At Camobodian Buddhist Temple

Writing Notes on the Bus

Kids outside of Troll Carvers

Getting off the Bus after the big trip

Pigs at Mike Danz' Pig Farm

Sign for the Auction in Green County

Cleaning at the Mt. Vernon Sportsmen Lodge

Clamps At Wally Keller's

At the Black Earth Fire Department

Tostada Dinner

Spinach Washer at Farm

Ron Poast demonstrates his fiddle

Learning how to polka at the 3D Dance Studio in Deerfield

Warming up near the Fire in Indian Lake

Cleaning up after Breakfast

Perry Halverson's Tobacco Farm

Animated Gif of a Bus

For four days in March 2002, fourth and fifth graders in Mark Wagler's class at Randall School in Madison traveled 370 miles through farming communities, small towns, and suburbs in Dane County in south central Wisconsin. We visited a cheese factory, a Cambodian Buddhist temple, three farms, and local gathering places. We interviewed folk artists, musicians, and community historians. We played cards at a senior center, listened to gospel singers, and went sledding three times. We talked with a well-driller, an auctioneer, a quilting group, and a fiddle maker.

This road trip was the climax of a year-long project. Students also documented Hmong culture in Madison, the Dane County Farmers' Market, a nearby cemetery, and a local synagogue. A world-class jazz bassist, a yodeling cheesemaker, and a maple syrup maker visited our classroom. Equally important, students did fieldwork with their families and neighbors, documenting celebrations, storytelling, foodways, crafts, and family customs.

Get on the bus with us by clicking on Our Tour By Location. Move your cursor across the county map to travel through Mazomanie, Waunakee, Sun Prairie, Deerfield, Rockdale, Stoughton, Black Earth, Mt. Horeb, Belleville, and Verona. Stop whereever a menu pops up and discover Dane County up close.

Or sit back and enjoy Our Tour By Theme. If you're interested in farming, explore hog, spinach, tobacco, and dairy farms, and don't forget the farmer's coop. Enjoy arts and crafts? Then check out the wooden trolls, metal sculptures, rosemaling, lace making, sign painting, and tombstone designs. And if you want to witness community, visit an ethnic restaurant, community festival, Hmong wedding, and volunteer fire department, or tour every site in a single town.

Finally, if you want to know How We Did It, you can read about teachers, kids, parents, and consultants organizing the entire project; check out some of the assignments students did; and hear about the different ways we represented our county's culture--besides this web site, we created a book, photo display, potholder exhibit, and articles in a student journal.

Everywhere we experienced remarkable kindness--churches opened their doors for overnight lodging; volunteer firefighters gave us rides on their truck; a butcher provided many kinds of meat for one of our dinners and we were served Norwegian pastries at least four times; a class of fourth graders learned to polka with us and joined us for an evening potluck; and everyone invited us in and patiently answered our questions.

Our sense of home has expanded from a small community in the center of Madison to include many nearby places. Dane County is much bigger and more delightful than we ever thought. Our reports, poems, drawings, and photos describe and celebrate our new big home. We invite you to join our cultural tour.

The Dane County Cultural Tour was funded in part by the Dane County Cultural Affairs Commission, with additional support from the Center for the Study of Upper Midwestern Cultures, the Wisconsin Arts Board, Randall School, and the parents of Room 202.

Our Tour by Location | Our Tour by Theme | How We Did It
Link back to the Center for the Study of Upper Midwestern Cultures

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This page last updated on January 3, 2003