The Village of Elkhart Lake in east central Wisconsin has a style all its own. There’s the road racing history dating back to the 1950s, plus the lake resorts and restaurants that serve both race car drivers from nearby Road America and the tourists who flock to the area in the summer months to cool off and kick back just as they’ve been doing for nearly 150 years when they first arrived by train. So this year when the local visitor bureau started compiling a list of all the new items for summer 2016, it was perfectly logical that the list would be a potpourri of car racing, a resort centennial, an old-fashioned ice cream parlor, even the restoration of an iconic train caboose. Throw in the addition of more modern pursuits like foot golf and disc golf, and you have the makings of a wonderful summer vacation option in Elkhart Lake. For a look at all the community has to offer, log on to the official visitor website, www.ElkhartLake.com.
In some new news of its own, the visitor bureau has launched a social-first video series profiling this hidden gem, complete with insider tips from the locals. Video topics cover outdoor recreation, the culinary scene, and an overview of the vacation experience and village vibe for first-time visitors. The videos are online at www.youtube.com/user/elkhartlake/featured.
Siebkens Resort Turns 100
The fourth generation of the family-owned, turn-of-the-century Siebkens Resort on Elkhart Lake is busying itself with big centennial celebration plans. Run today by sisters Laurie Stecker and Lisa Sadiq, the resort has announced a “100 Days for 100 Years” calendar that kicks off May 27 with a happy hour and complimentary appetizers and wraps up on September 4 with a birthday celebration for Laurie. Live music and themed dinners dot all the calendar dates in between. Siebkens offers condominium-style lodging, added in 2008, plus historic guest rooms in two original Siebkens hotel buildings, The Elm Park and The Lake Cottage. Visitors also enjoy the resort’s two restaurants, ice cream shop, outdoor pool, and celebrated Stop-Inn Tavern, a long-time favorite watering hole for race car drivers and fans from Road America. For reservations, log on to www.Siebkens.com or call 920.876.2600.
Lots of News from Road America
The fan experience at the legendary Road America race track is being revved up a few RPMs with construction of a new winner’s circle and a new visitors’ center where race fans can learn about the history of the track. Both are located inside the paddock. A new apparel and souvenir store, The Paddock Shop, located along the midway, is also opening this spring. Inside, fans will find branded apparel, a dedicated pro shop with race gear, automotive supplies for pit crews in a pinch, and dream garage-themed décor and autographed artwork. Shoppers should be sure to check out the IndyCar cockpit, the huge track outline suspended from the ceiling, and interactive fan kiosk. Plus work is wrapping up on a new main gate with impressive curb appeal. These improvements blend seamlessly with the traditional architecture of this four-mile, 14-turn road circuit track, founded in 1955 as the first permanent road racing course in the United States when racing on open roads in Elkhart Lake was deemed too risky by lawmakers. The late Paul Newman was a regular at this track, as is actor Patrick Dempsey. Also new for 2016, any fans 16 years and under get in free with a paying adult. To purchase tickets or learn more about upcoming events at Road America, visit www.RoadAmerica.com or call 800.365.RACE (7223). (photo credit Les Tension Photography)
In event news: Indy racing returns to Road America for the first time since 2007, with the Verizon IndyCar Series set for June 23-26. The very first IndyCar race at Road America took place in 1982. Mario Andretti, Michael Andretti and Emerson Fittipaldi each won three times here.
Race Car News Off the Track
Now for auto news off the track, with construction well underway on Motorsport Villas of Elkhart Lake, a “car condominium” project close to Road America and Quit Qui Oc Golf Course catering to collectors of fine automobiles and those who race their cars at the track. This private multi-family residential development will have 32 units when completed, with half of those constructed in 2016 and the others to be completed over the course of the new few year. One-third of the units are already sold. The villas will sport custom-built living spaces and room for up to seven cars. Owners may live full- or part-time in the community. No surprise the developers are motorsports enthusiasts themselves. For more, visit www.MotorsportVillas.com.
Nine Decades Old Ice Cream Parlor Back in Business
This will be the first full season for the re-opened Gessert’s Ice Cream and Confectionery, a sweet treat landmark with a history that stretches back to 1922. The Gessert family ran this ice cream parlor continuously until 2012, when they closed. New owners, husband and wife duo Ryan and Michelle Moeller, are breathing new life into the shop, having refurbished the building to resemble the shop as it once was in the late 1920s, including preserving all the original woodwork. The most difficult decision for visitors may be choosing from two dozen flavors of ice cream and old-fashioned fountain soda drinks on one side and an entire wall of glass cases filled with candy on the opposite side. Check their Facebook page for seasonal hours which begin in May.
Historic Caboose Gets a Restoration
The Soo Line red caboose #247, circa 1906 and permanently parked outside the village’s historic train depot and museum since 1973, is getting a spruce up. This vintage rail car hearkens back to a time when visitors from parts south arrived by train for their summer holiday in the village. A complete restoration inside and out will be completed by the end of summer. Stay tuned for more news on tours once the work wraps up.
Try Your Hand, Make That Hand and Feet, at Foot Golf and Disc Golf Courses
Foot golf, best described as a cross between soccer and golf, is coming to the Elkhart Lake area, as is disc golf. These two new courses, available to visitors and residents, are being developed at Sheboygan Marsh Park, two miles north of the village on County Highway J. The park also offers campsites, a picnic area, fishing and canoe rentals plus a full-service restaurant. Not to be missed – the view of the 13,000-acre Wildlife Area from the vantage point of the new 80-foot observation tower, the tallest in the state. Visit www.elkhartlake.come/things-to-do/broughton-sheboygan-county-marsh.
About Elkhart Lake
Elkhart Lake, Wis. is a resort village of just under 1,000 permanent residents, with the crown jewel of this destination the pristine lake of the same name. The community has been welcoming visitors since the first hotel was built in 1867. Weary urban dwellers traveled by train from Chicago and St. Louis to escape the hustle and heat of the city and returned year after year. By the start of the 20th century, six resorts rimmed the lake. Today the community remains an enchanting getaway for visitors from all over the Midwest thanks to its charming white clapboard resorts and lake activities, with added modern touches including foodie-worthy restaurants, destination spa, and boutiques and galleries. To plan your vacation, start at www.ElkhartLake.com.