As Wisconsinites, we all deal with an abundance of stereotypes – we all drink too much, eat too much cheese, we all drink Pabst and Schlitz, carry an extra layer of winter weight, and of course the only thing we care about is the Packers. While some of this does sound oddly familiar, we know there is so much more to growing up and living in Wisconsin. But, that doesn't mean that every once in a while it isn't a good time to enjoy some of these oddities that surround our beloved state.
Enter Fish Day.
If you haven't heard of this festival, well frankly, you should educate yourself. Fish Day takes place in beautiful Port Washington. It is billed as the world's largest one day outdoor fish fry. Contrary to popular belief, the festival does last only one day (although there are many who start early and finish late). I personally have attended this fishy fest on a regular basis for as long as I can remember. Then again, I also grew up in good ol' P Dub.
I chose to cut the parade this year (given that the best part in past years was the South Shore Drill team) and get some extra z's, safely tucked away from the madness in my Milwaukee apartment.
The first omen predicting trouble occurred before I had the chance to exit the freeway. While traveling I-43 northbound, a couch flew off a truck two cars in front of me. Fortunately, no one was hurt, but it added an extra five minute delay to my day drinking. Shame on you reckless driver, shame on you.
After a safe arrival, I hoofed it toward downtown to begin celebrating. I arrived at a friend's house party only to find that there was already a puker. Oh Fish Day, but it's so early! We drank our patriotic High Life and Budweiser before heading to another house party closer to downtown.
A mid-afternoon gathering, slight buzz, quarter barrel and a group of high school friends only meant one thing. Keg stands. Alright, maybe I'm a little old for this and yes, I was wearing a dress, but still. It had to be done.
Before I knew it, the sun was going down and so were my friends. Quite literally – as we set to exit the party, two comrades were napping/sunbathing on the lawn.
One lesson I've learned over the years, is that on Fish Day, anything goes. So when I arrived at the gas station with a group of friends (to slam a few vodka, iced teas), I was in no way surprised to see a woman casually strolling by with a snake. I'm not entirely sure if she understood that she was about to be asked by every drunk in the city if they could hold her snake. A few of my friends took turns and even a brave little boy jumped in.
Once we broke the snake charmer's trance, we set off for one of my personal favorite local watering holes, Schooner Pub. Arguably one of the best parts of Schooner is the beautiful back patio that overlooks the lake. This patio engulfed several hours as we drank shots and beers and told tales of Fish Days of yore.
Next stop, Newport Shores. This popular restaurant had live music set up in their parking lot. The effect of this decision was a healthy mix of age groups. Most of the friends I ran into here were out celebrating with their parents. Awkward dance moves were abundant as people sloshed around to the beat.
The conclusion of the fireworks marked the end of the night for a few, but not for me. Our group continued on to the next destination, Foxys. This local bar is somewhat of a hot spot for the under 30 crowd. It's almost considered a rite of passage to spend time here upon turning 21.
A few rounds ultimately led us back down the block to Schooners. I called it an early night after 10 hours of drinking and took the ride home offered to me by a friend's parents. That was so much better than stumbling the mile or so home to my own parent's house.
Another Fish Day has come and gone with success. Come for the fish, stay for the beer and live to tell the tale. If you weren't able to make it this year, there's always next year.
As a self-proclaimed aficionada of dive bars, Lisa Simonson knows a thing or two about drinking and our city’s bar scene. She now calls Milwaukee, one of America’s drunkest cities (coincidence?), home after growing up in world-famous Port Washington (“Step by Step,” anyone?) and spending time in both Minneapolis and London.
Now, back in her favorite city in the world, Simonson blogs about her adventures in Milwaukee, one bar at a time. Although her primary focus is sampling the best the city has to offer in beer, wine and whiskey, when not abusing her liver, Lisa can be found cruising on her bike, obsessing over Adobe products, jamming to her favorite bands or attempting to teach her cat to walk on a leash.