Author Archives: Audra Johnson

East Side is the Best Side for Madison Festivals

Isn’t it time for everyone to acknowledge the fact that the east side of Madison is home to all the best festivals in the city? Middleton can save their Good Neighbor Fest, the east side has La Fete de Marquette. All Madison festivals have the beer tent, the food carts, maybe some rides, food booths, music stage, crafty vendors, entertainment, local businesses and kid’s activities. But the special sauce that makes the east side festivals special is the people who go to the east side festivals. The east side neighborhoods have more character, therefore, the people have more character. Many east side festivals now benefit even more from the fact that the best venue for festivals is Madison’s Central Park.

All of the festivals listed below are free admission except for the Yum Yum Festival. The list you see below is in no way a comprehensive list, think of it as the best of the best list. Hands down, my personal favorite festival is La Fete de Marquette. But the bottom line is East Side beats West Side when it comes to Madison summer festivals. Here’s where you agree or disagree with me and add your nomination for best Madison Summer Festivals, share your opinions and leave a reply.

Best of Madison East Side Summer Festivals

Marquette Neighborhood Riverfront Festival
Sat, Jun 11, 2016 – Sun, Jun 12, 2016

Monona Community Festival
July 3 and July 4
Winnequah Park

La Fete de Marquette
July 14 -17
Madison’s Central Park

Atwood Summerfest
July 30 & 31
near the Barrymore Theater

Yum Yum Festival
August 21
Madison’s Central Park

Orton Park Festival
August 25, 26, 27, 28
Willy Street Fair
September 17 & 18


Its time for the annual membership drive April 10 – May 15 (only $15 per year!), and we’re also recruiting people to join the board. If you’ve lived in Elvehjem Neighborhood for one week, ten years, or any length of time, you’re invited to join the board. You don’t have to jump in and commit right away. Drop in on one of the monthly meetings, first Wednesday of the month, 7-9 p.m. at the East District Police Station 809 S. Thompson Drive. On Wednesday April 6, we’re holding the monthly meeting at Great Dane East, stuffing membership drive bags and talking about the annual meeting on April 9 9:00 a.m. at Messiah Lutheran Church.

I have been a board member for almost a year now, and it all started because I wanted to get involved and earn experience writing a blog, and coordinate fun social media contests in my spare time. It’s been a very positive experience overall and I highly recommend joining the board to anyone that’s even a little bit interested. So here are three reasons why you should take the leap and become a Elvehjem Neighborhood Association Board Member today.

Holiday in the Park

Holiday in the Park


You know who you are, you enjoy planning events for your family, your friends or work more than anyone you know. You spend your downtime on Pinterest pinning party decorating ideas and themes. We have event playbooks for Turkey Trot, Halloween Bonfire, 4th of July picnic to guide you. So bring yourself and your bright ideas to one of the board meetings soon.


If you’re in sales or non-profit development your skills are needed to ask for donations, if you’re a teacher your skills are needed to think of ideas for kids, if you’re a foodie we need help catering events, if you’re a writer we need proofers or newsletter article writers, if you’re a project manager your talents are always welcome.


You might be familiar and friendly with the people on your immediate right, immediate left or across the street. But there’s a great big neighborhood full of people to get to know. Participating in monthly meetings and holiday events are a great way to network with people outside your corner of the world.

4th of July

4th of July

Please consider joining the Elvehjem Neighborhood Association board and reach out to Justin Martin, Board President by phone or email today! 608/219-2060

Wisconsin Goes to the Movies

The 2016 Oscars are coming up Sunday, and to celebrate, I´m dedicating February´s blog to some famous movies set in whole or partly in Wisconsin. The titles I picked may or may not have actually filmed here on location. I included the original movie trailers for each of the titles too. I got the chance to be an extra in one of those movies, so keep reading to find out which movie it is.

I almost always host an Oscar party where I make a batch of macaroni and cheese, drink some drinks, and enjoy the show with friends. I’ve been hosting this Oscar Party for over 10 years now. I can’t be the only one who hosts an Oscar Party in the neighborhood, am I?

Movies Set in Wisconsin

The Great Outdoors -1988

This comedy classic was written by John Hughes and stars Dan Akroyd as Roman and John Candy as Chet. Two families from Chicago enjoy some time together at the fictional Pechoggin, WI resort on the improbably named Lake Potowotominimac. Look for the characters drinking authentic Point Beer!

The Deep End of the Ocean – 1999

Based on the novel written by Jacquelyn Mitchard who lives in Wisconsin. The story is about a 3 year old boy who disappears then reappears 10 years later. It turns out the boy and the family he was taken from have been living in the same town, Madison, WI the whole time. He’s been raised to believe he’s someone else and has to get to know his first real family all over again.

Public Enemies – 2009

The true story of John Dillinger (Johnny Depp) who escaped prison, robbed banks and led the FBI on a chase all over the state of Wisconsin in the 1930’s. I got to be a movie extra on this movie, dress up in vintage clothes, hang out on a set with Christian Bale and director Michael Mann. The bummer part is that I didn’t make the movie. But the experience was a once in a lifetime thrill!

Mr. 3000 – 2004

The late great Bernie Mac plays Stan Ross/”Mr. 3000”, an aging baseball player for the Milwaukee Brewers who is trying to redeem himself after some bad public behavior towards his fans. This was shot at Miller Park in front of a real hometown crowd.

American Movie – 1999

This is a documentary about Mark Borchardt, a dreamer who does everything he can to scrape together the financing he needs to make a horror movie he calls “Covan”. The movie is not only about Mark but the people in his social circle like Uncle Bill and his best friend Mike. All the action takes place on the northwest side of Milwaukee.

There are many many more movies set in Wisconsin, but these are the movies I am most familiar with and like the best. So chime in and tell me which Wisconsin set movies are your favorites.

Sneak Peek at the New MSCR East

The brand new MSCR East location is opening this month! This new facility is located in the Rolling Meadows Shopping Center at 4620 Cottage Grove Road, the outside sign is up check it out:

I was able to take a tour and take some pictures thanks to my tour guide Christine Reid, the Supervisor of Community Programs. The main rooms were mostly finished with remodeling and Christine described the various classes that will be held in each of the rooms. The modern facility is much much larger than you think with three very large studios, a meeting room, an art room, changing rooms and bathrooms. Keep reading this post to see pictures and descriptions of classes that will be held in the new rooms.

The MSCR East hours are Monday – Thursday 8am – 9pm, Friday 8am – 4pm, Saturday 8:30am – 1pm and Sunday 1:30pm – 5pm.
For more information go to or call 608-204-3000.


This room faces the parking lot on Cottage Grove Road, and the types of classes that will be held here are Cross Training, Strong Women, Strength and Balancing and general fitness. This is the second largest of the three activity rooms.


The largest of all the activity rooms, this room will host all types of classes. Zumba, Cardio, Dark Rope, 45 Mix, Pound, Hip Hop Fitness and lots more. Can’t you see yourself in this room with a few dozen of your closest friends doing Zumba?


Here is where the kids dancing classes will be held. Fun classes like yoga, ballet, and maybe some rhythm and movement.


The art room is where you can learn how to make things and learn things that interest you. There will be beading, guitar playing, knitting, jewelry making, sewing, and Facebook classes. Kids, adults and seniors are all welcome to sign up.


 IMG_3062    IMG_3072

MSCR expects to have 500 people per week using the facility and that number could climb to 1000 people per week. There are activities for ALL age groups infants to seniors. “We’re excited to serve the East side of Madison,” said Christine Reid. “We want people to check it out and use the space.” Reid also said MSCR is open to suggestions for classes and is always looking for volunteers who want to be instructors. You can email Christine with your questions, comments and suggestions

Elvehjem Neighborhood: Best of 2015

Best of 2015

Wouldn’t it be great to re-live some of the fun events and memories we all experienced this year with a Best of 2015 list? I’m listing events and things in no particular order and you’re more than welcome to provide your feedback on things I missed or add to the descriptions I’m providing.


I’m including this on the Best of 2015 list because right now we might be living through the warmest Christmas Season in my lifetime and I think it will be one to remember! Here’s a screen cap of the weather channel page for December 23, 2015.

Screen Shot 2015-12-23 at 5.34.09 PM


Spring time is just around the corner in the neighborhood and kids can’t resist a good egg hunt, especially when the Easter Bunny is around.

easter bunny and friends

Easter Egg Hunt


This was held at Orlando Bell Park the weather was nice so many families came to enjoy the bonfire, tell Santa what they want for Christmas, and eat cookies and drink hot chocolate. We collected LOTS of food for the food pantry as well!!

Santa and helper

Holiday in the Park


This was kind of a last minute addition to our calendar of events, but people got on their bikes with their families and explored our neighborhood on August 30. This is a picture of the Madison PD on a horse in my driveway on Starker Avenue.

ride the drive

Madison PD at Audra’s house


There wasn’t a whole lot of variety with the food cart options but people liked to come early with their kids and play in the yard. Sometimes there was even live music!

eat out music

Let’s Eat Out Live Music


It was time to enjoy the neighborhood garden harvest by taste testing all the lovely dishes made with ingredients from the community garden. The event didn’t last as long as planned because we all had to watch the Packers win!


Food and tables in front of the garden


People really get into their Halloween Decorations around here. Our neighbors really love their holiday decorations. But which holiday is responsible for the most decorations? Christmas or Halloween? Too close to call?

halloween house

Halloween Contest House


What’s a Fourth of July neighborhood celebration without a parade with fire trucks. Its no kind of parade I want to go to. Its a good thing our 4th of July parade has firetrucks every year!

4th of july

Fourth of July Parade

That’s it for the Best of 2015 list. It was eventful and memorable. Honorable mention goes to the critter trouble we had this year with the foxes and the coyotes. Since that topic is thoroughly discussed on our Facebook page I thought I would skip it, and leave it to the Facebook group since the topic is on-going.

Elvehjem Neighborhood Memories & Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is the start of the holiday season and making new memories with family, friends and neighbors. It’s also time when we think about the past and the people who mean the most to us. Our neighborhood has seen almost 50 Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s holidays come and go. Hopefully you’ll take the time over the holiday season to reach out and wish a “Happy Holidays” to the people who mean the most to you.



This month’s post is a contributed ‘open letter’ from neighborhood resident Barb Arnold who moved into a house on Timothy Avenue with her husband Fred and two sons Gary and Erik in 1970. Because they loved the neighborhood so much, when it came time to move they moved all the way to Meadowlark Drive where they have been ever since. Barb and Gary became very involved in the Elvehjem Neighborhood Association, the school board and common council. Please check back on this blog in December for “vintage” pictures of Barb and Fred’s home and family. If you have stories and photos to share from the past 50 years please feel free to send them to me Audra – I’m collecting them for a special 50th Anniversary project, more information will be shared about that in 2016.

An Open Letter from Barb Arnold:

In 1970 our family of four  (Erick and Gary at that time) moved to Timothy Avenue.   Immediately, we wanted to participate in  the life of the Elvehjem community.   To join the ENA we were told we would need to secure agreement from more  than 50% of the homes on Timothy.   With the almost unanimous support of our neighbors we fulfilled that  requirement.   Soon, we were engaged  in the life of this new Elvehjem Neighborhood Association.   Settling into an active community life,  Fred became vice-president of the ENA Board.   Attending our first meeting of the LVM  PTO in 1973 when Erick started kindergarten, we volunteered for both the local  PTO and the LaFollette Area Communications Council.   In 1975 Fred was elected our district  alder, Barb soon became president of the PTO, and our third son Steve was born  during the infamous ice storm of 1976.

Having outgrown our Timothy  home, we moved to Meadowlark Drive, where we’ve lived ever since.   Fred was elected Madison Common Council  President in 1978.    Always at  the heart of our family was engagement in this incredible community.   In 1982 Barb was appointed to the  Madison school board, in 1984 and 1987 won election to the board.   She served as its president from  1986-89.   Fred served six years on  the city council and then four years on the county board.

Our three sons thrived at  LVM, Sennett, and LaFollette.   There  was at least one Arnold boy attending Elvehjem for fourteen consecutive years  (not the same son).   We were strong  advocates for school referendums to make needed, responsible building  additions.   For example, in 1977 LVM  Elementary School housed 770 children in a space meant for 500.   The Madison community invested in needed  space.   We have always been grateful  for neighborhood support for schools with tax dollars, a gesture that reaps huge  rewards.

This vibrant community  encourages engagement and family event participation.   We were honored to facilitate  collaboration between our neighborhood and various governmental bodies – city  council, school board, and county board.   Always we felt the tremendous support of our  neighbors.
In 1990 the ENA Board gave  Fred and Barb an award for “twenty years of meritorious service to the ENA and  the wider community.”   No  recognition received over the years meant more to us.

It is a joy to watch this  neighborhood thrive as we begin to see more and more kids under five again.   As Justin Martin becomes the new leader  in a long line of outstanding presidents of the ENA, please continue to support  the board and each other.

Barbara and Fred  Arnold

So Many October Events So Little Time!

There are so many events and types of October events in the fall because its the season universally loved by most people who live in this part of the Midwest. I personally think its the best smelling season too. The food + falling leaves + cool weather = Yummy. I thought I would look around for a variety of events and make some recommendations to you. Hopefully there’s something for everyone represented here. If you have an event you want to include, please hit the reply button and let me know.


Corn Mazes

Skelly’s Farm Market – Janesville, WI – Open Friday, Saturday, Sunday during October. Click through for hours and location.

Creek Bed Country Farmacy – Poynette, WI 30 miles north of Madison. Corn maze, hayrides, and gift shop. Open Tuesday through Sundays.

Treinen Farm – This is my favorite! 20 miles north of Madison. Named one of the ten best fall corn mazes by USA Today. Corn maze, hayrides, food, farm, animals, gift shop. Zompocalypse is on October 24 for all you zombie fans, if you’re into that kind of thing.

Haunted Houses

Screamin Acres – Stoughton, WI There’s four attractions ‘The Last Resort’, ‘The Slaughter House’, ‘Side Effects’, and ‘Crawl Space’. Judging by the website, these guys know what they are doing. Open 7-11pm weekends.

Wisconsin Scaryland – 5305 County Hwy M Waunakee, WI between Northport Dr. and Hwy M. Legend says its the site of a gruesome murder at a meat packing plant; is there any other kind? Open Th-Sunday 6:30-11:30pm.


Green Lake Octoberfest October 17, 2-10pm – Heidel House Resort & Spa. Polka dancing contest, Klement Sausage races, Das Boot Relay, food, beer, live music.

Fall Festival Weekend Wisconsin Dells October 16-18 – Pumpkin decorating, scarecrow stuffing, face painting, live entertainment and more! It’s the Dells!

Wisconsin Book Festival Madison October 22-25 – There’s a book sale at the new library and authors fiction, non-fiction, cookbooks, memoirs, and many local authors talk about their books. More than 70 events to choose from.

DON’T FORGET Elvehjem Neighborhood Bonfire October 31 6:30-8:30pm at the Elvehjem Park Shelter, candy and hot chocolate for all!

Fun Facts About Elvehjem Garden

The Taste of Elvehjem is coming up Sunday September 13 11am-2pm. So, I thought I would write a blog about some Elvehjem Garden Fun Facts you may or may might not know. The purpose of our Taste Event is to celebrate the fall harvest. The main attraction at the event is the cooking contest. Gardeners create dishes from the fresh food grown in their plots and some lucky judges taste them all and will declare a winner. Recently, I met up with Chris Brockel who gave me some useful information about the garden and what has been growing all season long.

garden wide shot

Wide shot of the garden

There are 30 plots in the garden

There are 32 gardeners tending the 30 plots in the community garden, that means there are no empty plots. People come and go as they need to from all over Elvehjem Neighborhood and two individuals travel all the way from the other side Cottage Grove Road to garden. Work on the garden begins in mid April and continues until mid November when they harvest brussel sprouts, carrots and pumpkins. Chris says there’s already a waiting list for next year, keep reading until the end, I’ll let you know how you can get on the list.

Brussel Sprouts

Brussel Sprouts

“The Spring Green Plot” harvest goes to area food pantries

The plot got its name from the people who used to garden the plot and lived in the neighborhood, but have since moved to Spring Green. Now other people take care of their plot and harvest it for food banks like Goodman Food Pantry or Acewood Alliance Food Pantry. The pantries get food like kale, cabbage and peppers. Chris reports that garden fresh food is a Big Hit at the food pantry “they go crazy for it”. To date, over 250 lbs, of food has been donated from the community plot.

Haystack Gardeing

Haystack Gardeing

There’s more than one way to garden a plot

One person has planted all their food in haystacks, not dirt or compost. The method is called Straw Bale Gardening and you can see a picture of it above. The way it works is the straw bale is allowed to decompose then the gardener plants directly inside the haystacks.

Wood chips in the garden path

Wood chips in the garden path

This garden has an operating budget

The answer to your question is yes, the garden is 100% organic, no chemicals allowed in here. Which means all the food is grown with compost obtained from the Dane County Landfill. But Chris says it’s getting expensive to haul it out to the garden. Wood chips you see in the garden path like in the above picture is free from the city and delivered to the garden. There’s a water hook up and various hoses and supplies which are paid for with the fees. Fees are based on individual gardner income level.



If you want to get involved and dedicate some of your time and energy to gardening and harvesting food to enjoy or donate check out the Elvehjem Community Garden Facebook page. We’ll see YOU at the Taste of Elvehjem September 13 11am-2pm!

Famous Foxes in Popular Culture

Famous Foxes

In honor of the famous Elvehjem Neighborhood Fox, I thought I would create a list of other famous foxes in popular culture with the help of Wikipedia. In case you didn’t know, the  Elvehjem Neighborhood Facebook Group documents all sightings of the neighborhood fox. If you haven’t joined before you should join now so you don’t miss a  sighting. The other wild animals I have seen or heard around the neighborhood are wild turkeys, I heard an owl and saw bats flying over the garden.

City of Madison has some information regarding wild animals if you see an orphaned or injured animal you can do one of two things. Call the Dane County Humane Society (608) 838-0413 or the Emergency Clinic for Animals at (608) 274-7772 for further instruction.

Extra big THANK YOU to our neighbors Telise Johnsen and Cristi Carlson who shared their pictures of the fox.


“The Fox and The Grapes” from Aesop’s Fables

“The Fantastic Mr. Fox” Roald Dahl

“Fox in Sox” Dr. Seuss

Brer Fox the trickster character folklore from African American oral storytelling tradition

Telise Johnson fox picture

Telise Johnson fox picture


Disney’s “Robin Hood” 1973 Robin Hood and Maid Marian were foxes

“The Fantastic Mr. Fox” 2009

Disney’s “The Fox and the Hound” 1981

Disney’s “Chicken Little” Foxy Loxy character 2005

“Foxy Brown” 1974 starring Pam Grier

“The Desert Fox: The Story of Rommel” 1951 starring James Mason

Cristi Carlson fox picture

Cristi Carlson fox picture


“Foxy Lady” Jimi Hendrix 1967

Phox is the name of a band from Baraboo, WI

“What does the Fox say?” Ylvis 2013

“Sly Fox” Nas 2008

“The Fox” Sleater-Kinney 2005

What did I forget? hit the reply button and let me know!

Next Blog Post : Elvehjem Community Garden Coordinator, Chris Brockel.


Let’s Eat Out Food Cart Taste Test

Written By Audra Johnson from her house on Starker Avenue

I hope everyone has been enjoying the food trucks on Thursdays 5:30-7:30 p.m. Let’s Eat Out Madison on Buckeye Rd. I’ve personally tried three dishes as of now. That makes me an absolute authority on all food items all food carts have to offer (sarcasm). I do feel confident enough to share my opinions on the specific items I have tasted. So I’ll write a brief review and description of the food I tried, but I invite you to share what food cart items you would recommend to everyone as well. Hit Leave a Reply and tell us your suggestions!

1. Gili’s Panini’s – First a confession, my favorite thing in the whole world is a toasty turkey sandwich. So I ordered the Turkey Pesto Panini. It was warm, a little crunchy, melty cheesy with just enough pesto to give it a unique better-than-maynoaise taste. The best part about this panini is that it’s not messy, you could sit still or walk around and it won’t be all over your shirt.

Turkey Pesto Panini

Turkey Pesto Panini

2. Jakarta Cafe – Banana Bread Buns with Chocolate. This was a perfect dessert for my taste. I only ate one and saved the other one. It’s most similar to an empanada. The breading is like a pastry surrounding part of a cooked banana and inside the bread the banana is surrounded by chocolate. This is best served warm but not hot. You might find it difficult to stand/walk and eat but if you sit down and eat it with a fork you won’t spill it.

Stuffed Banana Bread

Stuffed Banana Bread

3. Fried & Fabulous – Here’s the Treat Yo Self or Cheat Day option. I chose the Shrimp Po Boy with Lemon Tartar Sauce and french fries. The sandwich bread was toasted just right with the right amount of sauce inside; not too much and not too little. I was happy with the taste of the shrimp, it wasn’t overwhelmed by the breading. I was expecting some flavoring on the french fries, but the only seasoning is salt. You’ll want to eat this hot, and eat it sitting down.

Shrimp Po Boy & Fries

Shrimp Po Boy & Fries