World's Fair Wisconsin Pavilion – Neillsville, Wisconsin - Atlas Obscura
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Neillsville, Wisconsin

World's Fair Wisconsin Pavilion

This odd-shaped relic from the 1964 New York World's Fair found its way back home to Wisconsin. 

Neillsville, Wisconsin is a long way from Flushing Meadows, New York, but the entrance to the Wisconsin Pavilion that stood at the 1964 New York World’s Fair continues to welcome visitors to the Midwest five decades later.

A relic of midcentury Modernist-style architecture, the yellow, tepee-shaped Rotunda is an odd sight for out-of-towners rolling down Highway 10. The strange shape symbolizes the state’s native history, and mosaic scenes of Native Americans decorate the surrounding walls. The glass tent is topped with a tall spire with giant blue and gold letters spelling out “Wisconsin.”

During the two-year run of the New York World’s Fair from 1964 to 1965, the state of Wisconsin’s exhibit saw some 13 million visitors. Aside from the yellow Rotunda, it featured what was then the world’s largest block of cheese, over 17 tons of Wisconsin cheddar.

Originally slated for demolition after the fair, the pavilion was purchased for $5,000 and shipped back to Wisconsin, arriving in the small town of Neillsville in 1966. The vintage relic has been home to the WCCN radio station ever since, and also includes a store selling local Wisconsin products like jam, honey, and of course, cheese.

If that wasn’t enough, Chatty Belle, the world’s largest talking cow, has been welcoming visitors for almost as long as the station has been broadcasting from this site. The 16-foot-tall, 20-foot-long fiberglass model cow will happily provide visitors with a history of the pavilion for just 25 cents.

Know Before You Go

At the entrance to the Pavilion there is a sunken rock garden and fountains, and inside, a collection of memorabilia from the fair. The site was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2012.