Sputnikfest 2014


Rahr-West Art Museum - click HERE for more info!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Miss Space Debris, 2013

Introducing: Melody Martian, Miss Space Debris of 2013. 
Origin Story:  Melody Martian and Marvin lived together on Mars and were deeply in love, but their love, alas, was forbidden.  You see, Marvin was a Moon-tague and Melody was a Space-Capsulet and the two families were sworn enemies.  
Melody's family emigrated from Mars to Venus to avoid persecution.  And now Marvin's sole purpose in life is to  destroy earth with his Illudium PU-36 Space Modulator because it blocks his view of Venus - and of his one true love, Melody Martian.  Melody entered the Miss Space Debris competition hoping that her winning might dissuade Marvin from destroying this planet, which Melody has taken a liking to - because she enjoys Sputnikfest so much. 
Melody says she decided to enter the Miss Space Debris competition because she loves to do "spunky, weird things."  She said she watched the competition last year and decided it would be the perfect thing to get involved in!
Melody beat out another very worthy finalist, Miss Galaxy Girl!
Melody's favorite thing about Sputnikfest is seeing all the different amazing costumes and seeing what people can come up with.  Melody particularly likes seeing the Star Wars characters each year and says that of all the characters from the movies, her favorite "would have to be Jabba The Hut because every time I see him I can't help but laugh."

When Melody is not at Sputnikfest, she loves to sing and play bass - and she also likes to read, hang out with her friends, and play volleyball.  But her favorite thing on Earth is Sputnikfest.  She says it is "a very fun, and interesting festival. I think it's a wonderful event for people of all ages!"  
At right is an image of Miss Space Debris 2012 and the 2013 finalists.
Melody will be representing the Spirit of Sputnikfest at various parades and events over the next year.  
Thanks to all who participated in this contest - and who attended Sputnikfest this year - the event would not be possible without your support.  Planet Terry

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Alien Pet Contest

Pets in Space?  This Discovery News article says it is possible.  Of course - as the article is talking about worms, I think these people may have too overbroad a definition of the term "pets."  

Nathaniel Szewczyk, associate professor in the Division of Clinical Physiology at The University of Nottingham is quoted as saying "Clearly worms are not people."  (That's why he's a scientist.) 

"We would love to send worms to places like Mars and/or other planets," Szewczyk said. "The key challenge ... is to convince governments and/or funding agencies that this can and should be done."  
Good luck getting funding for that.  We have a hard enough time getting sponsors for Sputnikfest - and we've got Elvis AND Vader'sFist on our side!

If they do get ready to start sending pets into space, we have some potential candidates right here.  

Contestants in this year's Alien Pet Contest included this distant cousin of a Gorn, 

a pair of Conehead Pooches, 

and this little Space Pup.  (oh yeah, he looks real happy to be here)  And when the pets take over the world, you know they are going to get even with us for this!  Thanks for checking back in.  And see you - and next year's Alien Pet contestants - at Sputnikfest 2014!  Planet Terry

Sunday, October 13, 2013

The Astro Babes - and Operation Moonwatch

When the Russians launched their Sputniks - astronomers, both professional and amateur - turned their eyes to the skies.  An initiative called "Operation Moonwatch" - organized by the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory - had its roots in the Cold War's Ground Observer Corps and the Civil Air Patrol.  

Amateur astronomers world-wide turned their scopes to the night skies to assist the professionals who were tracking the Soviet satellites.  

Members of the Moonwatch team in Milwaukee, Wisconsin observed and kept notes on
the re-entry of Sputnik 4 on the evening of September 4, 1962.

You can access a document detailing those events here.

The Moonwatch people prepared the above map showing the trajectory of the "last 100 miles" of the falling satellite.

It is quite appropriate, then, that another team of amateur astronomers - the Astro Babes - set up their equipment at this year's Sputnikfest only a few short steps away from the Sputnik 4 impact site.

Lynn and Amy (Real Women, Real Astronomy) and their Astronomical Entourage gave demonstrations of various equipment capable of daytime viewing.  

They are considering bringing additional scopes next year and sticking around for night sky observations!  Thanks Lynn and Amy - hope to see you, and anyone else with an interest in astronomy or wacky tacky fun, at Sputnikfest next year!   Planet Terry

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Space.com has been described as the "go-to" source for space technology news.  The website recently featured a story titled "Sputnikfest - How Wisconsin Celebrates Historic Fall of Soviet Satellite."

The history behind the event and the Soviet satellite which fell to earth in Manitowoc (the satellite is called "Kerplunknik" in the story) is recounted - along with some quotes from Greg Vadney, museum director, who says of the event "we don't take it too seriously, and we enjoy this crazy era, the 1960's, in space and social history. We keep the event simple, silly, and fun."

Here is a link to the story:

Cosmic Cake Contest

Each year at Sputnikfest we have a Cosmic Cake Contest.  Usually the
competition sees a whole meteor shower of entries ... but this year there were only two!

So - with cash prizes available for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Place - this meant choosing 1st and 2nd Place winners was a little easier.

And 3rd Prize went un-awarded!

(Note to anyone with an oven and a little imagination - be sure to enter next year!)

An entry requires a cake and a matching "mini-cake" or cupcake - made from the same recipe as the bigger cake.

This smaller cake is the one which is eaten by the judges.  It's a dirty job, but somebody's gotta do it, right?

Before the judging the cakes are on display to the public - and may be looked at, but not touched.

Hey!  Little Girl - that means you!  Don't make me call a Storm Trooper in here!

After the judging, the cakes are auctioned for charity.

See you at Sputnikfest next year - and as long as you are coming, why not bring a cake with you?  Planet Terry

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Wisconsin Garrison - 501st Legion, Vader's Fist

What has become an annual treat at Sputnikfest, was once again one of the high points of the event.  A large contingent of the Wisconsin Garrison 501st Legion/Vader's Fist ("The Star Wars People!") was in attendance.

A wide variety of characters were in attendance - various officers and officials of the Empire to Jawas and even Bossk, the reptilian bounty hunter.  

In the Star Wars universe, these are the bad guys, of course.  But despite the intimidating name "Vader's Fist" - these volunteers know it can be "good" to be bad.  
They invest their own money in their professional quality costumes (see a prior post on details) and these big-hearted Star Wars re-enactors ask for no payment whatsoever for themselves.  All they ask is that a donation to charity be made in their name.  

The weather for this year's event was a bit warm for the time of the year and you gotta know it was pretty warm inside of some of those costumes.  

The photo below shows a group of the Wisconsin Garrison relaxing - and cooling off - in what was a very popular feature of this year's Sputnikfest celebration - a hospitality room for event volunteers.  I did ask these folks if they minded my taking a photo of them partially out of uniform and the graciously consented.  

Some of the feedback from the Stars Wars people this year included "This is my favorite event of the year" - "I love that we are not the only ones who dress up" and "We so fit in at this event!" 

My sentiments exactly.  This is one of my favorite events, I love seeing all the people that get into the spirit of the day, and the Star Wars characters really do fit in at the event.  If you have been at Sputnikfest to celebrate the day with us, you know that.  If you haven't - but have any interest at all in space age history, Star Wars, or just Wacky Tacky Fun - you'd fit in here too.  See you next year!  Planet Terry 

Sunday, September 22, 2013


CCCP, the letters we often see associated with things from the old Soviet Union, stands for Union of Soviet
Socialist Republics.  So - why aren't the letters "USSR" rather than CCCP?  It has to do with the fact that CCCP is from the Cyrillic alphabet and while those particular letters look familiar to us - there are a whole lot of other letters in the Cyrillic alphabet that look more like Klingon than English - and the two alphabets do not readily translate directly.

It is a reasonable assumption that the letters CCCP would have appeared on Sputnik IV somewhere.  

And it is more than appropriate then that we have a CCCP standing in front of the replica of the recovered debris from Sputnik IV.  CCCP in this case would stand for Cute Children Charming Parent.  We note that this parental unit and her two young satellites dispensed with the aluminum foil hats and showed up for Sputnikfest in formal attire! 

Sputnikfest is well-known as a family friendly event - kids get to meet Jawas face to face and even Stormtrooper toddlers show up for the fun!  

Check back next week for more photos from Sputnikfest 2013 - and see you there next year!  Planet Terry

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Tinfoil Hats Were the Fashion Statement of the Day!

The best dressed Sputnikfest attendees knew that the ultimate fashion accessory for the event is a properly constructed aluminum foil hat.  Here are just a few of them.  And even the statuary got in on the act.  See the bottom picture here - a brass lawn decoration of a young boy and girl looking at a small frog in a pond.  As it turned out, a little later in the day the frog ended up with his own little aluminum foil hat!  Check back next week for more photos from Sputnikfest 2013 and be sure to wear your own aluminum foil hat when you attend Sputnikfest next year!  Planet Terry

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Sputnikfest 2013 - Photos

Sputnikfest 2013 wrapped up Saturday night and was an absolute blast.  I'll be posting some photos from the event over the coming weeks.  If you were there, you may see yourself in some of the photos.  If you weren't there - check to see what you missed and please consider attending next year!  I'll start with a couple photos of the opening feature - ELVIS - or rather Chadwick Gates, Elvis Impersonator.  Here is a link to his Facebook page.  This is the first year we had Elvis at the event and from the crowd reaction, he was a huge hit.
In a prior post - when I first mentioned that we would be having an Elvis impersonator at the event, I quoted a t-shirt slogan that said: "I saw Elvis.  He sat between me and Bigfoot on the UFO."  Well - in a life-imitates-art moment - I will caption this next photo: "I saw Elvis.  He was between the Alien and the Fox with the golf club - right next to the Stormtrooper."  From left to right (not that you would mix them up) - a member of the Wisconsin 501st Legion Wisconsin Garrison, outgoing Miss Space Debris 2012 (Juliet Kosarzycki), Elvis, and a member of the Masquers theater group - promoting the upcoming feature The Fox on the Fairway.
Only in Manitowoc.  Only at Sputnikfest.   See you next year!
 Check back here for more!

Monday, September 2, 2013


Less than a week until Sputnikfest!  This guy is leaving his spaceship at home and making the trip by car!  (some of you may recognize this as a Speed Racer repaint)  One of the popular events at each year's Sputnikfest are the Space Pod Raffles! 
Remember that this event is absolutely free and exceedingly family friendly - it's for kids of all ages!   But is a fundraising event for the children's art programs at the Rahr-West Art Museum - and there are optional activities aimed toward that end.  The
Space Pod Raffle is one of them.  See a previous post for details on how these work, but here is a sneak peak at just one of prize packages you could win if you participate - and believe me, the Force is definitely "with" this Space Pod!  Total estimated value for this selection is at least $150.  This lot will include:
  • a hard to find "Dude Trooper" embroidered patch
  • a leather-bound Star Wars Trilogy - the Barnes & Noble exclusive, still sealed
  • a Space Escapade CD - (see a prior post here discussing this Les Baxter space-age classic)
  • a set of 9 original 1977 Star Wars greeting cards put out by Drawing Board - clean un-used greeting cards with original envelopes
  • Star Wars Return of the Jedi Illustrated Edition - 1983 First Edition, mint condition
  • Plus - the One-Of-A-Kind custom-made Sputnik-Mobile with Alien Driver
  • AND a complete set of Topps Star Wars Series 2 trading cards - a FULL set, with 66 cards and 11 stickers - plus one wax-pack wrapper
This is just one of the Space Pods that will be available.  Be there next Saturday to see them all! 

Something else you will be able to see - a video of the BBC program "All Over the Place" - the part of the episode featuring last year's Sputnikfest.  The BBC television show visited Sputnikfest last year and provided the video recording to the Rahr West Museum for promotional purposes.  BE THERE to see this - because it is likely the only place this side of the "big pond" that you can!

See you next Saturday!  Planet Terry

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Only 10 Days To Sputnikfest!

And also - only 10 days until Lobsterfest!  If  you are planning on attending the other annual Manitowoc festival that is taking place on September 7 - there will again this year be a convenient FREE shuttle bus that will provide transportation between that event and Sputnikfest.  Watch for the signs - and see you on September 7!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Only 13 Days Until Sputnikfest!

Add caption
I never saw a Purple Cow,
I never hope to see one;
But I can tell you, anyhow,
I'd rather see than be one.

But if to see a Sputnik Cow
Had been your sacred quest -
You have a chance to see one now -
Out front at Cedar Crest!

Returning this year for Sputnikfest - the Cedar Crest Cow decked out in Sputnik finery!  The large fiberglass bovine was decorated for Sputnikfest a few years back, but she sat out the last couple years.  But due to the generosity of the people at Cedar Crest Ice Cream in Manitowoc, the Cedar Crest Cow will once again be showing her Sputnik Spirit. 

 Here are a few photos of the work in progress from this past week.  See the finished product when you visit this year for Sputnikfest - the Cedar Crest Dairy and Ice Cream Parlor is  just a little south of the museum at 2000 South 10th Street.  See the Sputnik Cow - get some photos - and, hey - buy some ice cream while you are there!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Only 20 Days Until Sputnikfest!

And making an appearance this year at Sputnikfest - yes!  The ASTRO BABES!  The Astro Babes are Lynn and Amy - "two women interesting in all things related to astronomy and space" - and that, of course, includes Sputnikfest.  The Astro Babes will be on site at Sputnikfest sharing their astronomy expertise from 4 to 7PM!  Here is a link to their website.  See the Astro Babes - and all the other Spuntikfest fun and frivolity - on September 7 in Manitowoc.  Planet Terry

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Only 27 Days Until Sputnikfest!

It is Coming!  And it will be bigger and better and wackier and tackier than ever!  More fun, more to do - more food - the Star Wars characters - DON'T MISS IT!

The expanded food offerings will include:
* A Cosmic Corn Roast sponsored by Boy Scout Troop 939
* and ALIEN PIZZA by Wildfire Pizza Company
Plus the usual popcorn, cotton candy, burgers, barbecue, mini-donuts - and even egg-rolls!

Consume Mass Quantities!

Miss Space Debris made her final parade appearance at the Annual Valders Lions Picnic Parade - see photos below. 

Great to watch the reactions of the crowd as the convertible drives by with Miss Space Debris in the back.
Check back for more detail between now and then - and BE THERE on September 7 - you don't want to miss it!  Planet Terry

Sunday, July 28, 2013

I Love A Parade!  And so did everyone else who turned out for the 17th Annual Mishicot Riverfest today.  Mishicot is a small community just a few miles from Manitowoc - and Miss Space Debris graced the parade with her cosmic presence, waving to the adoring masses from the back of a convertible, the use of which was generously donated for the event by First Chrysler of Manitowoc.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Happy Father’s Day
As with most of mankind’s great achievements, many people played a role in Sputnik’s success, but Sergei Korolev has often been referred to as the “Father” of the Sputnik project.    
Sergei Korolev was a licensed pilot and an aircraft designer who excelled in the skills of design integration, organization and strategic planning.  He was the man behind the scenes responsible for much of the success of the Soviet space program. 

During Stalin's 1938 Great Purge, he was accused of plotting against the government and imprisoned in a Siberian gulag – a labor camp prison from which 30 percent of those imprisoned did not survive.  Korolev survived, but lost all of his teeth, suffered a broken jaw, and developed a heart condition. Eventually, he was moved from the manual labor camp to a special slave-labor camp where scientists and engineers worked on projects assigned by the communist party leadership.  Later he was discharged by special government decree and his prior convictions were dismissed.
Along with other experts, he worked to reverse engineer the German V-2 rocket technology after WWII.  His contributions to that effort led to the successful R-7 intercontinental ballistic missile, the workhorse of the Soviet space program.  Korolev played an active role in the Soviet space effort from the early days, right up through the manned program.
In his memoirs, Nikita Khrushchev’s son recalled how his father learned about the successful launch of Sputnik I.  The Soviet leader was having a late reception at the Mariinsky Palace, in Kiev, Ukraine, when an aide called him to the telephone.  Khrushchev reappeared minutes later, "with his face shining":
I can tell you some very pleasant and important news, Khrushchev said, Korolev just called (at this point he acquired a secretive look). He's one of our missile designers. Remember not to mention his name - it's classified. So, Korolev has just reported that today, a little while ago, an artificial satellite of the Earth was launched." Father looked triumphantly around at those present. Everyone smiled politely,
without understanding just what had happened."

Sergei Korolev died January 14, 1966 at the age of 59, of complications from ailments contracted during his incarceration at the gulag prison camp. 
Before his death he referred to publicly only as "Chief Designer" and his actual identity was kept secret.  This was partly because in the Soviet system all successes were to be seen as a product of a committee, rather than the contributions of any one man, and partly because the Soviets feared an attempt on his life by the CIA if his identity were revealed.  American intelligence did not learn his identity until about a year before he died – and his identity was not revealed publicly in the Soviet Union until after his death.
And Then We Have "Father Sputnik"
While researching this post I found a reference to a rather intriguing painting by California surrealist artist William Stoneham, titled "Father Sputnik, 2010" - here is a link to a website featuring some of his work.  Check the Sputnik logo on the car's hood - and the Sputniks falling from the sky and piled up in the background. 

Happy Father's Day - and see you for Sputnikfest on September 7, 2013!