Last Days in Madison

August 3 – 5

Friday is always the day of the Board of Directors meeting (which I am invited to attend) and the members-only auction at the NABA Convention, so I was on duty in the AM. I took a bunch of photos of the auction items, and then of the action at the beginning. I rarely stay to see the end of it. But my understanding is that this year’s was a great event, and made NABA (which takes a percentage of sales) more $ than the auction had gleaned the club for 20 years. So that was great news.

Events began again fairly early in the evening, so Jack and I returned for the tasting and dinner, and among the highlights for me was meeting for the first time, one of my contributors with whom I’ve worked for 12 years. He’s a great guy and he won a new award that has been created by the group in memory of another of the great contributors to the magazine, who died during the past year. Rich was the first recipient, and so very deserving of the honor. He’s been the absolute best writer for me to work with.


Saturday is always the NABA public trade show, so I was on hand at 9AM when it opened, to take photos. Again, reports have it that this Convention Trade Show was among the best the members have experienced. So overall, it was a very successful event of the group I work for, creating their quarterly magazine.

A Floyd friend had recommended that we go to Baraboo, Wisconsin, where we’d find the Circus museum, as well as the International Crane Foundation where all 15 of the world’s cranes are housed and nurtured. It’s a great thing that we actually went this year, because they’re going to begin an enormous renovation project that will close the facilities for a year, starting this fall.

The Circus Museum wasn’t quite my cup of tea, although the period marketing artwork (lithographs, posters, advertisements) was definitely interesting.

And I always like to see the tigers and they had some ponies, too.

But overall the place was kind of seedy, which is what I think of when I think “circus,” with all the caged animals and “freak” show individuals. So that part was appropriate, anyway.

The history, however, was fascinating, with lots and lots of period photographs.

And you might ask, as we did, “Why Baraboo?” Well there are several explanations.

Another interesting thing about the place is the restoration work that goes on. On the day we visited, the craftsmen were working on a wagon shaped to look like the old woman who lived in a shoe (with all the youngsters crawling and hanging on the outside) and a carousel horse. I didn’t get pix of those as they were behind glass and the glare was terrible. But these represent that kind of work.

I was glad to get to the Crane preserve, and we happened to visit during their Crane Days Festival, so there were special guided tours and many activities for children. As you might guess, bird freak that I am, I took tons and tons of photos of cranes. Unfortunately, most are behind chain-link fencing and/or are nesting. So it was difficult to photograph with my type of camera. But I got a few pretty good images.

I won’t bore you with all that I took here, nor with the details about the cranes from all over the world, in varying stages of their being threatened or endangered. The highly rare whooping cranes are a special treat to see, as there is no fencing between you and them.

I urge you to look up the Foundation at It’s a wonderful place, and I am thankful that I took our friends’ recommendation and went there (about an hour northwest of Madison). They have been especially helpful about keeping the Whooping Cranes from extinction, but of course they work on behalf of all the cranes of the world as well. It’s a very cool place, and I hope to return in 2020, after their renovations and expansions.

After the Convention’s closing Saturday night meal and raffle, we packed up for departure Sunday and headed down to Kickapoo State Park in Illinois.