Highlights of Wisconsin's French Connections Fair
University of Wisconsin--Milwaukee Campus
May 7, 1998
The "Wisconsin's French Connections" Sesquicentennial project is made possible in part by a grant from the Wisconsin Humanities Council. We would also like to thank the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the French Consulate General, the Canadian Consulate General and GE Medical Systems for their generous support of the project and the Fair.

The Wisconsin's French Connections Fair was probably one of the biggest French-related school events to be held in Wisconsin. On May 7, 1998, nearly 2000 students and teachers from as far away as Kenosha, Madison and Oshkosh came to UW-Milwaukee to contribute their projects and view an array of "French Connections" from as far back as 1632 to the present. Each student and teacher received a "Passport" which helped them plan their "visit" to all the displays, performances, activities and tasty treats. We don't have photos of all the participants and displays but to get an idea of the variety of contributions, please take a look at the complete WFC Fair program.

Students entering the Wisconsin Room, in UWM's Student Union where some of the Fair activities were held. These students are viewing exhibits while heading for the very popular French café. Photo by Ken Fleurant.

Such an ambitious undertaking required months of preparation by WFC Fair organizers, WFC Webmaster, the Steering Committee and a host of volunteers from UW-Milwaukee, the Alliance Française and Marquette University. In this series of snapshots we see the three Fair organizers, a member of the Steering Committee and several volunteers. Photos by Mary Fossier and Brigitte Coste, Marquette University.

Project director Gabrielle Verdier (UW-Milwaukee) greets students next to a wonderful display of World Cup Soccer, La Coupe du Monde, contributed to the Fair by the Cultural Services of the French Consulate. The exhibit included a pictorial overview of soccer history and previews of the June-July 1998 World Cup, hosted by France in a half-dozen cities across the country.

Project co-director Martine Meyer (UW-Milwaukee) prepares mini-quiches for the Café Français, with the help of Virginia Goldberg, volunteer. The K-12 students consumed a least 400 mini-quiches, in addition to many other delicacies from around the French-speaking world.

Toni Wulff (Mount Mary College), organizer of French Business Connections, supervises registration. Thanks to Toni, nine international companies set up booths at the fair. Their representatives explained their company's international operations and the importance of studying French and other foreign languages and cultures. WFC is especially grateful to GE Medical Systems for their generous contribution to the project, which allowed us to charge a very minimal registration fee to attend the fair -- just $1 per student!.

Jim Radtke (Marquette High School), member of the Steering Committee, prepares WFC Fair Passports. The committee included ten members of SWAAF (Southeast Wisconsin Academic Alliance in French):

Paula Fox-Johnson, Muskego High School; Claudia Kabler-Babbitt, Milwaukee French Immersion School PTA; Carole Kincaid, Sarah Scott Middle School; Amy Lewis, University School of Milwaukee; Anne Line, Wauwatosa East HS; Martine Meyer, UWM; Jim Radtke, Marquette HS; Nancy Sturino, Wauwatosa West HS; Gabrielle Verdier, UWM; Toni Wulff, Mount Mary College

Madeleine Velguth (right, UW-Milwaukee) counts tickets for the Café Français. Other indispensable volunteers and Alliance française members included:

UWM Faculty, Staff, Students: Tony Ciccone, Penny Crandall, Colin Deval, Carrie Diener, Alex Dye, Anne Kern, Charles Lorum, Brad Matthews, Lisa McFarland, Jim Mileham, Marie-Noelle Oliver, Beth Poquette, Ron Snyder, Jackie Vinson, Andy Wallis, Greg Whitten

Alliance Française Members:
Sharon Andonov, Nathalie Bouvet, Vivian Corres, Brigitte Coste, Jerôme Davre, Mary Emory, Ann Fieldhack, Mary Fossier, Virginia Goldberg, Yann Hélouvry, Caroline Jacobs, Paula Johnson-Fox, Amy Lewis, Gwen Plunkett, Jim Radtke, Jennifer Vemmer

Our Webmaster, Ken Fleurant, is not pictured in Fair photos because he spent his time behind the camera!

A number of distinguished guests honored the WFC fair with their visit. The Honorable John Norquist, Mayor of Milwaukee, cut the ribbon and addressed the students and teachers with words of welcome in flawless French. (He might have gotten some help from his sister, Carolyn Vargo, French teacher at Juneau High School and member of SWAAF.) Marshall Goodman, Dean of Letters and Science at UW-Milwaukee and Charles Kroncke, Dean of the School of Business Administration, underscored the importance of studying foreign languages and cultures to prepare for careers in the 21st century. In this photo, Deputy Consul General of France, Stéphane Catta, smiles approvingly and Dean Goodman tests his listening comprehension skills as Mayor Norquist delivers his speech in French. Photo by Ken Fleurant.

In addition to Monsieur Catta, the representative of the French Consulate in Chicago, two other distinguished guests travelled to Milwaukee from the windy city. Jeanne Braun, Cultural Affairs Officer of the Canadian Consulate General, and Timothy Rogus, Public Affairs Office of the Québec Trade Commission. We thank the Canadian Consulate for a grant that allowed us to include a concert of French-Canadian Songs by Denise Wilson as part of WFC Fair programming. Mr. Rogus contributed two interesting videos on French Canadian culture to the event: a documentary on the Winter Carnival in Québec, "Défilé de nuit au 44ième Carnaval de Québec" and "Nos rècits de voyage," a beautiful account of French exploration of the North-American continent, produced by the Musée de l'Amérique française. Photo by UWM News Services and Publications.

The WFC Fair was a wonderful occasion to honor students for their outstanding work in French. In this photo, Deputy Consul General of France, Stéphane Catta presents the prestigious AATF (American Association of Teachers of French) award to Nora Phillips, senior at Shorewood High School. One of eleven national winners, Nora won a prize that included a wonderful trip to France to see the World Cup Games. [When you've finished your visit to the Fair, come back and read Nora's photo essay.] She and the other winners even met Jacques Chirac, President of France. Nora is now a Freshman at Indiana University. Congratulations also to Nora's teacher, SWAAF member Margaret Schmidt-Dess. Photo by UWM News Services and Publications.

Other scholarship recipients honored included Becky Larson (Emmanuelle Leah Fetter Memorial Scholarship --UW-Milwaukee), Olena Jennings (Leah Fetter Merit Scholarship for study in a Francophone country -- UW-Milwaukee), Kristi Pfaff and Barbara Garces (Mariele Schirmer Scholarships for study of French and German --UW-Milwaukee) and Greg Whitten (Alliance Française contest winner - UW-Milwaukee, not pictured.) French teacher Carole Kincaid (Sarah Scott Middle School) was also honored for receiving a grant from the French Government to participate in the CAVILHAM summer seminar on French and technology in Vichy, France. Photo by UWM News Services and Publications.

Among the wonderful displays, a 26-panel exhibit on Francophone writers and artists from Haïti, Martinique, Guadeloupe and other French-speaking regions in the Americas. Here we see the panel for Haitian poet Jacques Roumain and his compatriot, René Depestre. Special thanks to Deputy Cultural Attaché Didier Rousselière, Chicago Consulate, for making this exhibit, the soccer exhibit and a wealth of other materials available for the WFC Fair. To challenge fair participants, Mary Fossier (Marquette University) created an amusing quiz on Francophone writers, with versions in French and in English. Photos by Ken Fleurant.

Displays contributed by community organizations were very much appreciated as well.This poster created by the French Canadian/Acadian Genealogists shows the most common French family names in various Wisconsin counties. Jo Christon and Maxine Plasa, members of the genealogical society, showed students how to research their family tree. Further information on this can be found in the Wisconsin French Connections Family Room. Photo by Ken Fleurant.

Among other representatives of cultural and community organization whom we would like to thank are Vivian Corres, educator at the Milwaukee Public Museum, and Cecelia and Ray Krawczyk. The three organized a fascinating display of artifacts showing French-Indian cultural exchange. While Cecelia, a member of the Oneida Turtle Clan, demonstrated Woodland Indian beadwork, "Green Mountain Boy" Ray, in the role of a "French and Indian War Survivor," played eighteenth-century tunes on his concertina, fife and other period instruments. Photo by Ken Fleurant.

Student projects were a major highlight of the Fair. Several researched the past, such as Marquette High School's exhibit on "Père Marquette and Wisconsin" (teacher Jim Radtke) and Sheboygan North High School's video of a "Voyageur Performance" (teacher Linda Bernard-Olson). Other projects displayed contemporary French Connections, for example, exchange programs with schools in French-speaking countries. On this snapshot, students from Divine Saviour Holy Angels High School explain and show photos and other materials documenting their visit to Limoges, where they spent two weeks in Spring, 1998. Limoges, located in central France, makes world-famous Limoges porcelaine. Bravo to teacher Eileen Gleeson for organizing the yearly exchange. For further information on school exchanges visit the WFC Office. Photo by Ken Fleurant.

WFC includes links with countries and regions around world where French is spoken. This impressive poster in French, one of several projects by talented students at Wauwatosa West High School (teacher Nancy Sturino), shows continuities in the belief and practice of voodoo (le vaudou), in Africa, Haiti and New Orleans. This poster complemented a display of fascinating Haitian folk art contributed by the community group, "Haiti: Mind, Body, Bread Organization." Photo by Ken Fleurant.

Teacher Michele Lapean-Usher integrated WFC activities into her seventh-grade exploratory French curriculum. Her students at Milton Middle School contributed beautiful and original posters illustrating "Personal French Connections"-- a personal interpretation of French artists, writers, events, sports, etc., they found particularly interesting. Here are two of the many posters displayed on two large wallboards at the fair. The variety is amazing! From François Rabelais and the guillotine, to la Tour Eiffel, impressionist painters and French Open Tennis! For views of other posters by Milton Middle School teachers please visit the Art Studio. Photos by Ken Fleurant.

The youngest WFC contributors may have made the biggest impression of all. In a section of the Wisconsin Room, Milwaukee's French Immersion School set up a model classroom and demonstrated some of their all-in-French activities: songs, skits, recitations. The older students were in awe of how well these K-6th graders spoke French! In this photo, first-graders sing and act out a popular French song. Photo by Ken Fleurant.

The very active participation of the French Immersion School would never have been possible without the help of the dedicated PTA. Our special thanks to Claudia Kabler-Babbitt, WFC Steering Committee member, who worked very hard with both the parents and the teachers at MFIS to make sure that the students could participate in the Fair. The PTA also set up a booth that featured educational materials in French. In this photo, PTA volunteers discuss the benefits of language immersion instruction with Paul Sandrock, Coordinator of Foreign Languages for the Department of Public Instruction. Photo by Ken Fleurant.

Wisconsin's Business Connections with French-speaking countries were a major attraction of the Fair. Representatives of eight major companies demonstrated their international operations with a focus on the Francophone world. Products exhibited included sophisticated medical technology, a snowmobile and agricultural products. Our special thanks to:

  • GE Medical Systems: Marc Onetto, Global Quality Six Sigma General Manager; Frederick Riberas, and Eric Thierry
  • Bombardier Corporation: Robert Luemley
  • Derco Aerospace: Jayny Aliota, Manager of Human Resources; Kristen Liebbe, Account Representative, European Division
  • Johnson Controls: Adele Yelich, Senior Customer Service Representative
  • Allen Bradley - Rockwell International: Operator Interface Translation Team: Cathia Hawl and Geneviève Ackaouy
  • Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection: Jennifer McLaughlin, International Marketing Consultant
  • Europa Books: Danielle M Huguet
  • W.H. Brady: Carole Herbsteit-Kalinyen, Manager of Public Relations
  • Carole Herbsteit-Kalinyen, Manager of Public Relations, describes products manufactured and marketed by WH Brady to high school students researching careers in international business. (Carole studied French at UW-Milwaukee.) Photo by Ken Fleurant.

    Business, cultural and historical French Connections are featured on this photo. Mary Emory, President of the Alliance Française, introduces Geneviève Ackaouy who is showing a tee-shirt compressed into the smallest possible packaging to Diane Duffey, UW-Milwaukee graduate student in French and Library and Information Sciences. When the package is opened, a full-size tee-shirt pops out, with the logo of Allen Bradley-Rockwell International. Translator Geneviève and colleague Cathia Hawi, members of the Operator Interface Translation Team, demonstrated an even more fascinating product which they use in their work at Allen Bradley-Rockwell International -- the "Transcend" computer translation program. Their hands-on demonstration allowed students to translate English sentences into French by using the computer program. But they also saw that even "intelligent" machines cannot translate the nuances of language, so there will always be a need for human translators. Photo by Brigitte Coste

    From high-tech to history! Diane Duffey prepared a display of seventeenth-and eighteenth-century French maps of the Great Lakes Region and a trivia quiz to challenge map readers. Diane display of maps in reproduction prepared students to visit the real thing -- a fascinating exhibit of authentic old French maps prepared for fair by the American Geographical Society in UW-Milwaukee's Golda Meyer Library. These maps were made long before aerial photography and satellite imagining. The intrepid French missionaries and explorers who mapped our region had little more than a compass to orient them as they followed native American guides.You may view some of these maps in the WFC library. On the podium you can also see early maps of Green Bay and Prairie du Chien , as well as artifacts from early French-Canadian households. Mary-Antoine de Julio, historian and curator at the Villa Crawford Museum at Prairie du Chien, described what life was like for the French-speaking pioneers in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries in her hands-on presentation "How Did Our French-Canadian Ancestors Live?"

    So much activity worked up the appetite! Hungry students very much appreciated the Café Français. The gastronomical treats were donated by Alliance Française members and generous Milwaukee-area restaurants. Others were made by talented K-12 French students. Teacher Kathy Beaver and her students from Plymouth High School get ready to sample cheeses made in Belmont, Wisconsin, by the international French cheese manufacturer, Besnier. Many thanks to Monsieur Rémy Colas, Manager of the Belmont plant, for donating over forty pounds brie, camembert, port salut and other wonderful cheeses to our fair. To accompany the cheese, Breadsmith Bakery on Downer Avenue donated enough bread to feed an army of K-12 students -- 25 baguettes and 75 loaves of French country bread, pain de campagne. Merci infiniment, Stacey Dennison and Matthew Finco, managers of Breadsmith on Downer. Photo by Brigitte Coste.

    Students also had the chance to taste delicious specialties from other parts of the world where French is spoke. Wearing the fabulous red hat, Rihab Aris, chef and owner of Au Bon Appétit Restaurant, and Costi Helou, co-owner, invite students to taste several varieties of hummos, a low-fat chick-pea spread served with pita bread. Family-owned Au Bon Appétit (located at 1016 E. Brady Street, Milwaukee 53202) specializes in Mediterranean-Middle-Eastern Cuisine with a French flair. Photo by Brigitte Coste.

    How about some French pastries? Smiling pastry chef Nathalie Dubois-Bouvet and her two little daughters contributed several varieties of home-made pâtisseries, including madeleines, gâteau au chocolat, clafoutis. Recently arrived in Wisconsin, Madame Dubois-Bouvet also demonstrated the amazing French culinary invention she used for baking these pastries, "Flexipan." This high-tech cookware made by Société Demarle can go from freezer to oven but is completely flexible, making it perfectly easy to unmold fancy forms. "Flexipan" products are sold to professional chefs by Williams Sonoma. We hope that Nathalie will make this French Connection permanent and open a great French pastry shop in southeastern Wisconsin. Next to Nathalie in the French Café, junior chefs from middle and high schools gave demonstrations and samples of their French culinary masterpieces: Tarte Tatin -- Sarah Scott Middle School (teacher Carole Kincaid); Fondue and Crêpes (citron, Nutella) -- Wauwatosa East High School (teacher Ann Line); Crêpes (sucre, confiture) -- Wauwatosa West High School (teacher Nancy Sturino). Photo by Brigitte Coste.

    While some students relaxed in the café or viewed exhibits, others gathered in the Union Cinema or the UWM Fine Arts Theater for several performances. These included performances of "Les Boulingrins," a one-act comedy in French by Courteline, performed by Alliance Française players under the direction of Colette Lesage and Lucien Lesage.

    A Wisconsin connections travels to France! "Les Toussaints," All Saints Church and Messmer High School Gospel Choir, directed by Arlene Skwierawski, performed the program of Gospel and French songs that they were invited to sing in France at the Limoges Cathedral in July 1998.

    Musician and historian Denise Wilson presented a wonderful concert entitled "Embrassez le passé: A Musical Celebration of Wisconsin's French-Canadian Pioneers." These photos of Denise singing and posing with re-enactors were taken when they visited a class on Wisconsin's French and French-Canadian Heritage, taught by Gabrielle Verdier and Martine Meyer in Fall 1997, as part of the WFC project. Notice the beautiful costumes and Denise's fancy plumed hat. Photos by Gabrielle Verdier.

    Teacher Bonnie Knight, also a re-enactor, and her students from Eau Claire High School, presented a very informative, hands-on program, entitled "Voyageur Days," in the UWM Student Union Cinema. But they didn't just perform -- they relived "voyageur days." Arriving from Eau Claire on May 6, they did not head straight for the hotel but set up an encampment on the campus grounds. The 7 students and 3 teachers slept under tents and cooked their breakfast over a campfire. As you can see, everything was perfect except the weather. May 6 & 7 were cold and rainy but this did not dampen their spirits, a tribute to Bonnie Knight (standing, far right on the photo), who has been researching and experienced the rugged lives of the French-speaking pioneers for over ten years and is now writing a book on the subject, to be used in Wisconsin schools. Photo by Ken Fleurant.

    Under Bonnie Knights direction's Eau Claire High School voyageurs demonstrate how to carry a heavy load of furs. The voyageurs would carry loads weighing up to 200 pounds! Photo by Ken Fleurant.

    Eau Claire voyageurs cook pea soup over the open fire and invite fair-goers to sample it. Nourishing and delicious, especially on a cold day. For a pea soup recipe, please go the WFC kitchen. Photo by Ken Fleurant.

    No French fair can be complete without a favorite outdoor sport -- la pétanque, a Provençal variety of bowling -- which is played in parks and squares all over France (surtout dans le Midi - Southern France.) Despite the drizzle, students lined up all day to try their skill. The competition was organized by Tony Ciccone (UW-Milwaukee) who lent his boules de pétanque and explained the rules and Mary Fossier (Marquette University) who wrote up the rules and kept score. To see the rules for pétanque, click here. Photos by Ken Fleurant and Mary Fossier.

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