Friday, October 20, 2017


Parked cars stretched for miles around the little hamlet of Paoli, Wisconsin. It was Fall Festival time and much of Madison and the surrounding bedroom communities had come to partake in the art, music and booze on a beautiful fall day in Wisconsin.
Paoli is a small spit of a town that has turned itself into an artisan's enclave due a lot to its beautiful indigenous architecture.
The landscape of the hamlet is pretty impressive as well with the Sugar River running through it making for one inviting bucolic setting.
For such a small town there is more to do than one would expect from a town whose Main Street is a mere two blocks long. Once I walked the almost mile from where I had to park my car I headed to my favorite spot in Paoli, the Cottage Goddess, a shop specializing in vintage finds
There were definitely objects of desire to be found from needlepoint pillows and canopy chairs
to Lori's specialty vintage clothing. It's been our secret go to for gifts for our mangy gypsy daughter and her passion for denim jackets, Hermes scarves and cowboy boots
But vintage wasn't what Lori was pushing for the fall festival. She was pushing booze. I got there too late to try one of the twenty-four dozen liquor infused cupcakes she had baked the previous evening
But I was able to peruse her small batch Scotch Whiskies
and her "Pajama Party" dessert wines perfectly displayed with a pair of mules and a bed jacket to match the occasion
Just outside the Cottage Goddess a huge table was set up with charms and chains where you could sit and make your own bracelet or necklace. It was a way to either quell the enthusiasm of the young or put together an accessory for later that night.
Food was being served throughout the village but my favorite place to catch a bite is the Paoli Bread and Brat Haus. Unfortunately, on Fall Festival Day the line to get in and the time you'd wait to get served was way too long for me. My recommendation is to go back on a normal weekend where the owner is known to give out refills of ice cream in your empty cone if one scoop doesn't do the trick
As many cars as lined the streets of Paoli there were at least four times the amount of bikes parked and stacked throughout the town. Warm weather biking is a major pull on the rolling hills that undulate over the area surrounding Madison, perfect terrain for avid bikers.
That's why it was no surprise to me that a custom bike shop would find a home in Paoli.
I.O.A.K. is a not only an eye opener for bikers but it's a visual treat for anyone who appreciates design
One of the older buildings in Paoli is what started out in 1854 as a one-room schoolhouse and is now a combination restaurant and gift shop.
Like all of the other venues food wasn't going to happen at the Schoolhouse without a wait that would have wasted the better part of the remaining day. What I could do was to touch and coo over everything I saw that I wanted to take home with me from their collection of antiques and home goods.
Across the street from the Paoli Schoolhouse is one of several galleries now open in Paoli, the Abel Contemporary Gallery. The building is a former creamery lined with glazed tile and a refrigeration room, the perfect space for Marlene Miller's exhibit of ceramic busts titled "Blood and Iron".
Wisconsin has always possessed a quirky side so it shouldn't appear too unusual that one of Paoli's biggest shopping attractions is a place called Cluck, a store dedicated to everything concerning chickens.
You can find everything from a chicken shaped casserole dish to a fancy backyard hen house officially approved for suburban use.
Out front of Cluck was a wheelbarrow filled with Osage Oranges. They were the only purchase I made that day but not for want of the many other things that had caught my eye but not my wallet.
I've mixed the oranges with a bunch of yellow and green gourds avoiding the obvious traditional orange color that normally accompanies the season.
With my bag of Osage Oranges in hand I waited for Paoli's idea of taxi service, a horse drawn wagon, to pass by and let me cross the street for my mile long journey back to my car and back to the twenty-first century and home. As crowded as the town was it was still worth the time spent.
Textiles, 2010
Christopher Payne, photographer
Represented by Benrubi Gallery

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