Trick-or-Treat 2016

October is upon us, and that means that it’s time to get creative with costumes for one of the most frighteningly fun times of the year for littles: Trick-or-Treat time! WCVB is your one stop spot for all of the Trick-or-Treat times throughout Walworth County. Find the perfect costumes, scope out the list, grab a candy bucket or two, and get ready to pound the pavement for spooktacular, sugar-filled fun!

All of us at WCVB hope that you have a safe and bone-chillingly fun Halloween! For more Halloween fun, for kids big and little alike, check out the Events Calendar on our website.

The Kid-Friendly Ice Cream Social Cruise with the Lake Geneva Cruise Line

Just about every kid loves ice cream, and the Lake Geneva Cruise Line has a way to make ice cream even better: have it on the Grand Belle while touring Geneva Lake.

Boats are as fascinating to kids as ice cream, especially big boats. There’s no denying the stature of the Grand Belle in Lake Geneva Cruise Line’s fleet and it always impresses its passengers, big and small. As I’ve mentioned in previous blog posts, my niece, Love Bug, and I like to plan special outings together. One afternoon she started rattling off of the things she needs to do in her life (she’s seven, mind you). The list had a great deal to do with transportation. She wanted to fly in an airplane, ride a train, ride the subway, float in a hot air balloon, and go on a big boat. We checked the train off of her list earlier this year, and I thought the Lake Geneva Cruise Line would be the perfect way for her to experience a “big boat”. I wasn’t sure which cruise to take her on, but with the helpful staff at the Cruise Line, it was decided that the Ice Cream Social Cruise would be just right for my Love Bug.

Lake Geneva Cruise Line Ice Cream Social, Lake Geneva, Walworth County, WI

When we arrived at the Riviera Docks, downtown Lake Geneva, she was immediately enamored by the fleet of boats. Once I pointed out the boat that we would be going on, her mouth dropped open. She was tickled pink that we were going on a boat that big. We arrived a little early, and the wait was killing her. She kept walking closer and closer to the boats to check them out. I heard the question, “Is it time yet, Auntie?” entirely too many times inside of ten minutes. When it was finally time to start the line to the Grand Belle, she raced down the pier so she would be one of the first in line.

Lake Geneva Cruise Line Ice Cream Social, Lake Geneva, Walworth County, WI

Upon stepping onto the Grand Belle, she had to make the decision of where to sit, upstairs or down. She quickly scanned the bottom floor and decided that we needed to go upstairs. Once up top, she couldn’t decide where the best place was to be. She liked the tables inside, because that’s where the ice cream sundaes would be delivered, of course. But the view of the lake from the stern intrigued her, too. In time she settled on sitting at the stern of the boat…but not until after we had our ice cream.

Lake Geneva Cruise Line Ice Cream Social, Lake Geneva, Walworth County, WI

Out on the lake, Love Bug thought as much of the mansions as the adults did. When she saw one that really sparked her interest, everyone around was following her arm to shore as she pointed out her “favorite” one (she had quite a few favorites as we toured the lake).

As kids do, Love Bug got a bit antsy and decided we needed to further explore the Grand Belle. Half way through the cruise she decided it was time to go see the bow of the boat. She checked things out, was surprised by the amount of wind at the front of the boat, and then said a quick hello to the captain, who gave her a chance at the helm. That kid couldn’t have beamed brighter.

Lake Geneva Cruise Line Ice Cream Social, Lake Geneva, Walworth County, WI

Once the tour wrapped up, she excitedly scooted down the stairs, and out, thanked the staff for the tour, and was ready to have her picture taken by the Grand Belle. I do believe that all those smiles translate into this: a Geneva Lake cruise and an ice cream social is fun no matter how old you are.

To learn more about the cruises the Lake Geneva Cruise Line offers, please visit their website or follow them on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.

Lake Geneva Cruise Line Ice Cream Social, Lake Geneva, Walworth County, WI

Pick of the Patch: Pumpkin Patches 2016

Charlie Brown may have found THE Great Pumpkin, but that doesn’t mean that you won’t be able to find your perfect pick of the patch this autumn. The Lake Geneva area is home to multiple farms where you can pick your own pumpkin, or choose your favorite from available pre-picked pumpkins.  Many of the area patches are already open and ready for pumpkin season, with just a couple of the pick-your-own patches opening October 1st.

Pumpkin Patches throughout the Lake Geneva area, Walworth County, WI

Here are a few quick pumpkin patch links:

Apple Barn Orchard & Winery

Pearce’s Farm Stand

Pesche’s Greenhouse & Gift Barn

Royal Oak Farm Orchard (Pick-Your-Own begins October 1st)

The Elegant Farmer (Pick-Your-Own begins October 1st)

For more fall fun in the Lake Geneva area, please go to VisitWalworthCounty.com.

International Helmet Awareness Day with West 20 Saddle Co.

Anyone who loves riding horses knows the importance of riding with a helmet. September 17, 2016 is International Helmet Awareness Day (IHAD). For those of you that are unfamiliar with IHAD, it is a program aimed at educating equestrians about riding helmet safety through a global equestrian retailer network.

Helmet fitting at West 20 Saddle Co. in East Troy, Walworth County, WI. Wisconsin's largest tack shop.

My seven-year-old niece is crazy about horses and takes regular riding lessons with a local trainer. Since she started riding, she has been borrowing a helmet for lessons. After learning about IHAD, I thought it was time for her to get fitted for her own helmet so that she is prepared for riding, even outside of lessons.

The West 20 Ranch and Saddle Company in East Troy offers a generous selection of helmets from various brands, including Charles Owens, IRH, Ovation, and Troxel. Personally, I don’t know a thing about riding helmets, so I left it to the staff at West 20 to provide the knowledge to find my niece the right helmet.

West 20 Saddle Co. in East Troy, Walworth County, WI. Wisconsin's largest tack shop.

West 20’s staff lined up all of the youth helmets for my niece to choose from. We discussed the type of riding she does, and the different options of the helmets. After our brief conversation my niece chose which helmet she liked the best. In addition to loving horses, she also loves the color pink. It wasn’t a tough choice for her; she wanted the pink one! Fortunately, the chosen pink helmet had many great fitting options so it was right for her needs in addition to being her favorite color.

Helmet fitting at West 20 Saddle Co. in East Troy, Walworth County, WI. Wisconsin's largest tack shop.

There are four steps to finding a helmet that fits properly and West 20 walked us through them.

  1. Measure: Measure the circumference of the head one inch above the eyebrows.
  2. Prepare the helmet: Open up the helmet’s fitting system (usually a ratchet on the back of the helmet and a chin strap) to its widest position. When you’re unsure of how it will fit, try the largest setting and go from there.
  3. Position the helmet: If it’s too tight, try another size. If it has the fitting system, adjust it to be snug and make note that the brim is about an inch above the eyebrows and level across.
  4. Check the fit: Shake your head from side to side and up and down. The helmet shouldn’t wobble, but also shouldn’t be so tight that it creates a headache.

Helmet fitting at West 20 Saddle Co. in East Troy, Walworth County, WI. Wisconsin's largest tack shop.

With the help of the knowledgeable and friendly staff at West 20 Saddle Co., my niece not only left with a perfectly fitting helmet that will keep her safe while riding, she also left with a helmet that she thinks is cool so there won’t ever be a problem getting her to wear it.

To learn more about IHAD or to get fitted for a helmet, visit the West 20 Saddle Co. In addition to finding a helmet that fits you correctly for safe riding, you can also save 20% on all stock helmets between now and September 18th in honor of International Helmet Awareness Day.

Find West 20 online, on Facebook, and on Instagram.

West 20 Ranch and Saddle Co.
W4812 State Highway 20
East Troy
(262) 642-4272

Watson’s Wild West Museum

I don’t know about you, but when I spend time with kids I like to find unique stops of entertainment. Mainstream excursions are fun, sure, but they lack character and originality. I have a seven-year-old niece, whom I call my Love Bug, and we like to plan day-long adventures together – just the two of us.  Whenever we plan a “Love Bug and Auntie Day” she usually gets to choose what we do. Her number one choice: Build-A-Bear. While I don’t mind taking her there once in a while, it’s the same experience every time. Nothing changes except the merchandise, and she doesn’t really get any lasting, impactful memories from it.

Having the treat of working with the Walworth County Visitors Bureau, I have the opportunity to learn about all of the amazing, fun things to do in the Lake Geneva area. We had a “Love Bug and Auntie Day” coming up, and I really wanted to go somewhere that would tie in with her current seven-year-old interests and give her a true experience. Right now she’s CRAZY about horses. With the horse theme comes cowboys/cowgirls, cowboy boots, cowboy hats…you get the idea. Come to find out, there’s a little slice of the Wild West right here in Walworth County at Watson’s Wild West Museum in Elkhorn.

Watson's Wild West Museum, Elkhorn, Walworth County, WI.

Love Bug was a bit apprehensive about going to a Wild West museum, most likely because we’d never done anything quite like this before. That said, she probably didn’t know what to expect. Once we pulled into the parking lot at Watson’s, her excitement instantly grew and I couldn’t park the car fast enough for her.

It genuinely looks like you are driving into the Wild West. There is an old mine, covered wagons, a big teepee, wagon wheels, and tons more. Love Bug was enamored by the place, and we hadn’t even gone inside yet!

Once she had her fill of the incredible outdoor display, she said it was time to go inside. The large wood door was of significant stature, so we gave it a good pull together to open it. The “foyer” hall was decorated from floor to ceiling in interesting vintage Wild West artifacts, but as soon as Love Bug saw the old saloon doors, she was ready to go in!

Watson's Wild West Museum, Elkhorn, Walworth County, WI.

We pushed through the saloon doors and there wasn’t anyone in sight. We went through the next door slowly peeking through when we heard a loud, “Howdy Partner!” There before us stood a tall, gentle man that looked as though he literally stepped right out of the American Old West. He had a huge smile on his face, introduced himself as Cowboy Doug, and welcomed us in true western fashion.

Panning for gold at Watson's Wild West Museum, Elkhorn, Walworth County, WI.

Cowboy Doug took us around the room sharing tall tales, offering tidbits of history, and helping us imagine life in the 1800s. There’s much to look at inside the museum, enough to enthrall both young and old. We talked about chores and entertainment of the time, panned for gold, yelled “Ye-Haw!” as we sat in an old western saddle, got roped, and even had a Sarsaparilla slid down the bar to us, just like they did in the old days.

When it was time to head out Love Bug showed off the stash of gold she panned for, grabbed a Sarsaparilla, and walked out looking back over her shoulder with that typical kid look of wanting more. She bounced across the parking area pointing out things she missed when we originally walked in. As I drove out of the museum lot I heard, “Auntie, when can we go there again?” That was all the confirmation I needed to be convinced that Watson’s Wild West museum trumped Build-A-Bear for a “Love Bug and Auntie Day”. I guarantee we’ll return for another visit, and I’m almost certain that the next trip will be as unique as this one was.

To learn more about Watson’s Wild West Museum, visit their website or follow them on Facebook!

Watson’s Wild West Museum
W4865 Potter Road, Elkhorn

Admission:
$5/Adults
$3.50/Child aged 4 – 10

It’s Apple Time

Autumn hasn’t quite arrived yet, but it is definitely in the air around Walworth County. There are many fun fall activities around the Lake Geneva area throughout the season, and apple picking is generally one of the first, early fall activities each year. With so many local orchards to choose from, you’re certain to find exactly what you’re looking for. Whether you want a day of family fun, or simply want to go browse local apple varieties, there’s an orchard in the area for you. Here’s a quick reference to the Pick-Your-Own and Pre-Picked orchards in the county.

It's Apple Time in Walworth County. Walworth County Apple Orchards; Pick Your Own & Pre-Picked.

Follow these quick links for additional information on each orchard:

Apple Barn Orchard & Winery
W6384 Sugar Creek Road, Elkhorn

Little Miss Sweet Pea
431 E. Geneva Street, Elkhorn

Pearce’s Farm Stand
W5740 N. Walworth Road, Walworth

Quednow’s Heirloom Apple Orchard
W5098 County Road ES, Abell’s Corners/Elkhorn

Royal Oak Farm Orchard
15908 Hebron Road, Harvard

The Elegant Farmer
1545 Main Street, Mukwonago

The Great Midwest Pro Rodeo Returns!

Great Midwest Pro Rodeo at the Walworth County Fairgrounds in Elkhorn, WI.

Summertime brings so many exciting events to Walworth County, and the upcoming Great Midwest Pro Rodeo is no exception! Coming to the Walworth County Fairgrounds next month, the rodeo is full of fun and excitement for the whole family. I had the pleasurable opportunity to speak with Lenora N., from the Big Hat Rodeo Co., about the event and what it holds in store for 2016. Read on to learn what’s returning, and what’s new this year.

WCVB: Please tell us a little about the Great Midwest Pro Rodeo that is coming to Elkhorn.
LN: Big Hat Rodeo Company has been a family owned and operated business for 96 years. There have been 6 generations of our family in the rodeo business and there are still three generations at the rodeos. We are vigilant in ensuring that our spectators, sponsors and contestants can enjoy our performances with their families. There is something for everyone and we pride ourselves on seeing multi-generational families come back…year after year.

Big Hat Rodeo Company is proud to bring great rodeo action and excitement to Elkhorn. The Great Midwest Pro Rodeo is a phenomenal event that incorporates all of the fun, energy and thrills and spills you’d expect from a great rodeo PLUS hilarious rodeo clowns, the daring Wild Together Trick Riders, kids games and so much more.

WCVB: Where will the rodeo be held, and on what dates?
LN: The Great Midwest Pro Rodeo will be Friday and Saturday, August 19th and 20th at the Walworth County Fairgrounds in Elkhorn. Two HUGE performances at 7PM daily.

WCVB: Has the Great Midwest Pro Rodeo been to Elkhorn in the past?
LN: This is the 12th year for the Great Midwest Pro Rodeo to visit Elkhorn and it’s bigger and better than ever!

Great Midwest Pro Rodeo at the Walworth County Fairgrounds in Elkhorn, WI.

WCVB: What kind of events can we expect this year at the rodeo?
LN: The pro rodeo events are Bareback Riding (the rodeo’s most physically demanding event), Steer Wrestling (rodeos fastest event), Team Roping (the rodeo’s two-contestant event), Saddle Bronc Riding (the rodeo’s classic event), Tie Down Roping (the rodeo’s precision event), Cowgirls Barrel Racing (the rodeo’s ladies only event) and Bull Riding (the rodeo’s most dangerous and most popular event).

WCVB: Is the rodeo kid-friendly? Are there activities for kids at the rodeo?
LN: We offer several activities aimed at our younger audience members. A boot scramble allows kids in the arena, tons of fun and keeps them safe as well.

 

WCVB: Please tell us about the “Cowboys & Clowns” program.
LN: Cowboys and Clowns is great for kids of all ages. It’s a meet and greet with the cowboys and clowns, autographs and photo ops as well as some fun rodeo games and best of all, a chute tour so everybody gets a chance to meet our livestock “stars of the show”, including the bucking horses and bulls. It’s educational, it’s fun and it’s free with your rodeo admission.

Great Midwest Pro Rodeo at the Walworth County Fairgrounds in Elkhorn, WI.

WCVB: The website states that the rodeo assists a great cause. Please tell us about the cause, and how the rodeo helps.
LN: The Great Midwest Pro Rodeo is held to benefit the Memorial Rodeo Scholarship Fund that was actually started as a memorial for our parents, Rudy & Gene Calzavara, who spent their entire lives in rodeo and supporting young people who loved rodeo. They were passionate about education and with the cost of college increasing each year it’s becoming a struggle for many families to send their kids to college, without taking on massive student loans. Thousands of kids each year attend college with the help of rodeo scholarships, like ours. Each year we choose the recipients, based on their being full time students with a minimum of a 3.0 GPA and they have to be involved in rodeo in some way. If they’re on a rodeo committee, volunteer, compete, are specialty acts or personnel, they qualify. The scholarships are $2500 each and are awarded at the end of July each summer at the Grayslake, IL rodeo in the county where we were raised. After our parents passing we thought it would make them proud to continue to do what came so naturally to them…help kids further their education while letting them grow and achieve their rodeo goals. 100% of funds raised go directly to the scholarships. NO ADMINISTRATION FEES! We have donation bins throughout the grounds and we also have a boot pass with volunteers literally “passing cowboy boots” for donations. Usually we have a couple of adult games where the monies raised also go to the Fund. The Scholarship Fund has become a huge priority for family and friends. Although the Great Midwest Pro Rodeo is our only official annual fundraiser, you can also make donations on our website and even when you’re purchasing advance tickets. Go to http://www.bighatrodeo.com, click on ABOUT and it will take you to the Scholarship page or when you’re on our Tickets page to purchase Great Midwest Pro Rodeo Tickets, there’s a spot for donations of any size.

WCVB: Are concessions available at the rodeo?
LN: There is an amazing array of great food and drink concessions available. Everything from hamburgers and hot dogs to delicious prime rib sandwiches, funnel cakes, popcorn and so much more. Concessions open at the same time the entrance gates do…5PM daily.

Great Midwest Pro Rodeo at the Walworth County Fairgrounds in Elkhorn, WI.

WCVB: Are there any new features at the rodeo for 2016:
LN: Great news: There’s several NEW things in 2016…First, if you love sensational country music you may already be fans of “Chasin’ Mason”. They will be performing after both performances and I’ve heard rumors they’ll do a song or two during the rodeo as well. There’s no extra charge for the extra fun…it’s included with your rodeo ticket. There’s a beer garden at both ends of the grandstand and for our younger guests, there’s some miniature ponies coming to visit. Kids can see and pet them and they make everybody smile. An all-new VIP pit pass ticket is available only online or at the advance ticket locations. It includes seating on the raised infield stage, a visit with our rodeo clowns and specialty acts & beverages as well as some snacks. Cost is $25 per person.

WCVB: You’ve organized many rodeos. What is your favorite part about the Walworth County Fairgrounds event?
LN:  The Walworth County Fairgrounds is one of our all-time favorite venues for several reasons. First, it is impeccably cared for…always clean and neat and so easy to navigate. They have everything you’ll ever need for a successful, plenty of room with perfect locations for anything from parking, handicapped access, lighting, seating, concessions, restrooms, etc…and they have an amazing office and management team that works constantly to improve facilities, marketing and spectator conveniences.

WCVB: What kind of planning goes into a rodeo event like this?
LN: Rodeos are certainly a unique event with unique needs. Of course, marketing, growing a sponsorship program, lining up vendors, site needs, etc are all planned but attracting a great number of quality contestants, ensuring livestock comfort and safety, making sure personnel from the rodeo side as well as ticket sellers, parking people and for this rodeo they are all volunteers, which is simply amazing and so rewarding. We certainly could not stage The Great Midwest Pro Rodeo without the many volunteer hours that we are blessed with.

Great Midwest Pro Rodeo at the Walworth County Fairgrounds in Elkhorn, WI.

WCVB: How do the cowgirls and cowboys register for the competitive events? With only a few weeks to go before the event, is there still time to register?
LN: A huge percentage of our contestants are members of a major rodeo association and they all call into a central entry system to enter rodeos by phone and new in 2016, online entries are also accepted. Most of the events have already closed entries but there is also a possibility for some area member and non-member people to be able to compete. They would just need to email us at lenora@bighatrodeo.com or call me at 815/648-1957 (office) or 815/823-3245 (cell). I’d be happy to answer questions.

WCVB: Will there be an online roster of competitors before the event?
LN: No, there isn’t a complete roster of contestants available online BUT at the rodeo our guests receive a complimentary score sheet that has a schedule of events as well as the contestant names, hometowns and a place to keep score as the rodeo proceeds. There are also logos from some of our sponsors, who make the rodeo possible. Simon’s Feed and Seed, The Walworth County Fair, WSLD, and Copies and Prints Plus have been sponsors since the first rodeo and they are fantastic to work with.

WCVB: How much are the tickets to see the rodeo, and where can they be purchased?
LN: Tickets are really family friendly. Tickets are available through online advance sales as well as at our convenient advance ticket locations. Purchasing tickets in advances save you up to $3 per ticket!

Kids 4-Under are FREE!
Kids 5-11 and Seniors 65+ are only $8 in advance/$10 at the gate
General Tickets (12 years and over) are $12 in advance/$15 at the gate
VIP PIT PASSES are available online and at advance ticket locations for ONLY $25 per person.

ADVANCE TICKETS ARE AVAILABLE NOW AT www.bighatrodeo.com, in Elkhorn at the Walworth Co Fairgrounds office, at Simon’s Feed & Seed, in Lake Geneva at Copies & Prints Plus, and in IL at Woodstock Farm & Lawn. ALL ADVANCE TICKET SALES (online and at retail locations) ENDS THURSDAY, August 18th at 3 pm.

 

Hannah, Indian Hideaway

WCVB: Can tickets be purchased at the gate, or can they only be purchased prior to the event?
LN: Tickets will be available at the gate both days, but if you don’t have your tickets ahead of time, come early to avoid long lines and enjoy some great food.

WCVB: Are there any other details that you’d like to share with our audience about the upcoming rodeo:
LN: The Great Midwest Pro Rodeo features the spectacular bucking stock of the Big Hat Rodeo Company and includes many award-winning animals. It’s 2 ½ hours of non-stop action and excitement, tons of laughter and our rodeo fans will be there at the end of the rodeo cheering on their favorite competitors. You can make it a great evening under the stars and enjoy the sounds of Chasin’ Mason. Grab your cowboy boots and hats and load up your family and friends and come to the Great Midwest Pro Rodeo for a fantastic rodeo experience…and benefit a wonderful cause all at the same time!

To learn more about the upcoming rodeo, please visit the Big Hat Rodeo website. To purchase tickets online for the event, click here.