A Brief History of Tigerton Main Street, Inc.
In 1993, Tigerton’s bid to become a Wisconsin Main Street Community was accepted. Governor Tommy Thompson paid a visit to Tigerton in January of 1994 to welcome our community into the program. He gave a very wonderful speech to a large crowd at our old tiny high school gym, encouraging us to work hard so that we could fulfill our dreams of making our community a better place. Most people left our the gym that day with a feeling that we could make a difference in our community, as well as being honored by the presence of our governor here in OUR community.
A lot has changed in Tigerton since that day when the governor paid us a visit. Tigerton Main Street, Inc., continues to work hard to achieve our goals of making Tigerton a better place. There have been a lot of changes that have occurred in this small town over the years, many of them positive and some not so positive. Overall, we continue looking forward with a positive attitude, knowing that if we continue to work hard and together, we can and will make Tigerton a better commUNITY!
In 1994, Kelly Collins was named our first Main Street Manager. Peggy Miller was the Main Street President. The TIMBR (Tigerton’s Incredible Mountain Bike Race) was run for the first time. The annual Village Cleanup began in the spring of 1994. That still continues every year.
In 1995, Randy Berndt became our second Main Street Manager and Peggy Miller continued to serve as president. The Tigerton News and Views Newsletter was started, as well as Friday Night Cash Night, Saturday morning Farmers’ Market, and the Friday evening summer “Hot Summer Nights” musical entertainment at the Gazebo Park. All of these programs continued for several year, with the exception of the postponement“ of Hot Summer Nights” in 2007 due to road construction in our downtown area.
Brian Derus was named Main Street Manager in 1996. Peggy Miller continued to serve as Main Street President.
Barb Spiegel was named president for 1997, and later in that year, Ken Sambs became Main Street president.
The Adopt-A-Street Light program was started in 1998 and the fund raising campaign for the project began. Eighteen new decorative streetlights were installed in the spring of 1999. Virginia Kauffman became Main Street Manager and Russ Kostrzak was named president. The historical column “Another Piece of Tigerton History”, written by Russ Kostrzak, was started. Main Street also held a street dance featuring “Elvis” and Arly Bork to dedicate the new streetlights.
The year 2000 brought the Main Street “Spirit” award to Tigerton. The fundraising was completed and the Veterans’ Park Veterans’ Memorial was built. Six more new streetlights were installed along Cedar (Main) Street.
The kiosk at the Embarrass River Travel Center was completed in early 2001. The Veterans’ Memorial was also dedicated on Memorial Day.
In 2002, nine more new streetlights were added in our downtown area. Tigerton Main Street bought and placed two concrete tigers in front of the “Welcome to Tigerton” signs, which had been purchased and installed by the Tigerton Advancement Association. New benches and planters were built and installed along Cedar Street in downtown Tigerton.
Tigerton Main Street, Inc. purchased the 1905 Village Hall in 2003. Flags and poles were added on the new streetlights. The first annual Tigerton Main Street 4th of July Block Party was held to raise funds for the restoration of the 1905 Village Hall. In August, a new roof was put on the 1905 Village Hall and the new bell tower was put up. Tigerton hosted the State Main Street quarterly meeting.
The 4th of July Kiddie Parade was started in 2004. The limited edition commemorative stoneware sale to raise money for the 1905 Village Hall also began. Tigerton Main Street had a float in several area parades.
Tigerton Main Street received a $167,000 grant from the Jeffris Foundation and a $162,610 grant and loan from the USDA - Rural Development toward the restoration of the 1905 Village Hall in 2005. Other large grants or donations for the building restoration came from the Ralph and Helene Schroeder Foundation-$5,000, Stockbridge-Munsee Community-$10,000, the National Trust for Historic Preservation-$5,000, The Home Depot-$3,000,and Central Wisconsin Electric Coop Operation Roundup -$2,500. (For a complete listing of all donors to the project, click on this donor link). Main Street also held a tractor and mountain bike raffle to raise funds for the restoration. The new “Tigerton” signs were purchased and installed at the Community Center.
In 2006, Kathy Robbins was named Main Street President. Main Street also received an additional grant of $38,600 from Rural Development, as well as other donations from Central Wisconsin Electric Coop-$1,500. Fisher-Ruckle Service-$2,700, First National Bank in Tigerton-$5,000, Tigerton Advancement Association-$5,000, and WPS Resources Foundation-$2,500. Work on the restoration of the 1905 Village Hall began in July with the exterior brick restoration. In September, work began on the interior restoration.
Work was completed on the 1905 Village Hall restoration project in February of 2007. On March 10th, the first event is held in the building. It is the annual Volunteer Recognition Banquet. The building was dedicated on July 4th along with the annual 4th of July Block Party. Plans have been drawn up for Tigerton Main Street’s next restoration project-the Tigerton American Legion building. Several businesses in our downtown area have undergoing major repairs and restorations. The main street through downtown Tigerton (Spaulding/Cedar Street) was rebuilt with new decorative sidewalks and crosswalks. The bridge was also replaced and three more new streetlights were added on the new bridge.
In 2008, new street signs and decorative garbage receptacles were added in the downtown area. The Gazebo Park in the heart of downtown was also completely redone as part of Thrivent Financials National Join Hands Day in May. Tigerton Main Street also received several prestigious awards at the 20th annual Wisconsin Main Street Awards, including the “20 Year Volunteer Award”. This was quite an honor for the smallest Main Street Community in the state.
Tigerton Main Street held their first (and only to date) “Winterfest” in January of 2009 at the Embarrass River ATV Park. The event featured horse-drawn sleigh rides through the park, as well as many other snow filled activities for kids young and old. A soup contest was held in the evening at the 1905 Village Hall so that everyone could go and warm up after a fun day in the snow. The event could not have gone any better, as temperatures were fairly nice and a light snow fell throughout the entire day. This was changed to just the "Taste of Tigerton Soup and Cookie contest starting the next year.
Virginia Kauffman was recognized and received an award from the Wisconsin Main Street for serving as Tigerton Main Street Manager for 10 years in April of 2009. The 1919 High School building was totally remodeled and portions of the middle and high School buildings were also renovated in 2009. The 1919 High School building now houses a fitness center which is open to the public, School District offices and meeting room, handicapped accessible restrooms, an elevator as well as class rooms for the school. The remodeling in the rest of the buildings resulted in a much needed daycare center as well as a larger commons and better organized classroom space. It was great to see another historic building from Tigerton’s past coming back to life to help revitalize our downtown area. In addition, Gwidt Pharmacy closed its doors in Tigerton, but on a good note, a new grocery store opened in Tigerton in August after Ron’s had closed in December of 2008.
"Winterfest" was not held in 2010, but in its place we expanded the soup contest and renamed it the "Taste of Tigerton Soup Contest" which was very well received. In September of 2010, Main Street held its first annual "Taste of Tigerton Applefest" at the Community Park shelter, which featured all our areas apple growers as well as crafters and "everything apple". Also, the American Legion Post #239 tore down their old Legion Hall and built a new, larger facility on the same site next to the Veteran's Memorial. The Tigerton girls softball team captured the Division 4 State Softball Championship, bringing home the first state championship in our schools history. They also brought back the school's first every "Sportsman Award" for outstanding sportsmanship by players and fans at the State Tournament.
The year 2011 was a rough one for our community. Both the grocery store and the Tigerton Lanes closed their doors and the buildings went up for sale. In addition, the 100+ year old building known as the "Farmer's Home" was condemned and torn down, leaving another vacant lot in our downtown area. On a more positive note, the Taste of Tigerton Applefest continued to grow and was very successful in drawing people from all over the state to our community. Also, the former Gwidt Pharmacy building was transformed into the Remember When Auction House and the first auction was held in November. The event certainly brought a lot of people to our community and many more similar events are planned for the building. The Village of Tigerton also remodeled and renovated the Community Center, making it a much more inviting and useful facility. Tigerton Main Street launched its own website to keep people up to date on what is going on in our community. It can be found at www.tigertonmainstreet.org.
In 2012, the Taste of Tigerton Soup and Cookie Contest featured voting for "Tigerton's Favorite" by all who attended. DB's Bar, formerly known as the "Vet's Club" closed its doors in January. Later in the year, James Gauthier purchased and remodeled the building. It is planned to reopen as the "Vet's Club in May of 2013. In June, the Tigerton Elevator closed went out of business suddenly, due to bankruptcy. The Tigerton High School Girls softball team made it to the State Tournament for the 3rd consecutive year. They finished runners up in Division 4 after falling to the defending champion Oakfield. For the second time in 3 years, Tigerton brought home the Sportsmanship Award for their outstanding sportsmanship at the Tournament.
The 4th of July Block Party attendance was down due to the intense heat on that day. Temperatures soared into the 90's with bright sunshine. A bike rodeo and free helmet give-away was planned, but due to the heat, the rodeo was cancelled and we just fitted and gave away the helmets. In spite of the conditions, the Civil War Dancers put on an outstanding performance, and overall the day wasn't really that bad. In 2013, the Block Party will be moved to the Legion Park, where there is a nice shelter from the sun. Tigerton Lumberjack Days again drew large crowds to our community and the Taste of Tigerton Applefest drew a large crowd of both vendors and attendees, in spite of cold and windy conditions. The Festival of Trees featured 36 beautifully decorated trees and drew several people to come and view them.
The 3rd annual Taste of Tigerton Soup and Cookie Contest was again very successful and kicked off the events for 2013. The Tigerton Lanes Bar and Grill opened in February. The interior of the building has been remodeled and modern, electronic scorers have been added to the bowling lanes. In cooperating with the Tigerton School District, Main Street has formed a student committee, made up of students from grades 7-12. A representative of this committee also has a position on the Main Street Board of Directors. This serves to give the young people a voice as to what they want to see happen in our community. A new and totally redone Tigerton Directory and Yellow Pages was published and was distributed throughout our community. This directory also included many cell phone numbers, and numbers for Tigerton School District residents who don't have a 535 prefix. It includes a greatly expanded government section as well.
The year 2013 marks the 20th anniversary of Tigerton Main Street. To celebrate this event, Main Street will be holding a Dinner on April 6th at the Community Center. Many state dignitaries have been invited and hopefully several will attend. A Civil War Re-enactment will also be held on May 18th at the Embarrass River ATV Park. We are trying to get the entire community involved in this project. The history of Tigerton is being researched and captured and will be published in a series of books. The first book will have Tigerton's history until the year 1900, and should be available around the end of 2013.