Badger #2 at Antigo, WI, 1921.
A.J. Kinsbury photo, MCRM collection.

Badger #2 at the museum in 1976. It was last used in service in February 1985.
Ron Jones photo.

Wisconsin & Southern will provide free train rides on August 12.
Photo by Paul Swanson.

C&NW Gandy Dancers take a break from their work near Shepley, WI about 1910.
Collection of Paul Swanson.

Madison Bluegrass Music Festival Schedule.


Presented in conjunction with
Southern Wisconsin Bluegrass Music Association, Inc.

Please join us for a day of train rides and bluegrass music on Sunday, August 12th at Madison’s Central Park. The Park is located at the intersection of Ingersoll & Wilson Streets, just east of the Madison Gas & Electric plant.

Free, forty-minute train rides will be provided by the Wisconsin & Southern Railroad on board their comfortable, air-conditioned coaches. Ticket distribution will begin at 9:00am at the Festival’s information booth and will be available on a first-come, first-served basis. Trains depart hourly. The first departure is at 10:00am. The last one will be at 4:00pm.

Free musical performances will take place inside the main tent featuring at:
11:00am Jefferson County Bluegrass Band
12:15pm Water Street Hotshots (Blues)
1:30pm Larry Penn (Train songs)
2:45pm Round the Bend (Bluegrass)
4:00pm Filisko & Noden (Blues)
5:15pm Nob Hill Boys (Bluegrass)
6:30pm Alan Munde Gazette (Bluegrass)

Our guest emcees for the musical performances will be Tom Martin-Erickson (host of Wisconsin Public Radio’s “Simply Folk”) and singer-songwriter Andy Moore.

Guest speakers will be making presentations in the Train Show tent beginning at 11:15am with Dave Zweifel, Editor-in-chief of the Capital Times sharing about his adventures “Riding the Rails”. He will be followed at 12:15pm by Steve Gilbert, a fisheries biologist for the DNR speaking on the use of trains in developing the state’s hatcheries program. At 1:15pm Jesse Auerbach, a project specialist for the Environmental Law and Policy Center, will speak on the future of trains in the Midwest.

Any and all amateur musicians are invited to join in a jam session with the Jefferson County Bluegrass Band in the Train Show tent at 2:15pm. Bring your instruments! This will be followed by a children’s show at 4:00pm with train songs performed by Larry Penn.

Also for the kids will be the juggling exploits of Jay Gilligan, Erik Aberg and Marcus Monroe, who have added our event as part of their Shoebox Tour. They will be joined by master jugglers from Japan, Komei Aoki and Masaki Hirano. Times for their two afternoon shows to be determined.

Plenty of food with plenty of variety will be available from the following vendors: Bab’s French Quarter, Burrito Drive, Chocolate Shoppe, Jamerica, La Rocca Restaurant, Loose Juice, Moo Cow Kettle Corn, and the Vera Court Neighborhood Center.

The theme for this year’s Gandy Dancer Festival is Bluegrass for the Badger 2 in keeping with the festival’s purpose of raising donations to help us meet the challenge grant issued by the Jeffris Family Foundation for the car’s restoration. An exhibit about the Badger 2 will be set up in the Train Show tent, where you can meet Mid-Continent’s Collections Manager, Leah Rosenow. Her research into the car’s history forms the basis for the restoration plan and the fund raising campaign to help restore the car to its original 1912 appearance.

Other exhibitors at the festival will be The Center for Railroad Photography & Art, Pro Rail of Madison, Wisconsin Operation Lifesaver, and the Urban Open Spaces Foundation.

The festival is funded in part by a grant from the Madison Arts Commission with additional funds from the Wisconsin Arts Board. We also wish to gratefully acknowledge the support received from the Wisconsin & Southern Railroad, Wells Fargo Bank, ProRail of Madison, WORT 89.9FM, and Berghoff Beer, without whom the Gandy Dancer Festival would not be possible.

To download informational brochure (pdf), click here.