Dane County Kicks Off Celebration of 175th Anniversary

January 10, 2011
Joshua Wescott, Office of the County Executive (608) 267-8823 or cell (608) 669-5606
County Executive

Series of Events Planned for Families to Join Year Long Birthday Bash


With a fireplace and scenic views of Dane County behind them, County Executive Kathleen Falk along with elected officials, both past and present, joined dozens of citizens today to kick-off a year-long celebration of Dane County’s 175th anniversary.  Falk and the county’s 175th anniversary planning committee announced a series of fun events and opportunities for those of all ages to celebrate and look back on the county’s 175 year history.


“We want everyone - - whether young or old or from town, village, or city - - to come and join the party,” Falk said.  “Over the course of the next 12 months, we’ll look back at our rich history, ahead to our exciting future, celebrate our diverse culture, and commemorate the countless people, places, and things that make our county so great.”


“Our county has grown and changed a lot over the past 175 years and this celebration is the perfect opportunity to showcase our history, accomplishments, natural resources, and diversity,” County Board Scott McDonell said.


Over the course of the past six months, a 175th anniversary planning committee appointed by Falk and McDonell has worked hard on mapping out a series of ways for citizens to celebrate in 2011.


A new website:  www.danecounty175.org has a full rundown of events through the year that will help mark the 175th


Included in those events is the “Dane County Passport Project” that showcases 12 natural features of Dane County.  People are invited to use their “passport” and visit all 12 sites through the course of the year and answer trivia questions at each location.  They can then submit their completed passports for a chance to win prizes. 


Falk also announced a series of four days in which people will be encouraged to take photographs depicting life in Dane County and then post them to the Dane County 175th Celebration Flickr website for a community photo album.  The first of the four “Days in Dane” will occur on February 25th.  Pictures taken and uploaded to the site by the public will be reviewed by the Dane County Cultural Affairs Commission for consideration for the annual Cultural Affairs art poster.


A traveling exhibit was also introduced at Monday’s press conference that details Dane County’s rich heritage and culture and various historical milestones over the past 175 years.  That exhibit will change through the year and be on display at the Dane County Regional Airport later this month and other locations countywide over the next 12 months.


Popular community events like the Dane County Dairy Breakfast, the Dane County Fair, and Take a Stake in the Lakes will also have a special “175th Anniversary” theme in 2011. 


In addition, Sutter’s Ridge Farm has agreed to plant a corn maze commemorating Dane County’s 175th that will be available for family fun this fall and the University of Wisconsin Marching Band will feature Dane County in one of its halftime performances during the next football season.


“We have a big party planned because there’s a lot to celebrate when you’re the fastest growing county in the state with a thriving urban area that’s surrounded by over 400 dairy farms and gorgeous natural resources,” Falk said.


Some facts and figures about Dane County’s history:


*The United States Government took possession of area now known as Dane County from the Indians after the Blackhawk War. 


*Dane County has been a county longer than Wisconsin has been a state.  The first Wisconsin territorial legislature met in 1836 and created Dane County.  Wisconsin became a state in 1848.


*The county’s first governmental unit - - a three man board of commissioners to formulate county policy - - was elected in 1839. 


*The county’s population in 1840 consisted of 314 settlers.  Today that figure is closer to a half-million. 


*The county is named for Nathan Dane, the Massachusetts man who chaired the committee that crafted the ordinance of 1787 which detailed how the Northwest Territory would be governed.