Day Trip: Ripon
History, music and more in a close-knit college community
Your tour guide: Missy Nygaard, Green Lake Festival of Music
I am one of Ripon College's students who didn't leave this wonderful community after graduation. Ripon is one of those communities that makes you feel welcome right away--even if you haven't lived here 25 years. I love living in Ripon and invite you to come visit.
Ripon has one of the prettiest historic downtowns in the state and two residential historical districts. It has a wealth of "Victorian painted ladies," Greek revival and Italianate homes to view as you walk or drive by. Relax with a visit to the Saturday Farmers Market, shop downtown stores, stroll through a residential historic district or bicycle the rolling hills within the city and the ancient glacial gorges west and south of Ripon.
Ripon began in 1844 as Ceresco, an agricultural commune, or Phalanx, which functioned as an experiment in what would become socialism. One of the long houses in which the commune resided still exists, at the foot of a ridge, west of town. Call the Ripon Historical Society at 920-748-5354 for more information.
Human rights are an important theme running throughout Ripon's past. Homes in the area were part of the Underground Railroad. The fact that Ripon is acknowledged as the "Birthplace of the Republican Party" is due to area residents and leaders who met at the Little White Schoolhouse in 1854. The activists organized to create a "party of the people," one that was anti-slavery and acted on behalf of the workingman. These attitudes gave rise to the Republican Party at the Schoolhouse on March 21, 1854. The Little White Schoolhouse is open most days in the summer and also by appointment.
Ripon College, a private liberal arts school, has flourished in this small community since 1851. The college offers the community a great deal of events. From its own art gallery to theater productions by award-winning faculty and an intimate concert hall, the public is warmly invited. Its music department presents a chamber music series that brings international stars. There is often a reception afterwards where the audience members can chat with the artists.
For those who desire a more casual, personal, up-close musical experience outside of the school year,the Green Lake Festival of Music presents high quality professional music concerts in both Green Lake and Ripon each June and July. The Festival recently hit its 30th anniversary of presenting classical, jazz, international and vocal music. In addition, the Festival also offers a chamber music camp for high school and college students giving them the opportunity to expand and improve their strings and piano skills. Amateur and professional adult and high school singers come together in the choral institute to learn and enjoy music in a supportive atmosphere. A free family concert series and master classes are open to the public. Ripon and the surrounding area benefit from the Festival's use of Ripon College for these nationally-attended camps and institutes as they offer free public performances. The music has been incredible.
Come and enjoy Ripon!