Wisconsin pavilion, in the style of the Dexter Press postcards created
for the Fair.*
The Indian heritage of the Badger State provided the inspiration for
the modern tepee that houses this exhibit. The displays tell
stories of Wisconsin's farms, industries and great outdoors.
Outside the pavilion, experts demonstrate fishing and archery
techniques. A 17-ton cheese, said to be the world's largest,
displayed on a huge, air-conditioned van, protected by chromium and
class. A cafeteria and a beer garden are located in the area,
which is set amid pine trees.
Sportsman's Show. There
are daily demonstrations of flycasting, Indian archery and field work
with hunting dogs. Trout fishing is available for fishing
steak is served in the Gay 90's cafeteria. Banjo players and
old-fashioned nickelodeon provide music in the beer garden, where the
menu offers a typical Wisconsin knackwurst lunch.**
Wisconsin-based architect John
contracted to design a pavilion which would symbolize the state's
ancient, Native American heritage while still looking forward to the
future. By using a tepee, a structure which symbolizes Native
American culture to most modern Americans, he was able to visually
communicate that aspect of the state's story. By having that
tepee constructed using ultra-modern lines and made out of modern
materials, he was able to show how modern Wisconsin was. At
night, in addition to a flood of light washing over the tepee, the
tall, thin, diamond-shaped spires around the pavilion created a visual
representation of a star-lit night sky.
theme structure, being in essence a tent-like structure, was perfect to
represent the outdoorsman-like exibits on display. Wisconsin
a state which enjoyed the great outdoors...and had plenty of it to
offer. Sure, it's America's dairyland, but there was much
share about Wisconsin than its cheese factor.
That's not to say
that cheese didn't figure heavily in the pavilion's exhibits.
world's largest cheese block was displayed in an air-conditioned semi
trailer with special glass surrounding it so people could see it.
the conclusion of the New York World's Fair, the tepee portion of the
pavilion was purchased by Ivan Wilcox, a resident of the Wisconsin town
of Boscabel. Once it was disassembled, it was shipped back to
Wisconsin for installation. Unable to reassemble the pavilion
to unexpected costs, he sold the pavilion to Central Wisconsin
Broadcasting, who reconstructed it in Neillsville. There, it
would house a new radio station as well as a cheese and gift shop.
The Fair, the rotunda was a single-floor, completely open
When it was reconstructed in Wisconsin, a basement level (pretty much
an inverted copy of the lobby structure) was added. Stairs
the entrance to the pavilion take visitors down to a sunken garden
which wraps around the outside of the basement level. The
original pavilion structure was placed on top of this new basement
level. Inside the original rotunda, the back half of the
was divided into two floors. The ground floor holds radio
stations. The upper floor houses the broadcast
new basement level holds stock rooms, restrooms, a small exhibit of
privately-owned World's Fair memorabilia, and historical photos of the
pavilion in its early years.
Another part of the original New
York World's Fair exhibit, the "World's Largest Cheese" also had made
its way to the newly-erected pavilion in Wisconsin. Displayed
a glass and chrome enclosed flatbed, a replica of the original cheese
was placed on display next to the pavilion. The real cheese
been cut up and sold as part of a fundraiser for a local boys band in
Eau Claire shortly after the Fair had ended, so a replica was
commissioned to be displayed. The original truck and the
cheese had become severely damaged by the elements, were removed in
2005, and are no longer on display.
Chatty Belle, the "World's
Largest Talking Cow", stands between the pavilion and the concrete pad
where the World's Largest Cheese once stood. If you drop a
quarter in the box in front of her, she'll tell you a quick story about
the pavilion and how it travelled all the way from the New York World's
the Wisconsin pavilion in July of 2017 after driving from
Orlando to Milwaukee for an automotive club convention. It was 3.5
hours away in the opposite direction from my route home, but
my thought was "when else am I going
to get to visit this pavilion?". I reached out to
Grap, the pavilion's owner, to make arrangements to visit since the
only day I could visit would be a Sunday.
drive was long and there were points where my phone's GPS lost touch
with the universe, but I finally made it to this beautiful little gem
from the World's Fair.
Out front, a sign by the road proudly
proclaimed "WCCN's Wisconsin Pavilion of 1964 New York World's Fair".
Just seeing this on the sign made my heart soar.
sign down said "Pavilion Cheese & Gifts", which made my stomach
I parked my car and walked around a bit before going in.
Off to the side of the parking lot stands Chatty Belle, the "world's
largest talking cow". For a quarter, she'll come to life and
you the story of the pavilion's origins and how it managed to find its
way to Neillsville.
While I was walking around, several couples
on motorcycles and a family with small children came to visit her.
Each placed a quarter in her box and listened to her as she
her yarn about the yellow tepee-shaped structure to her left.
the pavilion are the studios of Central Wisconsin Broadcasting's "The
Rock" 107.5 FM, "Memories" 1370 AM, and 92.7 WPKG. This
of the building was added to accommodate WCCN's expansion.
this little, unassuming addition, so much music and sports content is
travelling out into the world...keeping this little remnant of the New
York World's Fair an important part of the community it now serves.
Tell me that doesn't make you smile just a little bit.
To the left
of the walkway which takes you into the pavilion, there is a staircase
which will take you down to a beautiful sunken garden with stacked
stone walls, beautiful flowers, fountains, and inspirational plaques.
Benches in this area allow the weary traveller a moment to
sit, gather their thoughts, and just rest in the shade of the pavilion.
For those of you who enjoy visiting your local ice cream stand, this
would be a great place to get some cheese and enjoy a snack before
moving along on your drive.
gardens wrap about halfway around the bottom of the pavilion and are a
pleasant way to decompress ater the long drive to Neillsville.
While I was there, I noticed plenty of little pollinators
like butterflies hopping from beautiful flower to beautiful flower.
The fountains create a peaceful white noise which drowns out the sounds
of any cars or trucks passing by or pulling into the lot just feet
away. It truly was a great place to sit and relax after my
3.5 hour trek.
gardens are also a great place to get up close and personal with the
original tile murals which wrap around what used to be the base of the
These murals, each of which depict Wisconsin's
"native" inhabitants, have been
lovingly cared for.
Not too many people realize that the
building, itself, was meant to be a space-age representation of a
tepee, or Native American tent structure. Keeping this
important and historical design element intact helps to educate
inside the pavilion, you are surrounded by locally-sourced cheeses,
wines, crafts, and pavilion souvenirs. There is truly
something here for everyone.
The variety of cheeses run from your average cheddar to more expensive
and exotic blends. Sausages of different kinds are also
available to accompany your cheese should you so choose.
The rotunda is stocked full of anything you can think of which
represents the charm of Wisconsin.
One of my
favorite details is that all of their locally-sourced, specially-aged
cheeses proudly feature lables with the pavilion's image on them.
I'm not gonna lie. I was a total weirdo and asked for a
couple blank labels for my personal World's Fair collection.
Of course, that was after I selected a few of the amazing
cheeses and sausages to take home with me.
(I bought and brought a plug-in cooler for this very purpose.)
small selection of pavilion merchandise also available. Mugs,
tee shirts, and packaged candies were all available during my visit.
Prior to my trip, I had reached out to the pavilion's owners to see if
they had any of the original Houze Art dishes which were available when
the pavilion opened in Neillsville.
To my elation, they were able to find one and allowed me to purchase
it. I kept that thing on my passenger seat all the way back
to Florida... smiling every time I looked over!
Fair, the rotunda was a single-floor, open area. When it was
installed in Neillsville, the back half of the rotunda was divided into
two floors. The ground floor contains the original radio
The second floor contains the offices.
As you head upstairs to the offices, you can see the "W" motif of the
glass roof cap. The post coming down into the cap is the
bottom of the tower above the pavilion which reads "WISCONSIN".
At the top
of the stairs sits an architectural model of the pavilion, showing the
construction method used to build it along with a few fast facts.
Inside, you can see the original layout of the rotunda during
the New York World's Fair.
In the offices behind the model, binders of historical documentation
are on file which tell the pavilion's World's Fair story as well as
document its relocation to Wisconsin. With their permission, I snapped
photos of a few of the pages to share here.
One of my
favorite captions in the book is for the picture on the left.
It reads "Giant cow looks on as construction continues in
The binder is full of "progress report" style photos for each phase of
the pavilion's reconstruction. Everything from ribbon-cutting
to foundation pouring to the installation of the sky dome (the glass
cap of the tepee was installed as a single piece) is documented inside.
Being able to page through the binders was mind-blowing.
downstairs into the lower level, visitors will find a wall of
beautiful, clear photos of some of the amazing events the pavilion has
been part of. Everything from its openening to what appeared
to be several "Miss Dairyland" visits are represented in an almost
floor-to-ceiling display. I enjoyed looking at every single
photo, admiring the way people were dressed, the freshness of the
pavilion, and even got a giggle from some of the more "spontaneous"
photos on display.
the "wall of fame" is a large display cabinet FULL of memorabilia from
the New York World's Fair. It's all part of a private
collection and not available for sale, but it covers everything from
general World's Fair souvenirs to Wisconsin pavilion specific items
like the official plaque given to the pavilion on "Wisconsin Day at the
There's a selection of Sinclair Dinoland Mold-A-Ramas on display and
even a complete US Rubber Ferris Wheel Toy! For fans and collectors of
the New York World's Fair, this place should be considered a Mecca!
record, the anniversary of "Wisconsin Day" is July 9th... and yes,
that's a little toy replica of the truck which hauled the "world's
largest cheese" to the Fair just out of frame.
is so much memorabilia on display that you could very easily spend an
hour looking at each piece in detail. To be honest, I just about did...
but it was totally worth it to see how the owners of the
embrace the pavilion's historical significance!
Neillsville, Wisconsin may be off the beaten path for many and the
drive may be long and without much to see along the way, you totally
owe it to yourself to check out the Wisconsin Pavilion of the
New York World's Fair 1964/1965. While you're there, drop a
quarter in Chatty Belle's box, pick out some cheeses, rest in the
sunken gardens, and tour the World's Fair museum. It'll be
the best two hours you've spent in a long time!
Oh... And if you happen to see Kevin, be sure to let him know I sent
this short video of myself with Chatty Belle during my visit to the
Wisconsin pavilion in 2017. I had just driven 3.5 hours from
Milwaukee, spent a little over an hour inside the pavilion looking
through historical documents and checking out the building, and talking
with the most hospitable person I have ever met in my life!
don't normally like to record myself on video, but I was on "cloud 9"
at the time I recorded this and felt compelled to be in the video. :)
World's Fair pavilion is very active as a cheese and gift shop which
sells local dairy products and Wisconsin-themed souvenirs.
owners are very aware of its significance and knowledgeable of its
history. Using what resources they have, they have managed to
keep this relic of the 1964-65 New York World's Fair looking great.
proof of their respect for the history of this pavilion, several
merchandise items feature an image of the building along with "1964-65
New York World's Fair Wisconsin Pavilion" on it. Their cheese
labels also include an image of the pavilion along with the words
The paint on the pavilion is difficult to
maintain due to the general design of the building, so paint work isn't
necessarily done on a regular basis. The roof paint, for
is left to deteriorate until it gets to a point where it would make the
best financial sense to spend the money on having someone come out with
specialized equipment to strip and repaint it...which can get pretty
The structure, itself, however, has clearly been well
preserved and in some cases upgraded. Fans to circulate air
the rotunda were installed, original lighting fixtures have been
maintained, the tile murals surrounding the base of the original
structure (which depict Wisconsin's original inhabitants, Native
Americans) have been well preserved.
pavilion is being lovingly cared for in order to ensure it is around
for future generations' enjoyment and the owners should be applauded!
you are ever in Wisconsin, regardless of the drive it would take to get
there (I drove 3.5 hours West from a convention just to visit and buy
cheese before driving back 5 hours East to my hotel in Chicago that
night), I highly recommend you visit the pavilion. The
Kevin and Peggy, are exceptionally friendly and love meeting people who
understand the significance of the building. Just visiting
would go a long way to letting them know how much their work to
preserve this pavilion is appreciated.
Buy their local cheese
products. I can tell you from personal experience that it is
most amazing cheese I have ever had in my life (I'm not regularly a
cheese person...but oh this cheese is making me a changed
Buy a few souvenirs with the pavilion on it. At the time of
visit, they had shirts, mugs, and a few specially labeled items like
Drop a quarter into Chatty Belle's box and let her
tell you the story of the pavilion. Help support this local
attraction so it can be around for generations to come!
Wisconsin is a small town in the heart of the state. It's
3.5 hour drive from Milwaukee along beautiful highways.
pass through the Wisconsin Dells on your way there, and there are
plenty of exciting waterparks and nature attractions to explore on your
way to the Wisconsin pavilion.
Visit the pavilion's
official website and be
sure to reach out to them via their e-mail link should
you decide to plan a visit. Their stated hours of operation
be flexible based on when someone is working at the radio
station. Let them know you're excited about visiting this
Fair pavilion and request the updated hours so you can plan your visit
Remember...These wonderful experiences from the New
York World's Fair are still around today thanks to the support of
certain individuals or organizations. While visiting these
from The Fair, be sure to ask how you get involved to help ensure they
remain part of our world! You might just be able to become an
important part of the legacy of the New York World's Fair, too!
following individuals contributed towards making it possible for me to
visit and document this remnant of the 1964/1965 New York World's Fair.
I'd like to take a moment to personally thank them for
make my dream of personally visiting the remaining pavilions of the
World's Fair come true.
This page is hereby dedicated to them.
*Postcard Image - Photo manipulation of photo taken of
original Pruden ad during visit. Copyright Jason Tackett.
**Official Guidebook Information - Official
Guide New York World's Fair 1964/1965 (c.1964 Time Inc.)
is an unofficial New York World's Fair 1964/65 fan site and is in no
way affiliated with any single organization or group representing the
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recognition is given whenever possible. No
parts of this site are to be reproduced without permission.
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