Wauwatosa East and West Student News

The Tosa Compass

Wauwatosa East and West Student News

The Tosa Compass

Wauwatosa East and West Student News

The Tosa Compass

Flying Under the Radar

Cream puffs? Corn dogs? Deep-fried bacon on a stick? How about a hilarious lesson on power and saving the peregrine falcon?

Don’t knock it too quickly, the last option is probably the best.

When one thinks about the Wisconsin State Fair, the first thing that comes to mind probably isn’t WE Energies.

Ironically, the WE Energies pavilion is one of the most action-filled locations at the State Fair. Each day is packed with presentations and activities designed to educate the audience as well as give them a good time. There are a number of large-scale presentations which are put on by staff about electrical safety and birds of prey, and each day at 2:30 PM there is an opportunity for children around the pavilion to race small, solar-powered cars.

Peter Reeves, who acts as a host for presentations such as the “Power Play Pandemonium” as well as the solar races said that they are “steeped in fun for the audience; however, the information needs to get across about natural gas and electric safety.”

“The solar races are now about ten years old,” he said.

The WE Energies solar races have become a tradition at the WE Energies pavilion.

The cars themselves aren’t a huge deal, but they certainly aren’t anything to laugh at. “We hit the fastest time ever yesterday…1.3 seconds. It literally shot out like a cannon. I’ve never seen anything like it.”

The cars are small plastic models which have changed much over the years.

WE Energies gets them through a mail order system they have with other companies.

“It teaches a little bit about the benefits of solar power,” said Peter, “however, there are severe limitations.” A cloudy day can put an end to any solar-powered affair.

The WE Energies pavilion isn’t just about power, however.

A number of presentations during the day are about birds of prey. The Audubon Nature Center has a booth at the pavilion, and regularly gives presentations about their birds.

Sally Smaida, who works for Audubon, said that WE Energies sponsors a conservation effort to save peregrine falcons.

“The falcons nest on power poles,” she said. “We’re working on repopulating the falcons. So far it’s been a very successful effort.”

16 chicks have been saved in Milwaukee alone, and 97 statewide. 32 nests have also been preserved, according to a worker at the booth.

“At Audubon Nature Center we use them as educational birds,” she said, “it really helps protect them.”

In addition to the birds and the power, WE Energies also helps to raise awareness about the environment in general. The pavilion contains a large and blooming garden, with each plant labeled in order to educate visitors. Certain plants are very well-suited to growing in low and thus frequently wet places, for example.

So, while the WE Energies pavilion at the Wisconsin State Fair may not have cream puffs or deep-fried foods on sticks, it is certainly a destination worthy of seeing. The pavilion is chock-full of friendly staff who are plenty eager to teach the average fair goer a lesson and a half.

Author: Rick Sear

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