Baraboo ‘Discover Wisconsin’ episode debuts Monday

April 4, 2019

Before it stars on regional television, Baraboo will take to the big screen.

An episode of “Discover Wisconsin” about Circus City will premiere Monday evening at the Al. Ringling Theatre. The episode features local history, attractions and parks, with hosts Collin Geraghty and Mariah Haberman interviewing Baraboo personalities.

Haberman said narrowing down footage from the crew’s visits to Baraboo — including shots of the Big Top Parade, which she helped judge — into a 19-minute episode was challenging.

“That’s the hardest part,” she said.

The community’s unique charms made highlighting the community easy.

“This is one of my favorites, hands down,” Haberman said. “It’s a very beautiful show.”

Baraboo Chamber and Tourism joined forces with the city of Baraboo, village of West Baraboo and the Downtown Baraboo Inc. business group to bring “Discover Wisconsin” to town. Their $40,000 investment paid for an episode that will air in eight Midwestern states April 20. It also is available on YouTube and various streaming services.

Haberman, who called the Al. Ringling the state’s finest theater, said she’s looking forward to attending Monday’s premiere. The event will feature a VIP pre-party, speakers and a screening of the episode.

“We have a great venue, and I hope we have a nice turnout,” she said.

During the episode, Geraghty takes a kayak ride along the Baraboo River, gets his hair cut at Baraboo Social Club and visits Gem City Saloon and Driftless Glen Distillery. Meanwhile, Haberman explores downtown Baraboo with local business leader Nicki Green and rickshaw tour guide Shelley Mordini.

Haberman later visits Devil’s Lake State Park and the Devil’s Lake Lavender farm while her co-host checks out Ski-Hi Fruit Farm and the Ochsner Park Zoo.

When chamber representatives appeared before the West Baraboo Village Board last month, Village President David Dahlke said he was dismayed the village wasn’t showcased more prominently in the episode.

“I will say that it is very well put together. It’s a very nice piece. However, for the money that the village outlaid, we have less than 5 seconds,” he said. “So I feel very disappointed.”

The Haskins Park boat launch, which Dahlke described as “the cornerstone” that prompted area municipalities to start similar projects, isn’t pictured in the episode. It’s one of the few West Baraboo spots he wanted to make sure was featured.

“Our showcase piece of the river — of which everything is emulated from — goose egg. So I would give you an F,” Dahlke said to Bobbie Coons, the outgoing chamber director.

Floodwaters significantly damaged the boat launch in May, delaying the show crew’s filming until October. Still, Dahlke suggested they had more opportunities to get footage.

He also took issue with what he characterized as a lack of communication from the chamber about the filming schedule. Coons said Mark Horenberger, chairman of the village tourism commission, was involved in the development process and signed off on the episode script, but Dahlke said she should have followed up with the board. A “Discover Wisconsin” representative offered to add material to the episode at no cost to the village, Dahlke said.

He acknowledged that the village will still benefit economically from the episode because visitors will stay in West Baraboo hotels. “Baraboo — Adventure Awaits” will reach “Discover Wisconsin’s” upper Great Lakes region broadcast network. It’ll air twice locally Saturday, at 10 a.m. on the cable network Fox Sports Wisconsin and at 6:30 p.m. on WKOW-TV/Ch. 27.

“It’s definitely a more far-reaching show than people realize,” Haberman said.

“Discover Wisconsin” films about 20 episodes each year. Haberman noted Baraboo will be mentioned in upcoming episodes about the Aldo Leopold Foundation and Wisconsin Dells.

While the episode is designed to introduce potential visitors to Baraboo, Haberman said it contains tidbits that will intrigue locals, too.

“We try to surprise even people who have lived there a very long time,” she said.