The Friends of Aztalan State Park is pleased to announce that Elizabeth Parker, a resident of Lake Koskonong, is offering a limited-time matching donation to the group to help in its fund raising efforts for a much needed visitor and interpretive center at Aztalan – the famous 900 year old archaeological site and state park that is a National Historic Landmark located just east of Lake Mills. A dollar for dollar donation will be made from the Trust of George S. Parker II of Janesville for money raised by the Friends group though December 15, 2012.

The unique ancient American Indian town of Aztalan currently draws many thousands of visitors from the region as well as from other states and foreign countries. In addition, the park is a popular field trip destination for school groups from throughout southern Wisconsin studying Native American history. The construction of a much needed visitor and interpretive center is part of the Department Natural Resources master plan for the park. As planned, the proposed center will include large display areas interpreting the site and highlighting key artifacts found at Aztalan. a classroom for schoolchildren engaged in special activities relating to Native American history, a theater, and work space for on-going archaeological research that continues to add knowledge about this large and unique site.

Professional studies predict that a first class center will attract tens of thousands of new visitors to the park as a destination and this will be boon to the Jefferson County area economy as visitors use restaurants, lodgings, and many other services, and use the opportunity to visit other historic and interesting places in Jefferson County.The park is already attracting tour buses from throughout the country – one this summer from St. Louis carrying a large group from northern England – and many of these are stopping in area communities as part of the tours. The planned facility will be a major venue for the promotion of Jefferson County tourism.

Construction of the building is contingent on a substantial amount of private donations and the Friends of Aztalan State Park has been raising money for this purpose as a major goal of the organization. Presently the group operates a small, temporary visitor center at a office trailer at the park. The board of the Friends of Aztalan State Park has set a goal of $50,000 for this special fund raising effort to be matched by $50,000 from the Parker Trust for a total of $100,000. Those interested in making a contribution can use the attached form and send it to Visitor Center Fund, Friends of Aztalan State Park, PO Box 855 Lake Mills, WI 53551.

Jennifer Erdman is a Freelance Graphic Designer and Photographer. She works with the Jefferson County Tourism Council on their annual Official Guide.