The 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 the 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, is 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.

Admission: free.

Highlights

Sportsman's Show. There are daily demonstrations of flycasting, Indian archery and field work with hunting dogs.  Trout fishing is available for fishing enthusiasts.

Restaurants. Flame-grilled steak is served in the Gay 90's cafeteria.  Banjo players and an old-fashioned nickelodeon provide music in the beer garden, where the menu offers a typical Wisconsin knackwurst lunch.
**


Wisconsin-based architect John Steinmann was 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.

The theme structure, being in essence a tent-like structure, was perfect to represent the outdoorsman-like exibits on display.  Wisconsin was a state which enjoyed the great outdoors...and had plenty of it to offer.  Sure, it's America's dairyland, but there was much more to share about Wisconsin than its cheese factor.

That's not to say that cheese didn't figure heavily in the pavilion's exhibits.  The world's largest cheese block was displayed in an air-conditioned semi trailer with special glass surrounding it so people could see it.


At 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 due 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.

During The Fair, the rotunda was a single-floor, completely open space.  When it was reconstructed in Wisconsin, a basement level (pretty much an inverted copy of the lobby structure) was added.  Stairs near 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 building was divided into two floors.  The ground floor holds radio stations.  The upper floor houses the broadcast offices.  The 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 on a glass and chrome enclosed flatbed, a replica of the original cheese was placed on display next to the pavilion.  The real cheese had 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 replica 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 Fair.


I visited 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 Kevin Grap, the pavilion's owner, to make arrangements to visit since the only day I could visit would be a Sunday.

The 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.  The next sign down said "Pavilion Cheese & Gifts", which made my stomach soar.

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 tell 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 spun her yarn about the yellow tepee-shaped structure to her left.

Behind the pavilion are the studios of Central Wisconsin Broadcasting's "The Rock" 107.5 FM, "Memories" 1370 AM, and 92.7 WPKG.  This portion of the building was added to accommodate WCCN's expansion.

From 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.

The sunken 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.


The sunken 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 pavilion.  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 visitors.

Stepping 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.)

There's a 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!


During the 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 studios.  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 September."

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.

Heading 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.


Across from 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 Fair".

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!

For the 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.

There 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 pavilion embrace the pavilion's historical significance!



While 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 you!


Enjoy 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! 

I 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. :)



This World's Fair pavilion is very active as a cheese and gift shop which sells local dairy products and Wisconsin-themed souvenirs.  The 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.

As 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 "Pavilion Cheese".

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 example, 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 expensive.

The structure, itself, however, has clearly been well preserved and in some cases upgraded.  Fans to circulate air in 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. 

Overall, this pavilion is being lovingly cared for in order to ensure it is around for future generations' enjoyment and the owners should be applauded!

If 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 owners, Kevin and Peggy, are exceptionally friendly and love meeting people who understand the significance of the building.  Just visiting them 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 the 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 man!).  Buy a few souvenirs with the pavilion on it.  At the time of my visit, they had shirts, mugs, and a few specially labeled items like caramels.

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!

Neillsville, Wisconsin is a small town in the heart of the state.  It's about a 3.5 hour drive from Milwaukee along beautiful highways.  You'll 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 can be flexible based on when someone is working at the radio station.  Let them know you're excited about visiting this World's Fair pavilion and request the updated hours so you can plan your visit accordingly.

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 relics 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!

Giving Thanks.

The 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 helping make my dream of personally visiting the remaining pavilions of the World's Fair come true.

Kevin Grap
Reesa Martin
Kristy Bronner
Nicole Desmond
Joe Desmond
Susan Tackett

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
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Official Guide New York World's Fair 1964/1965 (c.1964 Time Inc.)


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