To read the tourist publications, you’d think that everyone in Southern Door is Belgian, almost everyone in Northern Door is Scandinavian, and of course, Washington Island is  totally populated with Icelanders. At least those ethnic groups seem to have the best publicists. The reality is that German immigrants outnumbered every other ethnic group in the early days of European settlement. But the Germans don’t advertise nor do they stand out as being different or unique.

When there is survival value in “seeming different or unique,”  plants and animals are said to have advertising coloration. Yes, nature invented marketing.  Advertising with colors that are unique or stand out, plants and animals can either attract animals or warn them to stay away.
The bright colors of flowers attract insect pollinators and colorful male birds are more likely to find a  desirable mate. Actually, the more vivid the coloration of a male bird, the healthier he is. So colorful males really are  better candidates to be good fathers.
Advertising potential danger is also very effective. Have you even been to a picnic when a black and yellow insect comes near. Animals and people of all ages panic, having learned early in life that the yellow/black combination on an insect means danger.
How about the distinctive white and black pattern on a skunk? That advertising coloration works really well. Even our beloved ladybugs and monarch butterflies are reddish orange to warn predators that they have a vile flavor. And after a few unpleasant samples, predators learn to recognize the advertising colors.
The first Germans in Door County didn’t dress in ethnic clothing or eat strange foods like lutefisk or Belgian trippe. They ate brats and drank beer.
And that’s the thing. So many Wisconsin residents are of German descent, German customs just seem normal. But it’s more than that according to the  Max Kade Instititute’s website, Ethnic Groups in Wisconsin. It explains,  “Although Germans were the most numerous ethnic group to settle in Wisconsin and have had the greatest impact on the cultural life of the state, they were also the most diverse in their regional, occupational, and religious backgrounds.
“Some were farmers, while others were skilled craftsmen. Some were Catholic, others Protestant, and still others Jews or “free thinkers.” Nor did they come from a single, unified “Germany” for most of the nineteenth century–rather there was a collection of many German-speaking kingdoms in northern and central Europe.”
On Sunday, August 10, the Door County Historical Society will offer a program: Celebrating our German  Heritage at the Heritage Village at Big Creek. Nan and Jerry Krause will share historical information and serve a few German dishes in the Warren House at 2:00.
The customs and foods probably will not seem particularly  foreign. The Ethic Groups website points out that  “German culture has been important in Wisconsin.  German athletic and social clubs (Turnverein) and singing clubs (Liederkranz) lasted well into the twentieth century and still exist in Milwaukee and other cities. German-style polka music is still popular throughout the state, and Oktoberfest is celebrated annually in many communities. Beer, bratwurst, and sauerkraut are ubiquitous in the state, whether they be found in a Bavarian Beirgarten on a Friday night or in the parking lot of Lambeau Field on a Sunday afternoon.” Or ,we might add, on a Sunday afternoon at Crossroads.
Family programs offered at 10:00 Monday-Thursday during the summer. This week, they will feature advertising coloration in plants and animals Door County Historical Society will offer programs  at 1:30 Tuesday-Thursday featuring our cultural heritage.

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