UW-Madison Day at Wisconsin State Fair features innovation, fun

July 26, 2012 By Susannah Brooks

Photo: State Fair panorama

UW-Madison Day at the Wisconsin State Fair promises hands-on fun and exploration.

Photo: Bryce Richter

Agricultural displays, special appearances and more than 20 “exploration stations” will bring the University of Wisconsin–Madison eastward as the Wisconsin State Fair celebrates UW-Madison Day on Wednesday, Aug. 8.

“We come to the State Fair to show the broad range of ways we do outreach around the state,” says Tricia Dickinson, marketing director for UW–Madison, which is partnering to present the event with the Wisconsin Alumni Association. “As fun, cool and exciting as these activities are, we’re glad to have the opportunity to share the ways in which the university helps the state.”

The exploration stations offer a fun, hands-on way to see UW–Madison research in action. A cluster of four stations explore water issues — an aquarium with fish, drought experts, groundwater and more. In addition, experts from departments such as entomology, plant pathology and horticulture will be on hand to answer questions and celebrate the 100th anniversary of the UW Cooperative Extension.

“This is a great way for a public land grant research university to share the kind of explorations and innovations we pursue every day — things that help make life better in communities all around Wisconsin,” says Tom Zinnen, coordinator of the exploration stations and biotechnology specialist with UW–Madison and the UW Extension.

Photo: State Fair donation box

UW-Madison will be collecting school supplies — both on campus and at the fair — to support students in Milwaukee Public Schools.

School spirit is always a big part of UW–Madison Day. A pep rally with the Spirit Squad will take place at 1:30 p.m., including a chance to “jump around” with fellow fans. Visitors can take pictures posing as a member of the UW Marching Band or a Badger football player. Other athletics activities include a pop-a-shot contest, the 2011 Big Ten Championship Trophy and Paul Bunyan’s Axe, won by the victor of the Wisconsin-Minnesota football games.

Leading the daily parade at 3 p.m., the refurbished Bucky Wagon will demonstrate another state connection with Miss America 2012, Laura Kaeppeler of Kenosha, aboard. The 1932 LaFrance fire engine, a longtime fixture of football pre-games with the UW Spirit Squad, recently underwent a two-year restoration and update. Thanks to a collaboration between the UW–Madison College of Engineering and major corporate sponsors, including Pierce Manufacturing of Appleton, the Bucky Wagon is now an environmentally friendly electric vehicle.

Current students will also make their presence known. A capella group Fundamentally Sound, DJs from student radio station WSUM, art majors from Fresh Hot Press and medical students studying in Milwaukee through the TRIUMPH program will all help show how UW–Madison is educating future performers, leaders and scholars.

The university hopes to make an impact that lasts longer than a single day at the fair. Continuing a longstanding tradition, a school supply drive on the Central Mall will support students in the Milwaukee Public Schools. Collection boxes across the UW–Madison campus will also make it possible for people to donate supplies whether attending the State Fair or not.