The first week in March, my class of fourth and fifth graders, along with parent volunteers, took a four-day, three-night cultural tour of Dane County. We explored and documented farming, occupations, recreation, community life, religion, ethnicity, and traditional arts and crafts. My class sends a big thank you to all the people in the Black Earth area who helped us learn about everyday life in Dane County.
While we didn’t get the names of everyone we met, we do want to mention the following: Otto Rossbach and Ron Calkins of the Mazomanie Historical Society, who told us stories and took us on a tour of historical buildings; Nancy Viste, who gave us a tour of the Old Feed Mill restaurant; Viola Helt, who told us about the chapel at Indian Lake; Chief Paul Fosshage, Daniel Nalepinski, Tony Danz, Trish Parrell, and the other firefighters at the Black Earth Volunteer Fire Department, who told us the importance of community volunteers and gave us a memorable tour of all the equipment; Spud Rose and other employees at Black Earth Meats, who gave us a tour of the butcher shop and supplied many varieties of meat for our Wednesday night dinner; Ron and Joyce Poast, who showed us how to make hardanger fiddles; David Vondra, of Dew Signs, who demonstrated sign making; and most of all, Mike Danz, who gave us a tour of his hog farrowing operation, told us stories about fire fighting, and helped us arrange our visits to the fire department and butcher shop.
In the next few months, we will publish many of our photos, tape transcripts, and student writings and sketches at a web site (http://csumc.wisc.edu/cmct/DaneCountyTour/index.htm) produced by the UW’s Center for the Study of Upper Midwestern Cultures, with assistance from the Wisconsin Arts Board. We will also produce a small book about Dane County culture, which we hope to sell at the Farmers’ Market.
We appreciate the kindness and generosity we experienced in your community. We love being your Dane County neighbors.
Randall Elementary School