The Wisconsin Halls of Fame

I spent Memorial Day Weekend in Chamberlain, South Dakota, a lovely Missouri River town in the south central portion of the state. If you’re traveling by car from Wisconsin, Chamberlain is down Interstate 90 a patch from the South Dakota Corn Palace in Mitchell, but a few hours shy of the Badlands, the Black Hills, a free glass of ice water at Wall Drug and that well-publicized tourist mecca, Mt. Rushmore.

One thing few people know about Chamberlain (South Dakotans included, I would venture to say) is that it’s home to the South Dakota Hall of Fame. Tom Daschle, Tom Brokaw and Mary Hart are in the Hall, as are Sitting Bull, Lawrence Welk and Laura Ingalls Wilder.  Not surprisingly, there are even categories hailing the state’s finest “Professional Cowboys” and its “Unsung Heroes and Good Hearts.” Each year, one South Dakota artist and one writer receives special commendation, too.

During the long car trip back to Madison on Monday, my traveling companions and I wondered why our adopted home state has no such entity. After all, Wisconsin has no shortage of creative thinkers who have led important lives–in politics, the arts, conservation, athletics, academics.  We have our unsung heroes and good hearts here, too–I know a few of them myself. And while I’m strapped to come up with a Badger State cowboy of note, I’m hoping blog readers will prove me wrong.  Who is Wisconsin’s Casey Tibbs?  And who are Wisconsin’s heroes of the past and present? Let us know whom you would induct into my imaginary Wisconsin Hall of Fame.

Finally, even though we don’t have a central Wisconsin Hall of Fame, we do in fact have many specialized Halls of Fame. Thanks to Michael Goc’s recent post, Comfort in a Centennial, I had already learned about the Wisconsin Aviation Hall of Fame. Here are a few more I found online:

Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame and Museum

Snowmobile Hall of Fame

Wisconsin Athletic Hall of Fame

Wisconsin Conservation Hall of Fame

Wisconsin Hockey Hall of Fame

Wisconsin Library Hall of Fame

Wisconsin Polka Hall of Fame

–Tammy Kempfert

5 Responses to The Wisconsin Halls of Fame

  1. Ron says:

    Excellent post. I will have to nominate Electa Quinney who was Wisconsin’s first public school teacher. Ms. Quinney was a Stockbridge Indian who taught both native and white students in Kaukauna back in the 1820’s.
    Also, I would have to nominate the honorable Gaylord Nelson. Not only did he found Earth Day, but he served the state as a U.S. Senator and Governor. In 1959, Governor Nelson signed into law a bill establishing collective bargaining rights for public employees making Wisconsin the first state in the country to establish such a law.

  2. KirkSD says:

    On behalf of South Dakota Tourism, thanks for visiting our state and the South Dakota Hall of Fame. We hope you’ll visit us again soon.

    South Dakota Tourism.

  3. Marie Sprinter says:

    I very much enjoyed the post. Good for South Dakotans to add unsung heroes and good hearts to their Hall of Fame. After all, those are the people that keep our communities connected and hold the promise for a better future.
    I will check back to see if Wisconsin has any famous cowboys!

  4. Ron says:

    Here’s Wisconin’s Casey Tibbs:
    Hillsboro’s Schumacher rides to the top of the rodeo world

  5. ( is the website for the DeForest, Wis., weekly newspaper. I have a blog on it called RuleNo1.)

    I wish to suggest a link to the Hall of Heroes at the Veterans Hospital in Madison.

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