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High Cliff: Community gem gets pavilion makeover

Posted on Nov 7, 2018, by

There’s something about High Cliff State Park that makes visitors feel like they’ve entered a whole new world.

High Cliff State Park

High Cliff State Park’s Lime Kiln Trail

With its numerous stone ledges, gorgeous hiking trails and spacious amenities, the park has become a favorite spot in the Fox Valley for weddings, reunions and retreats. So when the park’s pavilion began showing its age, the Community Foundation awarded a significant grant to help.

High Cliff State Park

Updated pavilion kitchen and serving area

The pavilion was built 50 years ago, and much of the structure has been in need of repair. The grant allowed several major updates to the interior as well as the exterior of the structure. With a new caterer’s kitchen with sinks, counters, electrical upgrades, new nonslip floors and new windows and doors, the pavilion is better able to host and serve High Cliff visitors.

“Normally we get about 85 events books from summer through fall. We completed this project in early June, and we’ve had at least that many in our pavilion,” says Char Barribeau, Friends of High Cliff State Park.

A gift and a legacy

High Cliff State Park

New rain gutters, doors and windows

The Community Foundation awarded a grant of $50,000.00 to Friends of High Cliff State Park from the David L. and Rita E. Nelson Family Fund designated to upgrade the upper pavilion and to support a part-time stewardship coordinator position. David Nelson’s father was involved in the acquisition of the park.

“We are so grateful to the Nelson Family for their generous grant.  It has allowed our volunteer group to update the 50 year old pavilion, which is used extensively from spring through late fall for picnics, reunions, weddings, school events and business retreats,” says Barribeau. “The updates in the pavilion not only enhance the park, but has made the building a wonderful place for a variety of events for the Fox Valley community.”

High Cliff State ParkThe late David and Rita Nelson of De Pere stunned the Fox Valley community a few months ago by leaving the Community Foundation a $100 million estate gift – one of the largest in Wisconsin’s history. The fund will benefit the couple’s charitable interests, including parks, recreation and waterways.  You can read more about their story here.

Rich recreational history

The park itself is 55 years old, but historical records show that people from all over the world have been enjoying the beautiful woods, cliffs and beaches since 1855. The Wisconsin Department of Tourism recently named High Cliff State Park as one of the Seven Natural Wonders in Wisconsin, as a place where people can experience the beauty and wonders of nature, relax and enjoy the many outdoor recreational activities.

Evidence of the Niagara Escarpment

The 1,187-acre park located near Sherwood on Lake Winnebago got its name from cliffs of the Niagara Escarpment, a land formation east of the shore of Lake Winnebago that stretches north through northeast Wisconsin, Upper Michigan, and Ontario to Niagara Falls and New York State.


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