Friday, June 5, 2009

The Original Cheeseheads

Cheesehead: A somewhat unflattering but self-described term for an ardent Packer fan. The term is also used by snooty Minnesotans following behind a slow moving car with Wisconsin license plates. During the football season you can see Green Bay fans with foam fake cheese wedges on their heads at NFL games. They invade us once a year to play the Vikings. There is a good natured rivalry between the two neighboring states.

I returned late last night from a quick road trip to the Motherland of Wisconsin cheese, New Glarus, WI. The area is well-known to tourists and claims to be "Little Switzerland". It was settled by Swiss emigrants and now draws tourists to sample the culture. The little town resembles a village in Switzerland with it's chalet style architecture and red geranium flowerboxes. I have been there several times before but never stayed overnight. My friend is of Swiss heritage and was in Glarus, Switz. a few weeks ago. She had never visited this Wisconsin town and I enjoyed it more because of her enthusiasm.

We stayed in the Landhaus Chalet Hotel and it was charming. Our first choice had been to get a room in the New Glarus Hotel located centrally downtown. We entered at the lower level and were told that this was the (pizza ) restaurant and bar. We followed the directions to go around to the side entrance to find the New Glarus Hotel. We did. The guy there affirmed this was the NG Hotel but they did not have rooms. The New Glarus Hotel is a restaurant. Perhaps I should have been asking for a "zimmer".

The village is decorated with life sized painted cow statues. I think this originated in a Swiss town. Chicago did this a few years back. There are cows on top of signs, cows reclining on outdoor patios, and cows in front of stores. This area thrived because the early immigrants brought their cheese-making skills from the old world and they owe their survival to cows. At one time there were 22 cheese factories in this small town. They made Wisconsin famous for cheese.

If you visit New Glarus, don't miss the historical old Swiss village. Our tour guides were very knowledgeable and the artifacts and recreated or preserved buildings are interesting.
There are many festivals and events that draw tourists. Check it out if you haven't already.

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