Find out how this little town managed to "seceed" from the state of Wisconsin and how a simple mapmaker's mistake made this riverside community famous.
Things were quiet in the village of Winneconne, Wisconsin in early 1967. Not much different than they had been for the last 75 years. The village's population hovered at around 1500 souls who enjoyed their small community and the outdoor recreation afforded them.
But when the state of Wisconsin began distributing its 1967 highway maps, Winneconne became, at least for a few weeks, world famous.
Townspeople looked for Winneconne out of habit when the new maps hit the street. But their hometown was nowhere to be found. A mistake had a "dot" where Winneconne should be, but no name.
Some civic leaders in other small towns would have been angry. Winneconne decided to get even, with tongue firmly planted in cheek.
With a master stroke of public relations savvy, city leaders got together to formulate a plan. They were amused by the mistake, but also knew their fishing resorts, restaurants and businesses could actually be hurt if vacationers and visitors couldn't navigate their way to the community. They decided to let the state know they were not happy by throwing a party unlike any other. Throwing parties was something Wisconsin was very good at.
First, they announced plans to "seceed" from the state. Winneconne developed it's own "country" complete with flag. The town's state bird: the dodo. State flower: poison ivy. State fish: the carp. Perfect for a town that had suffered the ultimate indignity! They formed a navy, consisting of one cabin cruiser and a couple of very attractive young female ensigns.
An "army" and "air force" of local residents offered similar props. They stopped traffic on the main street bridge, collecting 25 cents per car as a "toll" for entering the new republic.
The events began to gain international news coverage, culminating with that "official" secession" in July of '67. They started a party that continues annually today. "Sovereign State" Days celebrate the year Winneconne was forgotten. A parade, firerworks, street dance and many more activities keep residents and visitors busy each year in mid-July.
Winneconne now boasts over 2,000 residents who are still attracted to the area by its location which spans both sides of the mighty Wolf River and connects with several large freshwater lakes perfect for fishing. The area boasts excellent schools, great farming and a safe environment for raising families. Winneconne even has its own museum which tells the story of that moment in 1967 when the village became temporarily extinct!