Neighborhood Spotlight: Everything You Need To Know About Sun Prairie, WI
Sun Prairie is the second-largest town in Dane County (second only to Madison proper). This bustling suburb is located northeast of downtown, not far from the airport.
Sun Prairie is famous for being the “Groundhog Capital of the World”. Sun Prairie’s own “Jimmy the Groundhog” is well-known in meteorological networks. He has a high accuracy rate every year on February 2nd. With Wisconsin’s harsh winters, Sun Prairie residents hope for Jimmy to give them the good news. Ground Hog Day events in Sun Prairie have been archived every year since 1886.
2015 was an especially memorable year. The town gathered to watch Jimmy see his shadow… but Jimmy was grumpy. He ended up biting the mayor’s ear! The video went viral. The nip received national media attention. And the whole nation watched as mayor Jon Freund was a good sport. The event took place in Cannery Square, in the newly revitalized downtown Sun Prairie. Cannery Square is a go-to for unique shops, dining, and retail. It’s become one of Madison’s most successful business districts.
History of Sun Prairie WI
In 1837, a group of pioneers led by Augustus A. Bird trekked across Wisconsin. They were on orders from President Martin Van Buren. to build a capital for the Territory of Wisconsin. The only problem? Spring showers were in full force. As they trekked across the plains, they saw no break in pouring rain for nine straight days. Until…they reached the borders of the prairie. The sun peeked from behind the clouds and flooded the expansive grassy plains with light. In honor of their gratefulness, Bird christened the area “Sun Prairie” and carved the name into a tree. Since then, the beautiful name has stuck for almost two centuries.
If history is your thing, you’ll be excited to learn that there is no shortage of historic buildings in Sun Prairie. You can learn all about them in detail at the Sun Prairie Historical Museum, but a few places to get excited about are:
Recreation in Sun Prairie
Stoneridge Estates Park
A well-landscaped park with playground equipment, trails, a baseball diamond, and a basketball court.
Smith’s Crossing Community Park
A 20-acre park with ponds, playground equipment, and wildlife sightings.
Carriage Hills Estates Park
A friendly neighborhood park great for sledding in the winter or pickup soccer games in the summer.
The local go-to spot for ski trails. There are 143 acres of land available for cross country skiing and mountain biking.
Wetmore Community Park
A lovely, well-maintained park with classic playground equipment and ballfields. Nice picnic facilities, ice skating, and hockey opportunities are also available.
Sun Prairie Community Life
Sun Prairie has a large school district. There are:
- Nine public elementary schools
- Three public middle schools
- Two public high schools.
The school district also offers a (voluntary) early learning program called SP4K. This program is available to help kids transition into kindergarten. It’s a play-based environment that focused on developmental skills.
The Sun Prairie School District also offers a non-traditional learning option. Prairie Phoenix Academy is a K-12 public-alternative school.