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It’s National Wisconsin Day! There’s no better day than today to celebrate all of Wisconsin’s beauty. From small-town farms to Friday night fish fries, and everything in between, this state is undeniably remarkable. Why not celebrate it?

In 2019, Governor Tony Evers officially declared Feb. 15, National Wisconsin Day. Turn on your polka music, grab a beer, and read through 5 ways you can celebrate the Badger State.

1. Learn Wisconsin’s History

Ever wonder how Wisconsin came to be? Even though today is National Wisconsin Day, it is not Wisconsin’s actual birthday. On May 29, 1848, Wisconsin became the 30th state. Lucky for us, this means we can celebrate our great state on that day too. The more, the merrier, right? However, Wisconsin’s history dates back much further than its birthdate.

Here’s a brief breakdown and some facts of Wisconsin’s history:

  • Evidence suggests that the early peoples of Wisconsin arrived about 10,000 years ago according to the article, “American Indians in Wisconsin: History” published by the Wisconsin Department of Health Services.
  • This area was heavily populated by the Chippewa, Menominee, Oneida, Potawatomi and Ho-Chunk (Winnebago) tribes until the late 1800s per the Wisconsin Historical Society (WHS).
  • In 1634, Jean Nicolet, a French explorer, was searching for the Northwest Passage to China, but rather unknowingly embarked on what we know as Wisconsin. Father Jacques Marquette accompanied Nicolet.
  • In 1673, explorer Father Jacques Marquette wrote, “The river on which we embarked is called Meskousing. It’s very wide, it has a sandy bottom.” Spelled in different ways, this name was used for the region surrounding the river. The present spelling, “Wisconsin,” was legalized in 1845 according to the Wisconsin Historical Society. The name is derived from Algonquian-speaking tribes.
  • Wisconsin was part of the territory ceded by France to Great Britain in the Treaty of Paris in 1763. Then, around 1783, Wisconsin became a part of the United States of America.

More facts about Wisconsin history can be researched online and in-person. Use the Wisconsin Historical Society and the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. Explore Online Exhibits from the Wisconsin Historical Society, visit Old World Wisconsin, and the Milwaukee Public Museum to learn more.

2. Eat & Sip on Wisconsin Favorites

What better way to enjoy this day than to munch on some of Wisconsin’s favorite foods. Consider having a fish fry for dinner. Not sure where to go? In Racine County, check out, this Fish Fry Guide.

Not feeling fish? Go for some cheese curds, grab a scoop of custard, or even sip on an Old Fashioned. Maybe a Spotted Cow is more your speed. If not, pay homage to Milwaukee by cracking open a cold one and get to drinking a good ‘ole PBR (that’s Pabst Blue Ribbon for non-Wisconsinites).

You couldn’t really celebrate Wisconsin without devouring a kringle. You can find something sweet at multiple bakeries in Racine.

If all else fails, share a casserole with a neighbor and enjoy some good Wisconsin company. You can never go wrong when surrounded by a fellow Wisconsinite.

3. Visit a State Park

There’s still time left in the day to visit a state park. Wisconsin is full of beautiful grassy plainlands that are just waiting to be explored. Close to Racine and Kenosha County is Richard Bong Recreational Area and Big Foot Beach State Park. You can find a park near you or in Wisconsin by visiting the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources’s Find a Park resource. By using this tool you can locate Wisconsin State Parks, Forests, and Trails.

Thinking about traveling? Take some advice from Chelsey Knuth, a Wisconsin enthusiast, and read our article, The Wisconsinista Encourages Local Travel.

4. Support Local Businesses

Among the beauty of our state are local businesses that help keep our economy going. On National Wisconsin Day, consider supporting local businesses. Supporting local businesses can be as easy as liking them on Facebook, purchasing a gift from their storefront, or writing a review. Another great way to support locals is by reading about new businesses. You can do so by visiting the Racine County Eye’s Business Spotlight segment.

5. Get Out To Vote

Wisconsinites, celebrate and share your voice by voting in the primary election. It’s happening today in various counties across Wisconsin. Visit the MyVote Wisconsin website to see if there is an election happening that you can participate in. Those who do not have races in the primary will not see a sample ballot. However, individuals will all be able to vote in the spring election on April 5.

If there’s an election, Wisconsin voters can register at the polls. Visit MyVote Wisconsin to find out what documents are needed at your polling location. All voters are required to show identification, so bring a valid form of ID. If you are voting by absentee ballot, use a dropbox outside your clerk’s office for this election. Please note, a court ruling has officially made drop boxes illegal for the spring election taking place on April 5.

The Racine County Eye and Kenosha Lens are committed to providing you with accurate, timely election information. Visit our Election guide for candidate information. We are your source for local news that serves our diverse communities. Subscribe today to stay up-to-date with the latest election coverage and other news.