Growing up in Nekoosa, Wisconsin is something that I would never change. Living in a town with a population of 2000 is something that not everyone experiences, but I am glad that I did. The Nekoosa Papermakers are a mascot most people will never understand, and, while I may not be able to stand the smell of manure, I have no problem with the rancid smell of the mill. A close-knit, small-town community smack dab in the Middle of Nowhere, Wisconsin may not be the first choice for some to raise a family in, but, let me tell you, it is the place I will always call home. Every Friday night of fall is spent traveling near and far to support our football team, whether it's a good season or a bad. The experiences you have in a small town are unreal. Here are some things Nekoosians know all too well:
1. Pumpkin Fest
The Giant Pumpkin Drop
The Giant Pumpkin Fest is held the first weekend of October each year. While its location may have changed, (and then changed again...and again), we still know it to be the same great event it always has been. From cool crafts, to volunteer opportunities, to the best food out there, you would be lying if you said you weren't pumped to go. Cheese curds, walking tacos, brats, cinnamon roasted pecans, cheesecake on a stick...okay, my mouth is watering. But, you can never forget the point of Pumpkin Fest: the 1,000 pound pumpkins and the magnificent giant pumpkin drop! And, there's always the competition to see who can carve the coolest pumpkin or who can kayak down the Wisco River.
2. Rome, WI
Rome: not home to the Trevi Fountain or the Colosseum, but, rather, the place of golf courses and summer employment opportunities for high school and college kids returning to our quaint, little town. It's the place where rich Illinois families come to drive like maniacs and spend oodles of money on golfing and cabins on the lake. To us Nekoosians, Rome is an entirely different place. But, it truly is Nekoosa, no matter how hard we differentiate. Your friends may live in Rome, but, if you want to send them some mail, the address still says Nekoosa.
3. The Mill Smell
Wisconsin Rapids City Times
Out-of-town friend in your car as you drive down Market Street: "Ewwwww, what is that smell?"
You: "Wait, what smell? Oh, that's just the paper mill."
Some days are good, some days are bad. Everyone in town knows at least one person who works at the mill or did at one point. And, if you really want some key bits of information, check out that Domtar sign to see what's new while you wait for three train cars to take their sweet time getting into the wood chip yard.
4. The Pool
A Dollar General was placed atop the unmarked grave of the former Nekoosa City Pool.
Wisconsin Rapids Tribune
Rest in Peace city pool. This thing was out of commission before I even turned old enough to ride my bike down the street and go swimming. However, I have fond memories of freezing for 8 a.m. swim lessons and dreams of going down the waterslide. Now, all we have to show for its complete and utter destruction is the Dollar General and the newest edition of retired living spaces, which look extremely nice. But, no worries, the Splashpad is on its way--it's no city pool, but at least it's something.
5. Beavers Dime Store
Beaver's Dime Store is the place for all your candy and crafting needs. It's the best place to get giant bags of Frooties or raffle tickets for Prom Committee. I'm sure before my time, it was quite the place to be. If I ever need yarn to make bracelets, I know exactly where to go. I have a fond memory of riding back to my house in the car after we stopped at Beavers and grabbed a miniature pool for my little brother, cousins and me. It may have only been three feet long and about a foot deep, but it was a pool nonetheless.
6. The Blue Water Tower
Rest in Peace, once again. The Blue Water tower coming down was a historic moment for us all. For the longest time, the empty lot seemed so vacant. Who knew replacing it with the white one in the "Business Park" would be such a wounding experience for everyone? Blue Water Tower, you are very missed.
7. Peter Papermaker
Anyone who didn't grow up in Nekoosa is thoroughly confused after reading this listicle item. Peter Papermaker, was our beloved mascot, who, up until January 2016, was scarier than all sin. Falling apart and mangled, Petey got his revamp. Some people like to comment on how it's not a very scary or intimidating mascot, but, really, have they ever lifted a roll of paper off the press? Didn't think so. Try again.