1. The “squeak” of fresh Carr Valley Cheese curds.

Happy cows come from Wisconsin, NOT California. Wisconsin produces over 600 varieties of cheese and we all have a favorite cheesemaker. Carr Valley Cheese is by far my favorite. I love their cheese curds and Eight Year Aged Cheddar!

2. Drinking New Glarus’ Spotted Cow whenever I want.

New Glarus’ Spotted Cow can not be sold legally outside of Wisconsin (as a tavern in Minnesota found out) which makes it extra remarkable. Nothing makes me more homesick than when I am craving “a Cow” and I know I will have to wait until my next visit to get my hands on one.

3. MA-waukee, not MIL-waukee.

I’m sorry, I can’t hear you over Summerfest.

4. Having your Bloody Mary with a chaser.

In Heaven, a Bloody Mary is served with a small glass of beer. Sorry, rest of America, a Bloody just doesn’t feel complete without a swig of beer to finish up those last spicy dregs of tomato juice.

5. Trips “Up North.”

“Up North” refers to a cabin in northern Wisconsin near a body of water, a bait shop, a general store and a dive bar that serves a damn good fish fry. I don’t remember much of what I learned in junior high but I do remember fishing, blackberry picking and racing to the outhouse in the middle of the night.

6. Friday Fish Fry.

Fridays mean fish. Every Friday night, “supper clubs” fill up with Sconnies looking for a couple pieces of broiled or deep-fried fish, a potato, coleslaw, a bread roll and chances are, a Brandy Old Fashioned (that’s right, not Whiskey).

7. Going to Amish Auctions.

One of my favorite memories growing up was going to Amish Auctions with my Mom and Grandma. Giant pole barns with cars and horse-drawn buggies parked side by side full of people bidding on gorgeous hand-made quilts and furniture that lasts generations. And the hot, sugary, homemade donuts dunked in coffee with the freshest cream you’ve ever tasted.

8. Three words: Go Pack Go.

Vince Lombardi once said, “God, Family and the Green Bay Packers. In that order…” In Wisconsin, Packer gear qualifies as Sunday best. Imagine a state filled with green and gold, kitchens fully stocked with cheese-laden snacks and conversations about the greatest football coach ever, the Frozen Tundra and how “the Bears still suck.”

9. Motorcycle Riding in the Driftless Area

Sconnies are on their bikes as soon as the spring temperatures hit 45 degrees. Of all the places to cruise in the state, the Driftless area in southwestern Wisconsin is the best ride. As you weave in and out of the Kickapoo Valley, the temperature goes from warm to cool with each turn, you smell the lush greenery and can’t help but appreciate the farms dotting the landscape. Let’s go for a ride.

10. Exploring downtown Madison.

State Street, Memorial Union, Camp Randall and Freakfest. Need I say more?

11. The time of year between snow and more snow.

Days spent out on the lake, tailgating at Miller Park, eating your way through the thousands of festivals across the state paired with chilly nights sitting around a bonfire in jeans and a hoodie. We only put up with Wisconsin winters because the summers are so damn worth it.

12. The glory that is Culver’s.

Leaving Wisconsin means losing regular access to Butterburgers, deep-fried cheese curds and custard. Every mile outside the state line takes me further away from my beloved Mushroom & Swiss Butterburger. I promise to be good, please don’t make me go!

13. Eating brats on every occasion.

Bratwursts are such a staple of Wisconsin culture that you can find them anywhere, any time of year. Of course, you’ll see them tailgating but why not stop over at a brat fry and donate to the local Kiwanis Club? My Grandmother even makes them at Christmas!