Journeys of Discovery: exploring culturally dynamic villages along Wisconsin's Great River Road

Sep 7, 2018

Correspondent Tom Wilmer visits with locals about life in Wisconsin’s historic villages dotting the Great River Road, a network of state and local byways following the route of the mighty Mississippi for over 2,000 miles.

The village of Stockholm, with a permanent population of 66 people, typifies the riverfront towns. Stockholm’s population burgeons during the summertime with tourists and seasonal residents. 

Each July, more than 10,000 visitors show up for the annual Stockholm Art Fair. During the spring and fall, thousands of birders flock to the River Road communities to experience North America’s largest annual bird migration.

"Urban-immigrant" artists and culinary wizards have settled in the villages in recent decades, many leaving behind lucrative big-city professional careers—infusing the communities with a palpable creative energy.

Stops along the Great River Road journey include a conversation with Kristen Smith-Proctor, a year-round resident of Stockholm, who lives in a century-old brick schoolhouse.

Alan Nugent, owner of the Stockholm Bakery, has received rave praise for his homemade pies from USA Today and Gourmet Magazine.

Scott Wolf talks about the annual Flyway Film Festival in Pepin, and the town’s communal passion for the arts, live theater, and the culinary arts.

Lisa Marshall, communications manager with the Wisconsin Department of Tourism, shares recommendations about experiencing Wisconsin’s legendary fall foliage and wintertime activity.

You are invited to subscribe to the Lowell Thomas Award-winning travel show podcast, Journeys of Discovery with Tom Wilmer,  featured on the NPR Podcast DirectoryApple Podcast, the NPR One App & Stitcher.com. Twitter: TomCWilmer. Instagram: Thomas.Wilmer. Member of the National Press Club in Washington D.C.