Sputnikfest 2014

SEPTEMBER 6 2014 - MANITOWOC, WISCONSIN

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


Sunday, June 8, 2014

SPUTNIKFEST 2014 ... It's less than three months away now!

If you visit Manitowoc for Sputnikfest this year, you may notice a change to the downtown cityscape.  The Mirro Aluminum manufacturing facility on Washington Street, idled in 2003, is coming down. 

Mirro had a proud history in Manitowoc - manufacturing aluminum goods since 1909.  In 1958, only a year after Sputnik 1 made history - Mirro debuted its Mirro Medallion line of futuristic styled aluminum giftware.  

The Mirro Medallion line is now recognized for its mid-century modern design elements and prized by collectors.  The line of aluminum housewares was intended as high-end giftware and was a bit pricey for its time - the various pieces sold for between $8.00 and $22.00.  There was some price resistance by consumers and by 1960 Mirro stopped production.  

Given the limited production window of only two years - the Mirro Medallion pieces are hard to come by today.   The "atomic starburst" emblem appearing on the pieces is quite distinctive and the design of the line was definitely ahead of its time.  

It is unfortunate that the "sputnik era" Mirro Medallion line "crashed" before Sputnik IV did. 


Make plans now to visit Manitowoc on September 6, 2014 for Sputnikfest - and while you are in town, check out the demolition site on Washington Street to see the birthplace of Mirro Medallion line.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Did Sputnik Kill The Tailfin?

"With seams on our nylons and fins on our cars, we dreamed of the future and looked to the stars."

So went a line in a poem composed on the occasion of the first Sputnikfest celebration. 

So whatever happened to tailfins on cars?  Several sources speculate that tailfins on cars where a casualty of Russia's Sputnik program.  While the "nifty fifties" were "a decade of confidence about economic abundance, American power, and the potential of science and technology" they were followed by the turbulent sixties "a period of rising political and social tensions, when it became clear that both American power overseas and the ability of science to solve problems had definite limits." (quoted from "Lesson 25: The Impact of the Cold War on Washington, the 1962 World's Fair")

An article from Hemmings Daily titled "Sputnik and the Death of the Tailfin" describes car design of the 1950's this way:  "towering tailfins and rocket-engine inspired taillamps; futuristic design was all the rage and chrome was everywhere."  Our cars expressed our feelings about the future.  Space was a place man was sure to be exploring - soon.  And the men doing the exploring would be Americans. 

Then came "Red Monday" and the "beep-beep-beep" heard around the world - literally ... around the world.  The Hemmings article describes this as a "sobering" event for America.  "Space was no longer a whimsical thing of people’s imaginations. Space was real and we were losing."  

The extravagance of finned car design, which found its apex in the 1959 GM Firebird III (a car that never did make it to market as a production vehicle) gave way to more conservative and "sober" car design.   

Hemmings says it is no coincidence that "pretty much every single new 1960 model year car featured either significantly smaller tailfins or none at all."


Make plans to visit Manitowoc, Wisconsin this year on September 6 for Sputnikfest.  Nothing "sobering" at all about this "extravagant" event.  At Sputnikfest space is still a "whimsical thing."  Indulge your imagination.  Celebrate the past.  Dream of the future and look to the stars.  And this year - create a cardboard Sputnik spaceship car for the First Annual Cardboard Spaceship Downhill Derby.  Don't forget to put tailfins on it!  
Planet Terry   

Sunday, April 6, 2014

David Letterman announced his pending retirement this past week.  Here is a photo I found online of what he looked like as a Freshman at Broad Ripple High School in Indianapolis, Indiana - in 1962 - the year that the Sputnik IV space debris crash-landed in Manitowoc. 

And in honor of David Letterman, here are the -  

Top  Ten Reasons to Attend Sputnikfest 2014






10.  Lots of free children's activities.  For example, kids get to make a toy spaceship, robot, or raygun.








9.  Get up close and personal with Elvis AND Star Wars characters at the same venue.





8.  Lots of free entertainment on the main stage - watch the Alien Pet Contest and the Miss Space Debris Pageant.








7.  Enjoy great music - also on the main stage and also free.




6. See the historically accurate (sort of ... a little bit ... okay, not-so-much) re-enactment of the launch and re-entry of Sputnik IV.






5. See people (and statues) in aluminum foil hats - and Aliens.








4. Sample an out-of-this-world assortment of edible delights.





3. Shop hand-crafted artwork from local artisans or a unique assortment of Sputnikfest merchandise, including limited edition posters by Tina Kugler.








1. Have your picture taken near the brass ring that marks the Sputnik IV impact site - without having to dodge traffic.  


See you on September 6.  Planet Terry.  

Sunday, March 16, 2014

In an effort to keep things new and fresh and exciting, Sputnikfest 2014 will feature some changes from prior years - hopefully all positive and all in the spirit of wacky, tacky fun.
Some Sputnikfest events will be put on hiatus, some will be changed up a bit, and there will be some entirely new events.
Gone for 2014: The Cosmic Cake Contest.  For those of you who look forward to this event each year - please find another creative outlet at Sputnikfest this year.  There are a lot of opportunities to get involved and exercise your creative talents.


NEW EVENT for 2014!  A Cardboard Spaceship Downhill Derby!  At an organizational meeting we were brainstorming ideas for new events - and realized we have a nice long downhill stretch of street, on the South side of the Sputnikfest grounds, which really has been underutilized in past events.  We decided to start a downhill derby event - kind of similar to a soapbox derby - with a "Crash Your Own Sputnik" theme.  The exact logistics and rules for the event are still being worked out and will be posted here at a later date - but this event has a lot of exciting potential and I wanted to get it out there asap to get some of you at least thinking about putting together an entry.  The entry fee will be minimal.  We are
looking for cardboard home-made spaceships on rolling human powered chassis.  Prizes will be awarded for creativity and for best downhill time - with the spaceships "soft landing" in bales of hay at the downhill end of the street.  

Keep checking back for more details on this year's Sputnikfest - and see you here in Manitowoc on September 6, 2014!  Planet Terry

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Sputnikfest - Against the Odds ...

Kosmos-1220 was launched into orbit in November 1980 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, which was then part of the Soviet Union - and is the same launch site for Sputnik IV (of Sputnikfest fame.)  Its mission as part of the Soviet naval missile targeting system ended in 1982. 

The Russian Defense Ministry says the satellite burned up in the atmosphere at about 17:58 Moscow time (13:58 GMT) on February 16.  Prior to the fall of the satellite, British gambling giant Ladbrokes, gave odds on likely crash sites for the satellite, for instance: 2 to 1 odds that it to land in the Pacific Ocean and 10 to 1 that it would hit Europe.  

As of right now, I am a little unsure of exactly where it did end up.  While some sources are saying the satellite burned up on re-entry, other stories are saying it crashed to earth in northern Saudi Arabia.  All this more than 50 years after Sputnik IV made landfall in Manitowoc, Wisconsin - but after all that time, in some ways - not much has changed.  Then and now, pinpointing exact trajectories of space debris re-entering the atmosphere is extremely difficult. 


A story in the April-June 1963 Civil Service Journal titled "Death of Sputnik IV: Main Street U.S.A."  describes how unlikely it is for a fragment of a falling satellite to be recovered, as "four-fifths of the earth's surface is water" and "of the one-fifth that is land, a large proportion is behind the Iron Curtain.  Then too, a large part of the Free World land is uninhabited, forested, mountainous, etc."  

Successful recovery of a satellite fragment requires first that it survive the fiery plunge through the Earth's atmosphere and then be recognized for what it was after it does impact the earth.  This nearly didn't happen with Sputnik IV - as the two Manitowoc Policemen credited with the discovery in 1964 initially believed the item to be scrap metal from a local foundry and simply moved the 20-pound chunk of metal to the curb to keep it out of traffic. 

I wonder what odds Ladbrokes would give for a satellite fragment landing in Manitowoc Wisconsin - nearly on the center line of a street running right past a musuem? 

Sputnikfest.  Defy the odds.  Join us on on September 6, 2014.  Planet Terry

Sunday, February 16, 2014

SPINDRIFT SPRAY PAINT ART AT SPUTNIKFEST 2014!

Sputnikfest always features a unique assortment of vendors - and I'd like to introduce you to
someone we have lined up for this year - Spindrift Spray Paint Art by Steven Baughman.

Steven says he has been "into art since I could hold my first Crayola Crayon."   He has a Bachelor of Arts Degree from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, and has studied traditional oil/acrylic painting, drawing, art history and commercial art.  Steven has held many different positions in the commercial art arena, but says most of that stuff is done on computers these days and he enjoys “getting my hands dirty” with his current spray paint venture.
Steven still finds it "cool and amazing" that "people seem to like my
paintings" - and pay money for them!  He tries to keep his prices reasonable "none of those $700, $800, $900 paintings you might see at other art shows" - most of his stuff is in the $50-$60 range for finished matted and framed pieces.  (very cool!)

He sells unframed pieces for a little as $25, hand-painted greeting cards for $5, bookmarks for $3, and hand-painted paperweights he calls “Moon Rocks” for $5 - $8 each.  A pretty good deal considering that all his works are originals - he doesn't do any copies or prints. 

Steven enjoys painting a variety of different subjects, but admits to being "a bit of a sy-fy space geek" and being inspired by classic movies like Forbidden Planet, When Worlds Collide, Earth Vs. The Flying Saucers, The Time Machine, and War Of The Worlds.  Great stuff!  

Steven is looking forward to his first Sputnikfest.  I asked him the standard Sputnikfest interview question: "Where were you in ’62?"  He says he was a 7 year old kid living in Toledo, Ohio.   His parents tell him he was born there, but he secretly suspects he was born in California, abducted by space aliens, and transported to Toledo. 


Make plans now to check out Steven's artwork at this year's Sputnikfest - and keep checking back here for more details on this year's event!  Planet Terry

Sunday, February 9, 2014


YES - Plans are underway for the Seventh Annual Sputnikfest!  Check back here in the coming weeks for details on this year's event.  The Sputnikfest event organizers have had a couple meetings already and things are starting to shape up.  And there will be some changes this year!  I'll share with you here in coming weeks just what those changes will be.  We can promise you something that won't change - this year's Sputnikfest will once again be Wacky Tacky Fun!  More details to follow - Planet Terry