be one of the most important sites of Danish immigration to the US. The village of Denmark was incorporated in 1915 and today boasts a population of nearly 2300 residents. It’s home to a number of locally owned retail businesses that serve the large agricultural community in the area. Due to it’s proximity to the greater Green Bay area (18 miles), lots of folks make the drive there for jobs. Denmark High School is home to the aptly named Vikings! It is a very pleasant town in Wisconsin to visit.
Poland, Wisconsin is also in Brown County about half way between Green Bay and Kewaunee on State Highway 29. It’s not much more than a wide spot in the road but does boast a convenience store that sells fuel and the local Polish Legion club that appears to still be active. From what I could gather, Poland was once the UFO capitol of Wisconsin with a local fellow building a 42 foot UFO Landing Port. The guy stated that he always believed in extraterrestrials and decided to give them a place to land so they could take him first. Local authorities weren’t too happy with this tower and wanted him to move it to another location but he resisted. Lot’s of people including members of his own family called him crazy but hey everyone needs a hobby! We didn’t see the landing port on our visit, maybe the authorities prevailed or maybe he got tired of waiting for the UFO’s to arrive!
We revisited a couple of communities that I’ve written about before, one of those being Sturgeon Bay. On this visit, not much was new except we did notice that the 1901 elevator that I wrote about last year was moved back across the Sturgeon Bay Ship Canal to its original home on the west side. It’s a fascinating saga, just google Sturgeon Bay elevator and you can follow the story from the beginning to the present status. Here’s a photo of where it sits today.
We also revisited the beautiful lakeside village of Algoma in northern Kewaunee County. Our mission was to check out the von Stiehl Winery where we tasted the many wines they make and make a purchase for guests we were having in a few weeks. Well, my traveling partner and I tasted enough wines to make us a wee bit tipsy so after purchasing a case (yes a case!) we had to walk around town to work off the buzz. Fortunately, it was a beautiful day so the walk was very pleasant.
Our last stop on our walk was at the Robert Ray Gallery close to the Algoma water front and the Pierhead Light. This new art and antique gallery has an excellent variety of paintings, sculptures, and photography as well as antique home furnishings. We had a very nice chat with the proprietor about art, photography and Madison area artists. Check this place out if you are in the Algoma area, click here to learn more. By this time, we were more clear headed from our wine tasting experience and we made our way back to the campground.
Well, that concludes our trip to Alaska, Brussels, Denmark, Poland and points beyond. Next week stay tuned for a Friendship Force extravaganza.
Until then, happy travels!