From Bikinis and Straw Hats to Cords and Cable-Knit Sweaters

by dellspause / Sep 17, 2009 / 0 comments

I am quite sure every small town has one, one of these rambunctious fall festivals.  here in Wisconsin Dells, it is Wo Zha Wa, native Winnebago for "Fun Times".  This Mardi Gras-esque weekend is a highlight of the year for locals.  Falling a standard two weeks after Labor Day weekend, it is the ultimate let-loose, the quintessential celebration of a good summer gone by and, by far, the most encompassing town reunion I have ever seen.  The area's high school reunions often fall the weekend before, and I found it funny when a friend, attending his 1999 class reunion this past Saturday, described conversations he expected to have all night, which went something like, "Hey, buddy, it's good to see you again, you going to Wo Zha Wa?...Yep, yep...I think the last time I saw you was...LAST WO ZHA WA!"  Ah, the inevitability of seeing your entire family, half of your high school, everyone you've dated and most everyone you've seen in the aisle of Zinke's, our local grocery store, under the eves of a big white tent in one night, in one four-hour period.


Oak Street, the heart of downtown, is blocked off for carnival rides, coin games, elephant ears and, most importantly, the Kilbourn Fire Department's beer tent.  A couple blocks away, an art fair takes over Bowman Park with 225 exhibitors.  The library hosts a book sale.  Swing Crew, a local band that has grown to legendary status, plays on Sunday, right after the 75-unit parade captures all attention.


There's something about these festivals.  They seem to come at the perfect time, right when the steamy September heat haze drifts into a peaceful chilly grey.  These fall celebrations mark the transition from draughted lawns to apple cider, from bathing suits to warm hoodies and scarves, from tennis to football, from mojitos to cabernet.


Speaking of transitions...


In the face of the Rotary's beef sandwiches, served in a tent right in front of my coffee house, in the face of the best brats in the area all year and in the face of hot corn on the cob dripping with butter, I've been concentrating on my own transition to healthier life habits.  Instead of indulging all weekend, I'm going to prepare.  It's key.  So, I think I'll make up a batch of that zucchini hummus I mentioned in a previous blog, and whip up some of my new favorite dip:


Cream Cheese & Chive Dip

1 cup cashews, soaked in water for 4-8 hours

1/4 cup water

2 tablespoons lemon juice

2 tablespoons chopped chives

2 teaspoons corriander

2 teaspoons dill

pinch of sea salt

Blend, stirring in the chives afterward.  I like to add a bit more lemon juice and corriander, too.  It's perfect with carrots! 


For more information on Wo Zha Wa, see 


Bianca Richards is the Organic Food Editor for Wandering Educators and owns and operates Pause, a coffee, beer and wine house in Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin.