Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Fair State of Wisconsin

1960s circular building with yellow pointed roof and tower at top
I was driving through Wisconsin (Neillsville, to be exact) and what did I see but this vision of yellow-roofed modernity. It's a radio station and cheese gift shop, and who can resist that? So we had to stop and see what it was.

Looming black and white fiberglass cow
Next to the parking lot was Chatty Belle, the World's Largest Talking Cow. (Probably made in Sparta, Wisconsin, at FAST Signs.)

Square tiled mosaic of Indian braves dancing
Approaching the door, I saw this tile motif, wrapping the building in dubious taste.

Orange fake cheese shaped like a top hat and a cap
Inside, the cheese shop featured some unusual versions of the typical Wisconsin cheesehead hat.

Blue and white translucent ceiling with metal strutwork
Close up of the Wisconsin towerI got a good look at the ceiling over the gift shop.

And that was about it.

But wait! I noticed there were stairs to a lower level, and over the stairs a sign that said World's Fair Exhibit. That sounded interesting, so I descended.

It turned out that this building had been the Wisconsin pavilion at the 1964 New York World's Fair! It served 15,000 cattleman's beef dinners a day, and had the world's largest cheese on display.

The exhibit contained dozens of pieces of Fair memorabilia. (I attended the Fair when I was 4 years old; I'm told I was fascinated with the trash cans.)

Close up of the I Have Seen the Future metal button made by General Motors
I don't think we saw the futuristic General Motors pavilion, but we did get to see the Ford Pavilion. It included dioramas of cavemen and witches and other ominous things, and I tried to climb out of the car, which was a convertible.

Multicolored wax dinosaur figures standing on a brochure showing a map of the Dinoland grounds
One of the things I remember liking the best was Sinclair Oil's Dinoland. The Neillsville exhibit included this brochure showing a map of Dinoland, and six of the wax dinosaurs you could buy there. (The green brontosaurus was my souvenir of the Fair, and I had it for a long time.)

This was one of the best roadside finds -- at least, the best unplanned one. Who knew this was plunked in the middle of Wisconsin on highway 10?

1 comment:

Unknown said...

That exhibit you saw is courtesy of friend and World's Fair maven Bill Young, who hosts, THE site for '64 Fair info.