Inspire(d) Spring 2019

Page 1


NO. 57 SPRING 2019




s d e e s THE




Dorian Choral Retreat

• Friday, June 28–Sunday, June 30, 2019 • Open to anyone, age 19 and up

• Primary conductor Andrew Last ’97, director of choral activities at Luther College, with guest speakers and clinicians

Learn more at:


JUNE 21-23, 2019

Ring in the 2019 Summer Solstice Weekend at the inaugural Driftless Yoga Festival! Explore the beauty of the region through yoga-inspired workshops & events, showcasing talented yoga teachers & great Driftless spaces.

DECORAH. IOWA. DRIFTLESS. 3 amazing days of sun salutations, meditation, workshops, asanas, & more.

Register at

Can’t wait to see you there! Psst...early bird pricing ends May 1st!

SPRING 2019 contents

what we’re loving right now


events + calendars


Q&A with Mollie B.


Driftless folk schools


let’s love the earth!


paper project: earth seed hearts


puentes / bridges


how to make friends as an adult


sum of your business: night dive swim


spring fever - get out of the house!


week of the young child


la crosse promise


Probit: bob mcqueen




...and more! ON THE COVER:


These seeds (mostly marigolds saved from last fall) became part of the paper project Roxie and I put together for this issue (Earth Seed Hearts). This issue is all about planting the seeds of hope for the future! Photo by Aryn Henning Nichols


Why bank Decorah? Because we’re the kind of bank you’d tell your friends about at lunch. The kind of bank that celebrates your successes. Because when you choose us, you’re choosing: A bank that fits your life, not the other way around. A connection with your banker that creates a powerful asset to your financial life. A new online and digital platform to keep your finances running effectively.

Photograph by Randy Haugen

It’s Plant Season!

Visitors Center - opens March 1 Heirloom Plant Sale - Saturday, May 4 Shop vegetables, herbs, flowers, and more! | 3074 North Winn Rd, Decorah, IA | Open Daily 10am-5pm, March-October

From the Editor


don’t know about you, but around this time of year (when I’m making the Spring Inspire(d), I suppose), I find myself thinking, “Thank freakin’ goodness; we’ve made it!” Spring! Of course, there’s currently a blizzard outside. And there could be false spring or third winter or whatever we got last April (let’s hope not)! But I’ve got my fingers crossed for some spring-like weather, crocuses, daffodils, and open windows soon! In the meantime, enjoy these pages of fun, positivity, and springtime vibes! We’re all about planting seeds of change with this Inspire(d). We hope to teach our kids empathy, kindness, and compassion, for starters, so that they can create a better future for themselves. This is one of the motivators behind Week of the Young Child, a national movement dedicated to spotlighting our youngest learners – learn more about local efforts in Sara Friedl-Putnam’s story on page 54. In Maggie Sonnek’s piece about Puentes / Bridges, a Wisconsin non-profit that works to bridge the cultural gap between area farmers and their employees from Mexico, compassion and empathy are big components (pg. 34). It’s such a cool program! Speaking of cool programs, you should definitely check out Sara Walters’ story on La Crosse Promise (pg. 58) – they offer a scholarship – up to $50,000 – to homeowners/buyers who are willing to invest in select challenged neighborhoods in La Crosse. It’s truly an innovative approach to neighborhood revitalization. We love the self-love that Heather Caye Brown promotes through her swimwear company, Night Dive Swim, and in this Spring’s Sum of Your Business. What better message to share with our kids than to Love Your Self?! As for the literal seeds on the cover: You can use those for the Paper Earth Hearts Roxie and I made for this issue’s paper project (pg. 33)! We put them together on one of the many January snow days, and are thinking they’ll make great Earth Day presents for friends and neighbors this April. Make sure not to miss Benji’s fun Q&A with polka music star Mollie B. (she’s performing in Spring Grove this May), my infographic, “How to Make Friends as an Adult” (it’s not as tricky as you think!), and a great line-up of fun events to cure your Spring Fever this year! Thinking you need something a little more in-depth to get you out of the house? Consider signing up for a class at one of the great Folk Schools in the Driftless! Learn about offerings from Driftless Folk School, Eagle Bluff Skills School, and Vesterheim Folk Art School in Kristine Jepsen’s story on page 19. We’ve got plenty more, too, to help keep you entertained until the snow melts and the seeds start sprouting! Let’s hear it for SPRING, friends! Looking forward,

Aryn Henning Nichols

What’s it mean?

Inspire(d) Inspire(d) – pronounced in-spy-erd... you know: inspired – stands for both inspire and be inspired. The idea is that person one inspires person two. That person is now inspired. Then that person inspires person three (or person one again), who is now inspired. Then the cycle continues! That’s what those arrows around the (d) are about! And our mission is, ultimately, to change the world… starting with our own community!

Who are we? Co-founders:

Aryn Henning Nichols / editor & designer Benji Nichols / writer & advertising sales (& husband, distributor, logistics)

We couldn’t do it without: Kristine Jepsen / contributor Maggie Sonnek/ contributor Sara Walters / contributor Sara Friedl-Putnam / contributor Inspire(d) Magazine is published quarterly by Inspire(d) Media, LLC, 412 Oak Street, Decorah, Iowa, 52101. This issue is dated Spring 2019, issue 57, volume 12. Copyright 2019 by Inspire(d) Magazine.

support inspire(d) Although Inspire(d) is free on stands, you can have it sent to your door (or extended family!) for only $25/year. Email for a membership or visit for more info. Write inspire(d) Want to make a comment about something you read in the magazine? Email Interested in advertising? Contact Benji at or call 563-379-6315. Visit our website: 05

What We’re


right now

A little list of what we think is awesome in the Drifltess Region this SPRING...

La Crosse Children’s Museum – XOXO An Exhibit About Love & Forgiveness “We all know that children are our future. To build a better future, we must raise a generation of human rights defenders with compassion, respect, kindness, and forgiveness.” – a quote from a traveling exhibit called “XOXO: Love & Forgiveness,” found at The La Crosse Children’s Museum through May 26, 2019. This special traveling exhibit was created by the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh with support from The Fetzer Institute, which works to foster awareness of the power of love and forgiveness in the emerging global economy. The exhibit, included with La Crosse Children’s Museum admission or membership, showcases interactive stations including: Holding Hands, Empathy Blocks, Story Puzzle, Balance, Silhouettes, Release the Negative, Tokens of Love, Response Walls, Tone Phones, Phone Booths, a Reflection Table, and an Art Making Station. This awesome exhibit – alongside all of the other entertaining regular features of the La Crosse Children’s Museum – makes this an easy stop for any family with younger kids. The Museum also turns 20 this year (2019), so keep an eye out for more fun events happening – or even consider a membership to help celebrate!

Vesterheim Ideas Lab


The Vesterheim Norwegian American Museum in Decorah is offering a fun exhibit called ‘Museum Lab’. This innovative project invites visitors to shape Vesterheim’s future by testing new exhibits, tours, classes, and programs in their early stages of development. The Lab showcases ideas for everything from Vesterheim displays to restaurant possibilities, and it gives fun interactive chances for all ages to test them out – even put ink to (mannequin) skin! The Museum Lab will be constantly updated and changed over the year, so it could be different each visit. Don’t be shy in stopping by to see what’s being featured at any given time – and across the museum!

Dance & Theatre



MARCH 15 & 16 – 7:30 PM MARCH 16 & 17 –1:30 PM


APRIL 5 – 7:30 PM APRIL 6 & 7 – 1:30 PM


MAY 9 & 10 – 7:30 PM MAY 11 – 1:30 & 7:30 PM

Mark your calendars for these spring shows! Details online at 06

Spring 2019 /

Driftless Yoga Festival This June 21-23 will mark the firstever Driftless Yoga Festival – a gathering of yoga-minded folks across the region in and near Decorah! The idea is to offer a weekend to help share the many yoga-inspired activities, talented teachers, and cool spaces available in our region. From sun salutations at Luna Valley Farm, to opportunities to ride the #TroutRunTrail followed by yoga in the park…or expand your lungs on a hike to a serene area where you’ll practice yoga under the sun! Plus, Saturday morning meditation, workshops on pranayama and introduction to acro yoga, and more! Class information will be available before the event, but options for all levels and abilities will be offered in locations around the Decorah area. Come join in the fun! The full schedule and registration are available at!

Fly Fishing Film Tour There are many things the Driftless is famous for – and the coldwater trout streams that thread through our region are one of the biggest! Anglers search out these beautiful little corners of the world from near and far, just for the chance of tight lines and beautiful fish. Each year anglers of all ages gather in big cities and small towns alike – with locations in South Africa and the UK and across the US – to take in worldclass fly fishing films from across the world. A dedicated group of local anglers and guides have worked to land the Fly Fishing Film Tour here in Eastern Iowa. The Fly Fishing Film Tour local stop will be Sunday, March 31 at Big Grove Brewery in Iowa City, from 2-5 pm. In its 13th annual lap around the globe, the 2019 Fly Fishing Film Tour films will venture from Australia to South Dakota. Chase Trout, Tarpon, Bonefish and all kinds of exotic species, plus more familiar ones too. Make sure you check out Kio Kio, the latest movie by Costa. More information at Make sure to check ahead as past years events have sold out in advance!


Wonderful, wild


stival at MARCH 31 & APRIL 7: Maple Fe ia Greens’ Sugar Bush, rural Castal t, Decorah

April 5-7: Women’s Weekend Ou

enhouse Tour April 26-28: Northeast Iowa Gre untain Bike Race

April 27: Decorah Time Trials Mo

rket Opens

May 1: Winneshiek Farmers’ Ma

rheim, Decorah

May 17: Syttende Mai at Veste

Planning a visit to Winneshiek County?

Discover more at Request a guide today!\563-382-3990 07 Spring 2019

ReeCover Fridays 5:30 pm

What We’re

A healthy happy hour!


• 20 minutes recovery ride • 20 minutes Slow Flow Yoga • 20 minutes Restorative Yoga

right now

A little list of what we think is awesome in the Drifltess Region this SPRING... Center Stage Series – Ukelele Orchestra of Great Britain

New? Try 2 weeks of unlimited classes for $30! View all our classes & sign up at • 105 Railroad Ave, Decorah


Spring 2019 /

The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain is a group of all-singing, all-strumming Ukulele players, using instruments bought with loose change – and they’re coming to Decorah Friday, April 12, 2019 as part of the Luther College Center Stage Series! And we love ukuleles! The Orchestra was formed in 1985 as a bit of fun, but the first gig was an instant sell-out, and they’ve been performing ever since. By 1988 they had released an LP, appeared on BBC TV, played at WOMAD, and recorded a BBC Radio 1 session. The current ensemble has been playing together for more than two decades, and has become something of a national institution. Over the last 29 years, the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain has spawned hundreds of imitators, and you can now find Ukulele Groups in nearly every major city – indeed, the Orchestra is often said to have caused the current ukulele revival that is sweeping the globe! The Ukulele Orchestra’s music has been used in films, plays, and commercials, and film clips of the Orchestra’s live concerts and TV appearances have been watched millions of times on websites and YouTube. Collaborators have included Madness, David Arnold, The British Film Institute, The Ministry of Sound, Yusuf Islam (aka Cat Stevens) and The Kaiser Chiefs. Don’t miss this great show – tickets available at or 563-387-1357.

Springtime is for CSAs and the 2019 DFG! Spring is (so, so close to being) here, and that means it’s time for CSAs – Community Supported Agriculture. Have you signed up for yours yet? You get a box (or bag) of delicious produce, information on how to prepare it, and get to know your farmer a little better too. Got a favorite booth at the Farmers Market? See if they offer this fun option for getting yourself a locally grown present each week, or month, depending on the type of CSA you pick. Speaking of that, did you know there are local CSAs available for things like flower bouquets, or meat and baked goods? Yes, please! We love the idea of local farmers thinking outside the box (or inside the CSA box, in this case), and we love supporting our fellow entrepreneurs in new and exciting ways. Check out what’s available near you this spring, and make sure to pick up the 2019 Driftless Food Guide (available in May) to learn more about the Driftless farmers, producers, restaurants, and other food-related businesses that help make our region so amazing – and tasty!

Empty Nest Winery

Spring Hours: Sat. 10-5 & Sun 1-5 Hot Food Buffet May through October – Friday nights 5-8 pm & Saturdays 11-2 pm. Menu at or Facebook

Upcoming Events March 2: Love Potion Wine Release March 16 & 17: St. Patrick’s Party April 5: Murder Mystery Dinner Theater

Like us for details!

Wine Fresh Sangria Slushies 10 Taps of Hard Ciders & Craft Beer

Outside & Inside seating! Great Venue for your next event!

Tickets online at April 6: Release Candlelight Ice wine April 27: Wine Trail Poker Run May 3: First Friday open! El Caminos playing May 3: Simplicity Wine Release May 12: Mothers Day Brunch Tickets online at May 24-27: Memorial Weekend Luau Party Friday 4-9 pm; Sat-Sun- Monday 11am -5 pm Hot food buffet served all 4 days May 26: Live Music on the Patio 1-5pm • 563-568-2758

1253 Apple Rd. Waukon, Iowa

Looking for more details about events on the calendars? Check out these great spring activities! In chronological order, each event’s number coincides with its number on the calendar!

EVERYTHING FROM JEANS TO SUITS! Extended hours! 130 W. Water St. Decorah, Iowa 563.382.5761

M, T, W, F 9-6 Thursday 9-8 Saturday 9-5 Sunday 12-4

Saturday, April 6

1. March 16: Kinderfolk on stage: Enjoy live performances, appetizers, and cash bar at The Cellar, 7 p.m. Free-will donations will support Kinderhaus Preschool – ALL ARE WELCOME! 2. March 21-31 – Commonweal Theatre in Lanesboro launches it’s Wealhouse series with Bakersfield Mist, a hilarious and provocative comedy featuring Hal Cropp and Adrienne Sweeney. Nightly, March 21-31, St. Mane Theater – 3. March 23: SOAR! (Save Our Avian Resources) – Decorah Public Library, 11 am. A LIVE raptor program for children of all ages about the amazing adaptations of local raptors and their role in the environment. Pre-registration required at



Monday: Closed Sat: 10-5 Tue-Fri: 10-6 Sun: 10-2

MOVING THIS SPRING: Find us at 118 E Water St, Decorah




4. March 23: Make a day of Lanesboro! Art Making Crawl Downtown 11am-3pm, and Lanesboro Arts ‘Canvas Clash’, a Live Painting Tournament with craft beer and more. Commonweal Events Hall, 9pm

25W/ $25B

5. March 29 & 30 or April 12 &13: Seed Savers Apple Grafting School. Graft and take home three apple trees in a half-day Seed Savers Exchange workshop. $60. Register in advance at

6. April 11: The Queen of Bluegrass Rhonda Vincent plays Potter Auditorium, Chatfield Center for the Arts. $29-39 in advance, $+5 at the door. Concert at 7:30pm. 7. April 12: Volunteer Fair. Hotel Winneshiek ballroom, Decorah. 2 to 6 p.m. Learn about volunteer opportunities. No obligation. Volunteering enhances quality of life! or 563-277-5181 8. April 27: Decorah Time Trials Mtn. Bike Race! Since 1990! Long / Short / Kids Courses on technical single track. Entry $30.00 day of - proceeds to park projects. Info: Richard (Deke) Gosen (319) 3820421 / rgosen@gmail .com or 9. April 27: Ocean Odyssey: Rays! At the Decorah Public Library (Presented by the National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium) at 11 am & 1 pm. A family program, with touch tank, about the unique adaptations of rays and the role they play in the environment. Pre-registration is required at 118 Washington St. Decorah, Iowa . 563.419.3141 10

Spring 2019 /

Events continued on next page

fun stuff to do




March 17: Intertwine, Vesterheim, 2-4pm


Eilen Jewell Band, CSPS, Cedar Rapids

March 12: The Infamous Stringdusters, Englert, Iowa City






Ice Caves Exploration, KVR, La Farge

Pat Donohue & the Prairie All Stars, Chatfield CFA


Sam Bush, Englert, Iowa City


March 14: “Growing Older w/out Growing Up: The Parrothead Life”, Marv Slind, Luther Mott Room, 3pm

Luther Center Stage, CFL, 7:30pm

14 Goitse,

7 Vesterheim

1 Kinderfolk On Stage, Kinderhaus Fundraiser, Courtyard & Cellar, Decorah 7pm


Over the 8 9 Back Fence, Whitesidewalls, Museum Free St. Mane, Cresco Opera First Thursday Lanesboro, House, 7 pm 7:30pm Keith Hall, Mason Ragamala: Guest Jazz Jennings, Artist, Luther Sacred Earth, Cavalier, La Chatfield CFA, CFL Recital Crosse, 8pm 7pm Hall 7:30

March 8-10: Canoecopia, Paddlesports Expo, Portage, WI



March 15-31: “in a word”, Lauren Yee, Commonweal

Dog Tales, Decorah Lib. 6:30-7:15pm


3 23 21 “Spitting22 Kirk Larsen, SOAR Save Our Image” Entomologist, Avian Resources Group Show Porter House DPL, 11am Lecture, 7:30pm Meet & Greet, 4 Lanesboro Arts, Lanesboro Arts 5-7pm March 21-24 & 28-31: Spring Into Art! - Lanesboro Canvas Clash! March 21-31: Bakersfield Mist, Commonweal Live Painting 2 “Wealhouse” series, St. Mane, Lanesboro Tournament

Decorah YP w/ Mayor Lorraine Borowski, Pulpit Rock Brewing, 5:15pm March 15 -17: “Appropriate”, Luther Theater Performances, Jewel Theatre, CFA

Michael Zahs, film historian, Porter House Lecture Series, Decorah, 7:30pm FREE


“Finding the Hjemland” Paideia Lecture, Dr. Kate Elliot, Luther CFL 7pm


March 16: Motor Mill 5K Trail Run, 9am, Rural Elkader, IA



MARCH 9: • Joe & Vicki Price w/ Mike Munson, Leo & Leona’s, Bangor, WI • Mid West Music Fest Beer Tasting & Auction, Winona Co. Historical Society, 7pm • Woodshed Reboot (band), PIVO Brewery, 7pm


25 26 24 27 29 Morel 30 28 Vesterheim March 24: St. Paul & The International Preschool Story Lou Shields, Mushroom Scandinavian Mollie B w/ Jim Broken Bones, Culture Time, DPL, High Court Certification Music Jam, Busta Band, Englert, Night, UIU, 3:30pm Pub, Lanesboro Workshop, 1-3pm Waucoma Iowa City Fayette, 6pm March 29: Codfish Hollow ISU Extension, 31 Event Center, Barnstormers Roof Fundraiser, Ames, 2-5pm Maple 2-6pm Festival, Greens’ Smokestack Studios, Dubuque Sugar Bush, March 31: 2019 Fly Fishing Film Tour, 5 March 29-30: Seed Savers Apple Grafting School rural Castalia Big Grove Brewery, Iowa City, 2pm

Mike Mcabee, Spring Ave Pub, Waukon

Waukon, IA St. Patrick’s Day Parade


KDEC Home, Sport, & Garden Show, DHS, 10am-3pm


Waukon Wedding Showcase, Banquet Center, 1-3pm


Anna Metcalfe: Upstream, through May 5, MN Marine Art Museum, Winona

XOXO An Exhibit About Love & Forgiveness – through May 26, La Crosse Children’s Museum


March 1






4 Vesterheim


April 5-7 & 11-13: “It Runs In The Family”, Elkader Opera House Friday



APRIL 6: • Morel Mushroom Certification Workshop, ISU Extension, Ames, 2-5pm • Breakfast in a Victorian Kitchen, Villa Louis, Prairie du Chien • Patricia Buckley: Evolution, Luther Center Stage Series, CFL, 7:30pm

Minnesota State Band, Chatfield CFA


Neko Case, Englert, Iowa City



Happy Earth Day!

Allman Betts Band, Englert, Iowa City








The Slamming Doors, The Haymarket

Todd Oliver Ventriloquist, Cresco Opera House, 7 pm

APRIL 27: • Zorongo Flamenco Dance Theatre, St. Mane, Lanesboro, 7:30pm • Spring Fling, Kickapoo Valley Reserve, La Farge, WI • Todd Snider, Cavalier Theater, La Crosse

8 26 27 April 26-28: Decorah Time Bluff Country Trials Mountain Artists’ Bike Race Studio Tour 9 April 27-28: Iowa Wine Trail Ocean Odyssey: Rays – Touch ‘Poker Run’, 10am-7pm Tank! DPL, April 26-28: Northeast 11am & 1pm Iowa Greenhouse Tour


Son Volt, Cavalier, La Crosse

Old Wolves, APRIL 13: April 18 & 25: Driftless Books • UIU Carnival & Music NewBo Market & Vendor Fair, Viroqua Happier Hour, 10am Cedar Rapids, • Dekorra, 6-8pm Trempealeau Hotel, 7pm

Louis Comfort Tiffany: Treasure from the Driehaus Collection, through May 19, Figge Art Museum, Davenport





7 12 6 11 RSVP Volunteer Rhonda Decorah YP Fair, Hotel Vincent & w/ WMC’s Winn, 2-6pm the Rage, Laurie The Ukelele Chatfield CFA Bulman, Orchestra of Pulpit Rock Great Britain, Brewing, 5 April 12-13: Seed Savers Luther Center Apple Grafting School 5:15pm Stage, 7:30pm


Barnetimen Vesterheim, 10am APRIL 11: • Scott Leddy, Nature Photographer, Porter House Lecture Series, 7:30pm FREE • Spirits & Songwriters, w/ Joe & Vicki Price, La Crosse Distilling Co, 8pm


April 4: MWMF Presents: Bad Bad Habits / Bathtub Gin / Con Davison, Root Note, La Crosse, 7:30pm


April 23: OWLS /Older, Wiser, Livelier Souls, Osborne, Elkader, 11am APRIL 12: • Over the Back Fence, St. Mane, 7:30pm • Nordic Fiddlers Bloc Trio, Bethania, Vesterheim, 7pm • Jeffrey Focault, Masonic Lodge, Viroqua • Eggen & Hippen EP Release, Decorah • “Adult Recess” La Crosse Children’s Museum, 6-9pm


Peter Mulvey, CSPS, Cedar Rapids


Maple Festival at Greens’ Sugar Bush, rural Castalia


ArtHaus 5 6 “Holmes & Reina del Emerging ChickFest, April 5-7: April 5 – May Free First Watson” Artist Exhibit Charles City Cid, Eds, One Act Play Thursday Opening, opens April 5, 10: ArtHaus Winona 8pm Festival, Luther Emerging 7-9pm Commonweal, Mike Mcabee, Dance and Artist Exhibit Jenny Lewis, Ghostland Lanesboro Pulpit Rock April 5-7: Theatre, Jewel Englert, Decorah Radio, Brewing, Women’s Theatre Iowa City Haymarket, Decorah, 5-7pm Weekend Out, Decorah April 2-7: Mission Creek Festival, Iowa City Decorah




fun stuff to do






2 30 Years of





MAY 2: • Mike Mcabee, Pulpit Rock Brewing, Decorah, 5-7pm • The Tallest Man on Earth, Englert, Iowa City Friday




Group Mtn. Bike rides May-August: First Wednesday of the month & First Sunday of the month. Details at



Boeing Boeing Opens, Commonweal, Lanesboro



Cellar, 7-11pm

Vesterheim May 20: Scandinavian Aryn’s Music Jam, Birthday! Decorah, 1-3pm May 26: Joe & Vicki Benji’s Price, Courtyard & Birthday!






MAY 17: • Vesterheim Syttende Mai • Larry Long’s American Root’s Revue, St. Mane, 7:30pm • Mike McAbee, Haymarket



24 25



MAY 18: • Spring Grove Syttende Mai / Running w/ My Gnomies Half Marathon • Spring Grove Musikk Fest w/ Tyler Farr, Mark Chestnutt & Kimberly Dun • David Bromberg & Loudon Wainwright III, Englert, Iowa City



Deja Vu: Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young Celebration, Chatfield CFA


COMING UP JUNE 1: June 1: Discover Driftless • 12th Annual Tour di Pepin Bike Ride 17 Trail Run 5/10/25/50K • The Other Brothers, Haymarket, Decorah Trail Race! Decorah JUNE 1-2: Winding Roads Art Tour, Viroqua & Surrounding, 10am-5pm June 6: Decorah Municipal JUNE 6: Mike McAbee, Pulpit Rock Brewing, 5-7pm 18 Band - Lawn Chair Night, JUNE 6-9: Bonfire Music & Arts Festival, Winn Co Courthouse7 pm Driftless Music Gardens, Hillsboro, WI


MAY 11: •Mollie B w/ the Jim Busta Band & Squeezebox, Spring Grove Fest Building, 1-5pm • Music & Monarchs Festival, Founders Park, Elkader


Anna 16 15 17 Tivel, Driftless Driftless Yoga Fest, June 21-23. Ultra Mega MAY 17-18: Books and Early bird pricing before May 1. Mega Art • Rummage on the River Music, Viroqua Register at – 70 mile Garage Sale, WI Showcase, Vesterheim Luther Center Side of Mississippi Pioneer For the Arts, May 16-17: EntreFest, • Mid West Music Fest, Immersion 6-9pm Cedar Rapids La Crosse, WI Open House 4:30-6:30pm



May 9-11: What Would Love Do? Luther, Jewel Theatre


Decorah PRIDE Over the Celebration, Back Fence, Parade, Festival, May 11-12: Sweet 16 Farm Starter St. Mane, Dance 13 Plant Sale, rural Houston, MN 7:30pm

Celebrating the Sound of the Carpenters, Elkader Opera House, 7:30pm

“Newsies” runs May 10-26, La Crosse Community Theatre, Weber Center

Joe & Vicki Price, Single Speed Brewing Waterloo, 12-2pm


12 4 11 3 MAY 4: INHF Garlic Winneshiek Osborne Nature Hot Club of • ArtHaus Gala & Art Dash, Elks, Decorah, 7 pm Farmers’ Mustard Pull, Cowtown, ‘Welcome’ • Seed Savers Heirloom Plant Sale, 9am-5pm Heritage Valley, Market Chatfield Center, • Ghost Peaks, Lee David Henke, Haymarket Opens CFA, 7:30pm Rural Waukon Elkader, 5pm • Redshift Headlights, Driftless Books and Music • Big Hearts & Barrels Charity Beer Fest, Winn. Co. Fairgrounds Vesterheim, May 3-4: Vintage & Handmade Free First Market, Coon Valley, WI May 3-4: Mid West Music Fest, Winona, MN Thursday




fun stuff to do

25W/ $25B












Inspire(d) World’s Greatest Party


Date (not included in word count): Worlds Greatest Party! 7-10 pm. Inspire(d) invites you to the greatest party ever! We’ll have amazing amounts of fun! See you there!



Questions? Email

(Direct link:

See - we told you about our amazing fictional party in less than 25 words! On the visual calendar (like the one at left), your event will be listed along with a number that corresponds. People can just scan on over to the following pages to get the details!


Simple! We get an email with all your details exactly as you’d like to see them in the listing, and then we add it to the calendar!

It works like this: 1. Go to and click on the 25W/$25B sidebar box 2. Enter your information in our online form 3. Click through to PayPal to complete the transaction

Thus we’ve implemented a simple, expandable list of events for the pages following our regular calendars. Those who are planning “fun stuff to do” get a guaranteed spot on the calendar and in that event listing by purchasing “25 Words/$25 Bucks.”

We know it’s a tough racket to put on live music, activities, and special events, so we want to give you a chance to get the word out without breaking the bank.

Calendar time is always an exciting time at Inspire(d) Headquarters. “Just how much can we fit on there this month?!?” In recent years, what we had chosen for these lovely pages had been entirely editorial and subjective. We figured, hey, you like our magazine, so you’ll probably like the fun stuff to do that we pick out from around our region. But we’re running out of space and want you, our lovely readers, friends, and fellow event planners, to be able to tell us a little more about your fun.

25 Words/$25 Bucks


Looking for more details about events on the calendars? Check out these great spring activities! In chronological order, each event’s number coincides with its number on the calendar!


Feeling creative? Come see us! Art Supplies STEM Projects Nice Paper Coding & Electronics Bits

10. May 1: Winneshiek Farmers Market opens for the season! Every Saturday 8-11am, and Wednesday 3-6pm through October! Below the Oneota Coop / parking lot, Decorah. or Facebook for info 11. May 3: Western swinggypsy jazz trio Hot Club of Cowtown at Potter Auditorium, Chatfield Center for the Arts. $20-25 in advance, +$5 at the door. 7:30pm.

Maker Stuff 110 Winnebago St. Decorah • 563-382-4086 •

25W/ $25B

12. May 4: Garlic Mustard Pull: Join Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation to help restore the native woodland at Heritage Valley by removing invasive garlic mustard. All ages welcome.

13. May 11-12: Sweet 16 Farm’s Starter Plant Sale! Get your vegetable garden off to an amazing start with our lovingly, locally grown starter plants. Beautiful Houston, MN. Details –


M-F 10-15 • Sat 10-4 • Sun 12-4

563-382-4646 |


14. May 11: Decorah Pride is a celebration of our LGBTQ+ community. Parade! Festival! Dance! May 11, all day – more information at 15. May 17: Ultra Mega Mega! Spring studio open house for the Visual and Performing Arts Department at Luther College. 6-9pm in the Center for the Arts. Info - 16. May 18: Celebrate the music of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young at Potter Auditorium, Chatfield Center for the Arts. $30 in advance, +$5 at door. 7:30pm. UPCOMING: 17. June 1: RUN the CRATER 50k, 25k, 10k, 5k, 1mi., Mental Toughness Required. Kids 1mi. Free for kids 13 & under. Register at


3012 Middle Sattre Rd, Decorah, IA .

18. Decorah Municipal Band – Lawn Chair Night in front of the Winneshiek County Courthouse, 7 pm. New players welcome! E-mail

Submit your June, July, August events for the next Inspire(d) online at \ Spring 2019




Mollie B!

See you on the dance floor! Mollie B with Squeezebox and the Jim Busta Band Saturday, May 11, 2019, 1-5 pm – Spring Grove Fest Building Tickets are $15 at the door, and $12 in advance at or by calling 507-498-5070.

But wait, there’s more! • Come learn the polka-hop (and other fun dances) with Mollie B and the Squeezebox team. There will be lessons at the Spring Grove Fest Building from 11:30 to 12:30, with dance instructor Patsy Linehan. • All students 12 and under get free admission to the show, & teenagers are $5 (with a paid adult). Luther College student admission is also $5 (must present Student ID). • There will be food and drink for sale at the Fest Building.

All story photos courtesy Mollie B.


Spring 2019 /

Est. 1961

People you can trust. Quality you can depend on.



ife in the Driftless just wouldn’t be the same if it weren’t for all of the dance bands. Sunday afternoons filled with polkas, two-steps… a schottische here and there – gracefully (or maybe not so gracefully!) sliding across the well-worn wooden floors of the Upper Midwest. It would be easy to call them “old-time” dance bands, but that would be wildly inaccurate, particularly in the case of Spring Grove, Minnesota’s own Mollie Busta (aged 39!). Having grown up singing and playing – eventually more than one instrument at once – with her Dad and family in the Jim Busta Band, then leading the way through middle, high school, and Luther College music programs, Mollie has become a preeminent Polka Front-Woman on a national (and international) level. You’ll hardly know it when you meet her, as her personality radiates not only great music, but an honest and authentic love of people and the dance floor. It’s quite possible you’ve seen Mollie B with the Jim Busta Band, or Squeezebox (with her husband, Ted Lange), or on the “Mollie B Polka Party” (most recently aired on RFD-TV), or, perhaps, in the Warner Brothers movie The Mule, directed by and starring Clint Eastwood. Well, we’re here to tell you that your chance to slide across the floor is just weeks away when Mollie B, SqueezeBox, and the Jim Busta Band play the Spring Grove Fest Building, May 11, 2019 from 1-5pm. The event will help celebrate local non-profit Giants of the Earth Heritage Center’s 10-year anniversary. Inspire(d)’s Benji Nichols caught with with Mollie B. to ask a few fun questions! Read on, and mark your calendars to see her in Spring Grove this May!

I: It’s been quite a year since the release of The Mule with Clint Eastwood. Any favorite moments stemming from your musical feature and on-screen appearance? Mollie B: The premiere, itself, with Diane Wiest three seats down from me, Tim Moore two rows in front of me, Clint Eastwood and his family behind me, and Toby Keith to the right side of me, across the aisle.

Monday: 9am - 8pm Tues - Fri: 9am - 5pm Saturday: 9am - 3pm 3 goldsmiths 2 graduate gemologists 1 watchmaker 3 diamond setters

31 West Main Street Waukon, Iowa 800.932-7028 • 563.568-3661

Continued on next page \ Spring 2019


Mollie B. and Squeezebox pose with Clint Eastwood after filming their scene in the Warner Brothers movie, The Mule.


COME VISIT OUR SHOWROOM | 1813 Trout Run Road Decorah | 563-382-9360 | COME VISIT OUR SHOWROOM | 1813 Trout Run Road Decorah | 563-382-9360 |


Spring 2019 /


I: We’ve had the great fortune to watch your continued success over the past decade or two from afar, but what’s the best part of coming ‘home’ to Southeast Minnesota? Mollie B: The people – I have always loved the people, particularly my long-time friends! And the beautiful country side. I: We know you grew up in a “Polka Family”, but do you remember your first-ever polka dance, or have a specific early memory? Mollie B: I loved dancing the polka a lot more than being on stage. Yes, it was fine to make the music, but dancing to it made my heart soar!!! I was simply on Cloud Nine every time I could go to a festival, or even a dance. I didn’t realize how unique my childhood was. Easily two-thirds of my weekends growing up were at dances and festivals. I danced with my siblings, mom, polka friends, and even lots of people I didn’t know. The joy this music and dancing brought to me was simply indescribable. My favorite festival from age four until 13 was Gibbon Polka Days. It took place the last weekend of July in Gibbon, Minnesota. There were times I would arrive at the festival on a Thursday and dance every day through Sunday. It may sound a bit stretched, but I really danced for 12 hours – each day – then I’d sleep on the grounds in our tent or rented popup camper. There were up to six locations with polka music on the grounds and as soon as one band finished playing a set of polkas, my brother and I would RUN to the next location where the band was playing polkas and would dance until they finished the set of polkas, then run again. This pattern would last for 12 hours every day. Our breaks were only for food about one time a day – an ice cream cone – and for the daily 4:00 parade, in which I usually played drums or trumpet in. Continued on next page


303 W. Water St • Decorah, Iowa •563.382.4941

Hair salon + Manicures & Pedicures Facials • Makeup

Luxury salon & day spa

Purl Up & Knit for a Spell Yarn, Knitting & Fiber Art Supplies, Classes, & More! Mon– Wed : 10 am – 5 pm Fri -Sat: 10 am – 5 pm Thurs: 10 am – 8 pm Sun: 12 – 4 pm

563-517-1059 • \ Spring 2019



Gala & Art Dash

May 4, 2019 • 7 pm Elk’s Lodge Decorah

Auction• Appetizers Homemade Hat Competition To purchase tickets visit

Bluff Country Studio Art Tour of SE Minnesota

April 26-28 10-5 Visit area artists at work in their studios Tour the countryside Shop for unique art Find out more @ This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Southeast Minnesota Arts Council thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and culture heritage fund. Additional support provided by the River Arts Alliance.


Spring 2019 /

I: How did you ever discover you could play multiple instruments at the same time?!? It seems like some sort of sorcery! Mollie B: Sorcery – ha! I have never heard it called that :) In all honesty, it’s not difficult. I already was playing piano with two hands, why couldn’t I play two different instruments with two hands? So I did. Yes, when I am playing in the key of G in my left hand on the piano; my lips, breath, and fingers are playing in key of A on my trumpet, since the trumpet is a Bb instrument. It was NEVER my dad suggesting any of my music ‘craziness.” He hired me as his trumpet player when I was 11, for in his eyes, that is what the band needed. Of course, I saw things differently. When I was eight, it was my idea to play my keyboard in the band for I thought the band needed it. When I was 14, it was my idea to play sax and clarinet, again because the band needed variety. Also, when I was 14, I felt the band needed to put on more of a show, so I added a little choreography. And yes, when I was 16, I really confused my dad by bringing a keyboard with me. I told my dad to trust me when he made the comment that he hired me to play trumpet, not piano. So, I did it – I played my first gig on piano and trumpet – at the same time – when I was 16-years-old. And, the instruments kept multiplying. But I must admit, after playing three, the rest simply made sense. I: We know you spend an incredible amount of time on the road – do you have a standout location that is somewhere you are always hoping to get to (or get back to!)? Mollie B: I want to get to New Zealand someday – but I don’t need to play there. I have been told Brazil has wonderful music, and I would like to experience that. I would jump at the chance to return to the Dominican Republic with Tony Guzman and an ensemble again (I went twice with the Luther College Jazz Orchestra) And lastly, I play often in Texas, but since my first time there in 2009 – I have loved Texas. It’s like the Midwest, but warmer. And I get called ma’am and miss down there, even by perfect strangers and longtime friends. Who doesn’t love good old-fashioned manners? I: Butter, sugar, or brown sugar on your Lefse? Mollie B: Brown Sugar :)

Benji Nichols met Mollie B around 1994, thanks to the amazing Emily Engen, also from Spring Grove. Benji met Emily because of one Paul Scott, then owner of KRDI Radio in Decorah, IA - where somehow we were hired to be on-air announcers while we were in high school. Ain’t life funny? Now go dance a polka!

Something Old / Something New


Driftless folk school


Driftless folk and skills schools connect growing audiences with traditional craft BY KRISTINE JEPSEN


ave you ever held the ladle of a wooden spoon in your palm and wondered how it got from rigid grains of wood to a smooth fluid curve? Or, have you followed a spark escaping a campfire and wished you could handle fire for a living, forging metal in the flames? Or how about identifying the mushrooms you can eat in the Driftless, and those you (and your dog) should not? Luckily, the Driftless grows great skills schools for folk art, land management, and general know-how. Check out Driftless Folk School near La Farge, Wisconsin, Eagle Bluff Skills School in Lanesboro, Minnesota, and Vesterheim Folk Art School in downtown Decorah, Iowa, and take a stab at that talent you’ve always fancied. Who knows? You might come away with the handiest outcome of all: lifetime access to the growing network of Driftless skills-seekers. Continued on next page

Find yourself outside

Preston Get Hooked.

Hike. Bike. Paddle. Fish. Explore

Plan your visit today – | 507.765.2100 \ Spring 2019


Photo courtesy Driftless Folk School

Driftless Folk School (rural) La Farge, Wisconsin


Spring 2019 /

250 artists. 7 days a week. 1 gallery.

Coming to Potter Auditorium Pat Donohue & The Prairie All Stars Saturday, March 2


Friday, March 8

RHONda vincent & The Rage Thursday, April 11

Minnesota state band Sunday, April 28

hot club of cowtown


ocated on a working farm in the hills east of La Farge, Wisconsin, Driftless Folk School is as much a living organic thing as any one of its instructors or participants. Until summer 2018, its campus consisted simply of an openair shelter; now it has its own bath house and road access… fortified to withstand the flooding of its host watershed, Bear Creek. “This area is home to a lot of people who moved from cities to get back to more a traditional way of living – homesteading, back-to-the-land,” explains class registrar Erin Ford, who is well-versed in solar-powered cabin living and who previously launched sustainability programs, now industry benchmarks, at Organic Valley. “The goal was not just watching an instructor or listening to a lecture. It was always more: ‘How do we learn this, and with our kids? How do we transfer this knowledge down?’”

Friday, May 3

Deja VU: Crosby, stills, nash & Young Celebration

Saturday, May 18

Chatfield Center for the arts

405 Main St S | 507.884.7676 \ Spring 2019


Great Gifts Readings & Signings

Fantastic Selection

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Knowledgeable Staff

Open daily! 563-382-4275 • 112 West Water St. Decorah drop-ins welcome!

Molly Gallagher, instructor

beginning, continuing, & gentle yoga 110 Washingon Street. Decorah, Iowa . 319.270.4592


By “this,” Erin means hands-on homesteading and historic trade skills, such as blacksmithing, herbal medicine, horsemanship, basket weaving, and wood carving. When a course on butchering is offered, for example, everyone enrolled gets their own side of protein to work with. “Anything that has an off-grid, solar-living aspect to it – tree pruning, small-scale animal husbandry – will always be the heart of it. These are things you won’t be able to learn much about elsewhere.” An annual highlight is the Driftless Spoon Gathering, a weekendlong open-air spoon-carving retreat in September that attracts new and professional craftspeople alike. “First, it’s not a class; it’s a gathering. My first year as an organizer, I hadn’t been there 10 minutes when someone had me by the elbow, scolding, ‘Ohhh, no. Here’s a hatchet. Here’s a piece of wood. Let’s go,” Erin recounts. Soon, she found herself immersed in the group, outside, under the shade of a tree, with a comfortable current of camaraderie circulating around her. “You could move over to something more specific, a certain kind of spoon, or a technique, or you could just focus on the wood in your hands,” she says. “It was pretty neat, even for someone who probably otherwise wouldn’t be wielding a hatchet.”

Sign up for classes: 321 W Water St. Decorah, IA • 563-387-0191 • 22

Spring 2019 /

Driftless Skills School La Farge, Wisconsin More at

Save the date: Sept 13-15 Annual Spoon Gathering Registration and coffee at 9am Demos at 10am and throughout the day Located at La Farge Village Park, La Farge, WI with overnight camping available

Photos courtesy Driftless Folk School

Iowa's #1 Destination Garden Center Offering over 40,000 plants!

50 mins north of Waterloo 30 mins south of Decorah Decorah

K&K Gardens


108 E. Wilbur St, Hawkeye, Iowa • 563.427.5373 • Open daily May - October

Eagle Bluff Skills School Lanesboro, Minnesota

Photo courtesy Eagle Bluff Skills School

Planning an event in 2019?

Business Groups • Private Parties • Weddings • & More Book one of our venues, and let us take care of the rest!

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ounded as “Root River Skills School” in 2012, community classes based at Eagle Bluff Environmental Learning Center, on the bluff above Lanesboro, Minnesota, have long included an “Amish Experience” tour of local Amish communities, along with offerings ranging from taxidermy to archery, outdoor writing retreats and food craft, like cheese-making. In all, these short courses, taught by regional expert instructors, embraced seven core topics: local food, self/wellness, farm and garden skills, handcraft, sustainable home skills, outdoor skills, and ecotours. But while ever-popular, something about the school wasn’t quite clicking, even after five years of operations, says coordinator Jennie Dieterman. Throughout 2018, Eagle Bluff looked hard at the reasons why. “We realized we need to realign our skills classes with our mission – to ‘empower people to care for the earth’ – and that meant reeling our offerings back into our niche, helping people develop ‘ecoconsciousness’ and connect to each other in that commitment.” Today, Eagle Bluff is building its class offerings around a-lacarte theme weekends that highlight forestry, prairie science, and homesteading skills, with a few legacy courses, like “Wild Edibles of the Midwest,” carried over. “We took a lot of feedback from participants and the community about what was wanted and needed here,” Jennie explains. The goal is to make Eagle Bluff the go-to learning center for working with land resources – as a homeowner, a volunteer on public lands, or a citizen scientist. So, for example, if the roar of a chainsaw gets your blood going, get into the forestry track of Eagle Bluff’s Fall Weekend in September and dive into basic chainsaw handling, among other techniques for starting or maintaining sustainable forest. You might find, though,

that you’ll leave with more than just safety chaps and a pair of goggles. “It happens every time – people are exchanging phone numbers and e-mails before they leave the first class,” says Jennie in amazement. “And I hear of people connecting across the country years afterward. That’s the feedback that tells us we are on the right track.”

Sign up for classes: Eagle Bluff Skills School Lanesboro, MN More at

Save the dates: March 9-10 Homesteading Weekend Beekeeping Fruit-tree grafting and orchard care Shitake mushroom cultivation Beginning organic gardening May 18 & 19 Wild Edibles of the Midwest How to identify, collect & prepare palatable plants & mushrooms On-site demonstration using forage collected during class September 7-8 Fall weekend Choose the forestry track or prairie track Starting or maintaining a sustainable forest or prairie

#StayAmazing DECORAH, IOWA

2041 State Hwy 9. Decorah, Iowa • Book your stay at • 563-382-8800 \ Spring 2019


Vesterheim Folk Decorah, Iowa

R.M. Granet & Company Nort h Io wa’s In t ern ational Gi f t & Antique Store

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1110 North Grand Avenue Charles City, IA 50616 Phone Number 641-220-5100




563-382-3067 DECORAH, IOWA 563-382-8406

Mike Kelly Broker. 34 yrs

Marcia Madrigral Broker-Assoc. 27 yrs

Janice Numedahl Broker-Assoc. 18 yrs

Ron Juve Agent. 45 yrs

Jayme Folkedahl Agent. 7 yrs

Teamwork from the team that works best! 26

Spring 2019 /

Gina Smith Office Asst. 18 yrs

ake the elevator (or stairs) to the third floor of the blocklong brick Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum in Decorah, and you might feel like you walked into another dimension – one where anyone you meet might have wicked talent – at weaving, painting, or the forging of metal, say – in their back pocket, like a wand from the realm of Harry Potter. That’s because with 50+ years in existence – and classes ranging from rosemaling for kids to exhibition-quality Sámi-inspired weaving and wood-carving – Vesterheim Folk Art School hums with reverence for tradition. “What sets us apart is that classes here are inspired by what you see in the museum’s collections, and part of every class is dedicated to accessing them,” says Lea Donhowe Lovelace, who took the helm of the folk school in December 2018. A former art professor and co-founder of Decorah’s community art center, ArtHaus, Lea gets a little giddy about “coming home” to museumbased art education. “My third day on the job, someone gave me the keys to the metal-working studio, and I did a mini freak-out,” she explains with a grin. “What they didn’t know is that I nearly enrolled in blacksmithing school myself, decades ago. Now, here’s my chance.” Vesterheim is renowned for hosting master teachers from Norway each July, leading up to Decorah’s annual NordicFest. Classes welcome both beginners and advanced students, who may in time submit pieces to Vesterheim’s annual National Exhibition of Folk Art in the Norwegian Tradition. Winners in each discipline accrue points

Art School presents

Americana & Brahms • Symphonic Overture: Themes from the American Spirit – a new commission by Joshua Reznicow • Lincoln Portrait – Aaron Copland • Knoxville: Summer of 1915 – Samuel Barber • Symphony No. 2 in D – Johannes Brahms

SUNDAY APRIL 28. 2:30 PM Decorah High School Auditorium 100 Claiborne Dr. Decorah, Iowa

The Oneota Valley Community Orchestra is a registered 501(c)3 non-profit community orchestra, dedicated to presenting live classical music to the residents of the Oneota Valley, to promote music education, & to provide the opportunity for amateur & professional musicians to continue a lifelong study & performance of classical music.

Thanks to our sponsor: Marion E. Jerome Foundation, Inc

Photos courtesy Vesterheim Folk Art School

Affordable Elegance

toward Vesterheim’s Gold Medalist distinction and may go on to become new Vesterheim teachers. “It’s a privilege to work with this caliber of dedicated folk artists,” says Aaron Burmeister, assistant director of programming and himself an accomplished weaver and musician. “We have the opportunity now to create intergenerational programming,” he says, including after-school classes involving youth and seniors. Continued on next page \ Spring 2019


“Or,” Lea adds, “to connect artists from other cultures who are experimenting with similar media in similar ways.” The goal, they say, is to explore form and function into the modern age, when folk arts have less to do with necessity and more with each artist’s vision. “How does artistic expression evolve?” Aaron wonders. Try one of the school’s 97 classes this year to find out.

Sign up for classes: Vesterheim Folk Art School Decorah, Iowa More at

Save the date: June 21-July 27 – National Exhibition of Folk Art in the Norwegian Tradition Disciplines include: Knifemaking Rosemaling Weaving Woodworking Have interest; will travel? Check out this amazing trip: June 20-July 2 – Heritage Tour: Explore a Thousand Years of Norway. Visit Oslo, Tønsberg, Trondheim, Røros, Garmo, Eidsvoll, Rjukan and more.


Spring 2019 /

Kristine Jepsen is a grant/writer and editor who works with small businesses in the Driftless and thoroughly enjoys its seasons and rural solitude from her farm home near Dorchester. Her first chapbook, Jaw Wiring: What You Need to Know, will be published by the journal Sweet: A Literary Confection in spring 2019. More at

Nordic Roots Concerts at Vesterheim

Bethania Church 113 N. Mill St.

$15 at the door Doors open at 7:00 p.m.

Nordic Fiddlers Bloc

Find your Scandinavian gifts at . . .

Vesterheim Museum Store Norwegian Sweaters, décor, folk-art supplies, jewelry, books, hand-crafted artwork, and more!

April 12, 2019 | 7:30 p.m. Fiddle trio from Norway, Sweden, and the Shetland Islands with a reputation for their gripping and unique blend of fiddle music.

Harald Haugaard and Antti Järvelä June 15, 2019 | 7:30 p.m. From Finland and Denmark, these sought-after musicians are known for their musical skill, lively performances, and great sense of humor.

Vesterheim Folk Art School Woodworking • Rosemaling • Fiber Arts • Jewelry Knifemaking • Metalworking • Cooking • And More! Find your way to create in 2019 in scenic Decorah, Iowa! Explore possibilities and register at


The National Norwegian-American Museum & Heritage Center

502 W. Water St., Decorah, Iowa • 563-382-9682 \ Spring 2019

Buy local

You’re supporting your neighbors, driving less, and you get a bonus if the item you’re purchasing was even produced locally!

Remember the 3 ‘R’s!


Reduce – Try buying less stuff

(or stuff with less packaging). Reuse – Can that container be reused? That bag? Be creative! Reuse everything possible. Recycle – Ask yourself “Can it be recycled?” every time you’re going to throw something away.

Try Vegan or Vegetarian for a day

Go on a Super Hero Walk

(aka collect trash in your neighborhood – need some tips? See for “How to Do a Super Hero Walk”)

Bring your own coffee mug to the café for your to-go orders! Opt out of coffee stirrers or straws.

Give or sell things

online or at a local thrift or resale store to save them from the landfill

Fresh. Local. Organic.

grocery bulk produce deli cheese meat bakery wine/beer supplements body care

Not just a corner of our store, rather the cornerstone of our business.


everyone can shop 30

Spring 2019 /

312 West Water Street • Decorah Co-op 563.382.4666 • kitchen Monday-Saturday 8:00 am-8:30 pm • Sunday 10-7 classroom

everyone welcome

no membership required

FOOD COOPErative decorah, iowa

the Earth!

Earth Day is coming up April 22, but there’s no reason you shouldn’t love the earth every day! Here are some ideas to add to your life (if you haven’t already)! Plant a tree (or many)

Walk or bike

(or other human-powered mode of transport!) instead of driving!

Get an energy audit, and make some energyefficient updates to your home. Try the Winneshiek Energy District – they can help you identify ways to save energy – and money – in your home, farm, or business! Upgrading your vehicle or buying new? Maybe go electric or hybrid?

Turn the page to see how these Earth Paper Seed Hearts turned out! Photo of Roxie’s awesome earth and hand by Aryn Henning Nichols.

Hate the hills? Try this bike!

ELECTRIC PEDAL ASSIST! Rentals available!

The harder you pedal, the more power it delivers M, W, F: 10-6 . T: Closed Th: 10-8 . Sat: 9-5 . Sun: 12-4

Free test rides!

Great for commuting! 101 College Dr. Decorah, Iowa . 563-382-8209 \ Spring 2019


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Serving Iowa, Minnesota, & Wisconsin 709 Commerce Dr. Decorah, Iowa • 563-382-9473 •

3 0 TH A N N I V E R S A R Y




here is no greater issue currently at hand than protecting our planet. Literally – and I know what literally means – nothing else will matter if we can’t live on this earth in the future! We’ve got take care of the planet. And we need to celebrate it, ‘cause it’s pretty darn amazing! Earth Day, started by Earth Day Network back in 1970, is on April 22 each year, and it’s the perfect time to take stock of what we’re doing to help our planet. Earth Day 2019 is dedicated to the campaign, “ Protect Our Species.” At, you can learn lots of great information about the campaign, but let’s start with this: “The world is facing the greatest rate of extinction since dinosaurs went extinct than 60 million years ago. Normally, between one and five species will go extinct annually. However, scientists estimate that we are now losing species at 1,000 to 10,000 times the normal rate, with multiple extinctions daily. Multiple species will disappear before we learn about them or the benefits they bring to our planet. Habitat destruction, exploitation, and climate change are driving the loss of half of the world’s wild animal population.” Earth Day Networks’ goals with this campaign are to: • Educate and raise awareness about the accelerating rate of extinction of millions of species, plus why it’s happening and what it will mean for the world. • Achieve big policy victories that will protect broad groups of species as well as individual species and their habitats. • Build and activate a global movement that embraces nature and its values. • Encourage individual actions such as adopting a plant based diet and stopping pesticide and herbicide use. The good news, according to Earth Day Network, is that the rate of extinctions can still be slowed, and many of our declining, threatened, and endangered species can still recover. We have to work together now to build a united global movement of people – consumers, voters, educators, leaders, and scientists – to demand immediate action. Learn more at



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Spring 2019 /

Looking to celebrate Earth Day here at home? Raise awareness about the importance of caring for the earth by making these Paper Seed Hearts and handing them out to your friends and neighbors! Talk about why putting this issue at the top of the priority list is important to YOU, and keep spreading the word…you never know when you might plant the seed of inspiration!


Looking for a fun way to celebrate Earth Day (and look forward to spring?) Make these adorable Earth Paper Seed Hearts!

step-by-step instructions at


Paper Project! \ Spring 2019



Spring 2019 /


Building Cultural Bridges: How an area non-profit is helping Midwestern dairy farmers build relationships with their immigrant employees from Mexico. \ Spring 2019


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ALL WEATHER IS GOOD WEATHER, WITH THE RIGHT GEAR! 406 West Water Street . Decorah, Iowa . 563.382.4103 36

Spring 2019 /

s Mike and Kris Ingvalson pack their bags and prepare for a late-winter trip from the frigid Midwest to sunny Arizona, Mike isn’t worried about leaving his large dairy farm. He has seven workers who will make sure everything goes as planned. “I have the best crew I’ve ever had working for me,” he says, speaking of his team of immigrant workers, all from one region in Mexico. “They take care of me. I never worry about the work getting done.” In fact, it was just a year ago that he took a different trip – this time to that region in Mexico. He visited one of his former employees, Adrian, and Adrian’s family. Mike and Kris own and run a secondgeneration dairy farm, Ingvalson Hilltop Farms, in the southeastern Minnesota town of Caledonia. They’re one of roughly 15 farms in western Wisconsin and southeastern Minnesota involved in Puentes/ Bridges, a nonprofit that organizes annual trips to Mexico to bridge the cultural gap between farmers and their immigrant employees. By allowing dairy farmers to meet the wives, parents, and children of their employees, connections between the two cultures are formed. This often results in employee longevity and productivity. Puentes/Bridges is based out of Fountain City, Wisconsin, a small town perched on the Mississippi about 40 miles north of La Crosse. Puentes is the Spanish word for bridges, and, living up to its name, the non-profit is all about building cultural bridges. Puentes/Bridges founder, Shaun Duvall, originally started the program in the late 1990s to help ease the language barrier between dairy farmers and their employees. At the time, she was a Spanish teacher in western Wisconsin. She is thrilled that the program has continued on, and transformed into one that’s not just closing the language gap, but building lasting relationships between farmers and employees. “It’s not rocket science,” the now-retired teacher and former Puentes/Bridges director says. “These workers want what everyone else does: A decent wage for their work and a better life for their families.” Before hiring employees, Mike handled most of the milking and farm chores by himself – until his three kids got involved with high school activities. He and Kris wanted to be present for each of their games and band concerts. Around that same time, he started milking three times a day. “I knew how to work with cows, but I was a little scared to work with people,” he says with a chuckle. “But, I knew if I didn’t hire people to help me, I’d miss my kids growing up.” Though his crew changes, Mike says every hire has exceeded his expectations. In fact, they’ve become like family, strengthened by the fact that all seven men live just yards away from the barn in a house owned by Mike.

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At left, Mike and Kris Ingvalson pose in a ‘Happy Birthday’ frame. Above, the photo and map pinpoint where Zongolica is located in Mexico, and what the region looks like. Below, Mike poses with Adrian. Photos courtesy Puentes/Bridges.

So, when Mike and Kris had the opportunity to visit former employee Adrian, they jumped at the chance. When they arrived in the small town of Zongolica, in the southern, mountainous state of Veracruz, four hours east of Mexico City, Mike was stunned. Adrian’s 4,000-square-feet home, meant for several families, was gorgeous both inside and out, he says. The most impressive part? Throughout the 10 years that Adrian worked for Mike, he deliberately and regularly sent money home to his family so they could build that house. Continued on next page

Open by appointment Tues-Sat: 563.379.7583 - 930 Division St. Cresco, IA \ Spring 2019



Check out

Small Business Development + Business Coaching Services Consultantants specializing in marketing, small business start-ups, agricultural businesses, succession planning, & more. This service is provided to Winneshiek County businesses/entrepreneurs at no cost!

But, what stuck with Mike more than the spacious, beautiful home, was a conversation he had with Adrian’s mother. “I pulled her aside and said, ‘How were you able to let your son leave when he was just a teenager? Weren’t you afraid?’ She told me that yes, she Call Stephanie to set up an appointment: 563-382-6061 was scared, but she prayed that he would be safe and would connect or to a good family.” Mike pauses. “I couldn’t believe the faith she had.” Puentes/Bridges has allowed Mike to understand the lives and • 507 W Water St, Decorah backgrounds of his employees –like Adrian – many of whom are undocumented and under the risk of detention, all for the pursuit • No fee, one-on-one consulting for a better life. • Advice from expertsworkers in finance, start-ups, marketing, Immigrant now make up an estimated 51 percent of all social media, non-profits andAccording ag-related dairy workers in the U.S. to abusinesses national survey of dairy farms*, eliminating the immigrant labor force would reduce the U.S. dairy herd by 2.1 million cows. Milk production would decrease by 48 billion pounds – as would the number of dairy farms. This would Trust in our cause retail milk prices to increase by a whopping 90 percent. personalized Mercedes Falk, the nonprofit’s current director, recently returned service when from a trip to Mexico in January 2019. She and eight others – you need a dairy farmers, community members, and one journalist – made EST. 1932 little extra help. the multi-day trek through several villages of Veracruz, meeting families of immigrant workers back home in Wisconsin. Traveling • Medication Reminder Services in a 10-passenger van driven by Stan Linder, a dairy farmer from (Many personalized options) 201 W. Water St. Stockholm, Wisconsin, the group enjoyed meals of tacos and tamales, hot coffee in homemade ceramic mugs, and authentic Decorah, Iowa • Home Medical Alert System conversations about life in both Veracruz and the Midwest. 563.382.2626 • Therapeutic Shoes w/Certified Fitter “Spending time with these families is the most important part of the trip,” Mercedes says. “It really helps farmers understand how • CPAP Cleaning Machines their employees operate.” • Kevin, R.N.MSN, is here to help Mercedes worked as a special education teacher in Milwaukee M-F 9:30am-6:00pm you select the right Home Medical before moving to rural western Wisconsin to work on a farm. Sat. 9:30am-3:00pm Equipment for any need. “I became so fascinated with growing food. But, I was disturbed that I didn’t know anything about where it came from,” she says. DAILY LIVING & MEDICAL AID PRODUCTS FOR: Eventually, she left teaching and got involved in the local food scene Living Room Bedroom Bathroom Auto Mobility in Milwaukee, working on a small farm and in a restaurant. “When I moved to Fountain City, there was a huge learning curve,” she says. “But, I became more self-sufficient and confident navigating challenges and finding solutions.” That’s when the opportunity to lead Puentes/Bridges came up.

Keeping Your Independence is Important

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Spring 2019 /

Continued on next page

At left, the mountainous region of Veracruz, as viewed from the 10-passenger van driven by Stan Linder, a dairy farmer from Stockholm, Wisconsin (pictured above rmiddle).

*The Economic Impacts of Immigrant Labor on U.S. Dairy Farms Center for North American Studies

Stan was one of nine area folks who went on a trip to Mexico in January 2019. Above right, Adrian’s 4,000-square-feet house, built as a home for several families. Throughout the 10 years

that Adrian worked for Mike Ingvalson, he deliberately and regularly sent money home to his family so they could build that house. Photos courtesy Puentes/Bridges.

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Other building lots available! Choose today and customize your home in 2019!

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Call today to learn more! 563-382-3603 \ Spring 2019




Sustainable Beautiful Efficient David J. Wadsworth • 563.419.0390 •

This Puentes/Bridges group traveled to Mexico in January 2019 to visit families of individuals that have worked on dairy farms in the Driftless area. / Photo courtesy Puentes/Bridges

John Rosenow, another dairy farmer who’s on the nonprofit’s board, and former director Shaun suggested she think about stepping up to the challenge. Now, three years later, Mercedes balances her time visiting various dairy farms where she helps with interpreting needs between farmers and their employees. Puentes/Bridges’ paradigm of fostering relationships fits so well with dairy farms, like Mike and Kris’ Ingvalson Hilltop Farm, because of their family-owned business models. “We have found that our stories are not that different,” Mercedes said in a recent interview with Wisconsin Public Radio. “We share similar hopes and dreams. Once people get the chance to know someone who looks different from them, they’re not as hesitant to reach out because they realize there are many more similarities than they would have thought.” As Mike plans to pass down the farm to the third generation – his daughter and son-in-law – he knows that with help from his employees, the legacy of hard work and integrity will continue. As for Puentes/Bridges, the journeys to Mexico to meet families of employees will also go on. “I hope we can continue nurturing these relationships,” Mercedes says. “We share a lot more than we think.”


Folkedahel Servic


We’ll take care of it! Pick up & delivery available

563-382-4010 • 563-380-5851 40

Spring 2019 /

Passionate about storytelling, Maggie has spent much of her career interviewing fascinating folks and telling their stories. When she’s not writing, she’s sipping an iced vanilla coffee or exploring the Driftless Region with her husband and three small kids.

Learn more about Puentes/Bridges: – “Wisconsin Dairy Farmers Build Bridges” – “The Houses that Milk Built”

SINCE 1856.

How to

mAke frienDs



or many of us, our relationships in life are filled by family and co-workers. At Inspire(d) HQ, we even double-down on that: We (Benji and I) are co-workers AND family. But what do you do when you want to talk about your co-workers and family?!? Ha! While that’s (mostly) a joke, having someone outside of your family circle – a friend – is a wonderful thing. But how does one go about finding said friends? Once you’re out of school, it can be a real challenge to find folks you connect with – especially in a time where more and more people are working remotely. I met my newest bestie while Roxie, Benji, and I happened to be looking for cool rocks by the Upper Iowa River last spring. Jen and her daughters were rock-hunting at the same time. I decided to say hello. And you can bet your booty I fell back on an iteration of that age-old line, “You come here often?” It doesn’t have to be original. It doesn’t have to be impressive. You just have to take the first step. And I can’t tell you how often I’ve said to Jen over the last year, “I’m so glad we met that day!”

Kerndt Brothers Bank has been serving communities since 1856. Our business was founded on a strong bond of mutual trust between the original Kerndt Brothers and the northeast Iowa area we serve. No matter if you are just starting out, opening a business, planning retirement or making a major purchase, come to the bank that has a long time reputation of service. 370 Main St., Lansing 563.538.4231 820 11th Ave. SW, Waukon 563.568.5234 801 S. Mechanic St., Decorah 563.382.2228 200 Mill St., Clermont 563.423.5267 205 N. Vine St., West Union 563.422.6072 600 Boyson Rd. NE, Cedar Rapids 319.378.8100

Turn the page for some ideas on how you can break the ice (is that a spring pun?!) and meet new people to add to your own circle. Have fun and get out there, friends! :) \ Spring 2019


How to


Don’t be afraid to ask questions. People are interesting (and love to be found interesting)!

Be curious!

w fr iend !

r ne


“You come here often?” is a totally acceptable way to start a conversation with someone in the same place as you! Seriously!

Lines aren’t just for getting dates!

Smile & make eye contact.

as an Adult


Network with folks who have kids the same age as yours, or pets that like to play with yours!

You might even meet a new friend while looking for cool rocks!

Cool clothes / shoes / bag / coat? Say so! Compliments work nearly every time to start a conversation.

Give someone a sincere compliment.

Hitting it off on the small talk? Ask them to coffee or tea!

Just be brave.

Let ’s get tea!

Can’t find a group you want to join? Make one!

Sign up for a class or a committee or volunteer. Join a trivia team or book club or exercise class.

Join a group!

You’ve got a new friend – set some dates!

Now make time!

Go to events that interest you – you’ll meet people there who, obviously, have the same interests as you!

Friends don’t have to be new to be great!

Reconnect with old friends!

Send notes in the mail to new friends and old!


207 College Drive, Decorah 563-380-3610 Open 7 Days A Week


Burgers. Sandwiches. Salads. Appetizers Great Wings. Weekend Bloody Mary Bar



2 amazing spaces. Small or large events. Delicious in-house catering.

206 W. Water St. Decorah 563-382-5970 •

Open 11am-12am daily. Kitchen open 11am-10pm.

Spring 2019





Spring 2019 /

All photos courtesy Night Dive Swim

Monday, March 4

The milk carton kids with vera sola

Thursday, March 7

Gaelic storm sponsored by micky’s pub Tuesday, march 12


The infamous stringdusters



Co-presented with gabe’s Friday, march 15


t’s springtime – or getting there, anyway – and that means swimsuits are hitting retail racks all over. It’s an, “ugh” time of year for many – me included. But when social media posts from Night Dive Swim, an online swimwear shop based out of Oelwein, Iowa, started rolling in, I wasn’t, “ugh” at all; I was inspired! And that’s kind of a rare thing with swimwear. It’s partially because of the amazing designs and sunny locales featured in Night Dive’s photos, but the biggest inspiration wasn’t even about the swimwear… it was the message behind the brand: Love yourself. Be comfortable in your body. Enjoy this life. Yes! We caught up with founder Heather Caye Brown in between trips (and late-winter snowstorms) – you might find her networking/ working in California or Miami; or home in Iowa, where she grew up; or across the world in Bali, where her eco-friendly swimwear collections and accessories are made. “It’s definitely a lot easier to be in Bali and work face-to-face with the amazing people that help make my designs and vision come to life,” Heather says. Let’s back up to that eco-friendly bit: Their entire Spring 2019 bikini collection is made of recycled fabrics, and they ship every bikini in a cute, reusable pouch made of biodegradable material. Their solid-color “swimmies”, as they call them at Night Dive, are made with VITA, a sustainable techno-fabric made of Econyl recycled nylon – recycled ghost fishing nets from the ocean! According to the Night Dive website, it is soft, hyper-resistant, and a unique mix of compression and comfort, and, because of its innovative construction, it is twice as resistant to chlorine and sunscreen compared to other swim fabrics. All of the Night Dive printed swimmies are made of REPREVE, a fabric created by transforming recycled bottles into fiber. The process embeds properties like wicking, adaptive warming and cooling, water repellency, and more at a fiber level. Cool! While you’ll find Night Dive Swim products primarily online (, they do occasional pop-up shops as well – last summer, there was one in Des Moines and one in Long Beach, California, and this past winter folks could visit with Heather and shop Night Dive at the Aerie store in Miami. “Aerie is known for not retouching or Photoshopping photos – #aeriereal – so Night Dive and what we stand for was a perfect fit,” Heather writes, with what seems to be her trademark enthusiasm. Even via email, you can feel her excitement and passion for her business. (And we are big fans of anyone who uses multiple exclamation points in multiple sentences!) We know we usually feature folks who have been running their business for several years for Sum of Your Business, but we were so inspired by Heather, we just had to share. We can’t wait to see what she does over the coming years!!!!! (< oh, yes!)

Sam Bush

mission creek festival 2019

Tuesday, March 26

St. Paul & the Broken bones

monday, april 29

neko case

with shannon shaw

sponsored by hothouse yoga & Rylan & ross Devalois of midamerica securities mgt. april 2 - 7

Mission creek festival 2019

Tuesday, april 30

allman betts band

co-presented with gabe’s thursday, may 2

presented by the englert theatre

the tallest man on earth

friday, april 5


sponsored by goosetown cafe & the tuesday agency

with jay som & good morning midnight mission creek festival 2019

saturday, May 18

saturday, april 6

hurray for the riff raff

David bromberg & loudon wainwright Iii

with elizabeth moen and nadalands mission creek festival 2019

Sunday, june 16

Lake street dive

with nicole atkins Englert summer series at big grove brewery

saturday, april 13

An evening with

leo kottke

Sponsored by artifacts

221. E. Washington St. Iowa City | | (319) 688-2653

Mark your calendars for


MARCH 9: The Whitesidewalls, 7 pm MARCH 23 & 24: Murder Mystery Dinner – “Dinner at 7, Dead by 8” APRIL 13: Todd Oliver – Ventriloquist, 7 pm JUNE 15: Dani Lin – Pyschic Medium SAVE THE DATE – AUGUST 30: Tonic Sol-Fa

Showing movies nightly at 7 pm and a Sunday matinee at 2 pm

Rent the Opera House for large events or Champlin Hall for reunions, showers & more.

Visit or call 563-547-1066 for details

Turn the page to read Heather’s super fun answers! \ Spring 2019


Name: Heather Caye Brown Age: 37 Business: Night Dive Swim Years in Business: 1 Website: 1. Tell us about the “leap” moment. When/how did you decide to jump in and become your own boss? I had been happily working in the fashion industry – designing, climbing the corporate ladder, and leading design teams for large companies the last 14 years, and I came to a point where I really wanted to do something different that I’m very passionate about – championing self-confidence and body positivity. I saw so many opportunities to be more inclusive, especially in swimwear, my favorite thing to design, and what I personally spend a lot of time in. There are swimwear companies that don’t even offer a size extra large, and most don’t show a lot of body types on their social media platforms. I wanted to show that no matter what size you are, a swimsuit is for everybody/ every BODY. Spreading that message became more enticing to me than any promotion could be, along with the freedom and new challenges and learning experiences that running my own company would bring. 2. What’s the best thing about being your own boss? The best thing about being my own boss is most definitely the freedom – both in flexibility of what hours I’m working to where I’m working from. Luckily enough, this past year of working on my collection and building my brand was able to be done from anywhere in the world – so I spent half of the year off/on in Bali – the factory producing my eco-friendly Spring collection is there – and I was able to focus on creating my website, visiting the factory and reviewing samples, and of course I made time for surfing, snorkeling, and all the amazing things Bali has to offer. The other part of the year I was able to work and spend time with family and friends in my hometown in Iowa, and that’s when I decided to have Iowa be the location for my headquarters and where I would keep inventory.


Spring 2019 /

The headquarters for a swimwear company being located in Iowa sounds a little strange, but being near family again after 18 years of living out of state, along with having those extra hands and help during the busy swim season, was irresistible. On top of that, another thing I’m passionate about is trying to build a sustainable



April 6 am Hotel Winneshiek

fashion brand, and be as eco-friendly as possible – so having a centrally located office in the US, we’re able to ship our product to our customers in the most efficient manner possible. I also love the idea of lifting up the community in any way possible – from speaking to high school students about a career in fashion and pursuing their dreams, to adding more business at the local post office.

Sponsored in part by Inspire(d) Media, Hacker, Nelson & Co., P.C., Bank of the West, & KDEC

At left – Night Dive Swim founder Heather Caye Brown. Above – Two options for Night Dive swimmies. All the printed swimmies are made of REPREVE, a fabric created by transforming recycled bottles into fiber. Photos courtesy Night Dive Swim.

Advance tickets only

Style Show Brunch

women’s weekend out


3. How about the worst? Despite the freedom, work ends up being on my mind 24/7 – yet I wouldn’t have it any other way! Besides that, another challenge I encountered was the shift of working solo versus working with a team. One of my favorite things about the last 14 years in the industry was the people on my team and who I’ve worked with. That shift from constantly working with people, bouncing ideas off of each other, and basically having a work “family” was a huge change. Thankfully enough, I still have that fashion family and friends if I ever need anything. 4. Was there ever a hurdle where you just thought, “I can’t do this?” How did you overcome it? Never! Don’t get me wrong, I’ve encountered plenty of setbacks and challenges…but I just adapt and shift. My mom taught me at a very early age to have a Plan A, B, and C. 5. Any mentors/role models you look to/have looked to? This question is tough because there are a ton of people that have inspired me…but someone who really has embodied the type of leadership I look up to is Chad Kessler, a friend of mine, and the President of American Eagle. I met Chad in 2004 when I started my first job as an assistant designer at Hollister / Abercrombie & Fitch. He was always someone who stood up for what he believed in, had your back, and was smart, savvy, and supportive. He truly demonstrated being a successful and inspiring leader. We’ve worked together in various ways since then – at Urban Outfitters, and even now, he’s as supportive as ever cheerleading on Night Dive Swim.

Breakfast Bake Fruit Kabobs Pastry Coffee & Water Bloody Marys & Mimosas available for extra charge

6. What’s the one thing you wish you had known before you started? I thought I already knew this, but it really doesn’t drive the point home until you’re living it –EVERYTHING is going to take ten times longer than expected and cost ten times more than planned. Continued on next page

Get tickets at J. Tupy’s & participating stores listed at: \ Spring 2019


7. How do you manage your life/work balance? Good question!! Since I enjoy every second of working on my company, I need to cut myself off from time to time from being so focused and engulfed in whatever I’m working on. There’s always something new I need to learn, or a new idea I want to design, so making sure to take time for a mental break or fun outside of the fashion world is something I’m constantly working on. 8. What keeps you inspired? Any quotes that keep you going? The main thing that keeps me inspired is hearing from women that Night Dive Swim is already making a difference for them. The message I’m sending with social media and my website is body positivity and self-love, and I’ve received messages from women all over the world saying how much they appreciate seeing all body types and inclusivity on our Instagram/Social media, and how it gives them confidence. These messages seriously make everything I’m doing worth every second and every dollar I’ve invested in building this brand. 9. Where do you hope Night Dive will be in five years? 10? Besides the financially successful goals for Night Dive, in five years I would love to be able to expand the size range to include even more plus sizes. We currently offer size small to extra large, and offering a broader range of sizes is actually quite expensive. My goal is to be in a place that taking on that expense is not an issue.

In 10 years, my goal for Night Dive would be to be a part of (or create) a foundation for championing body positivity and self-love. There’re so many things I want to do to give back, and I can’t wait to be in a place where Night Dive can do even more.


Welcome to


Only 30 minutes away from Decorah, this full service community offers a variety of great dining options, unique antique, furniture & gift shops, & exciting recreational opportunities. Explore Niagara Cave, tour the Amish countryside, & pedal your way through 60 miles of paved bike trail! Harmony also offers a wide array of businesses ready to meet your every need.

Catering now available!


Chef/Owner Matt Brown 121 Main Avenue N 507.886.1234


Golf Club

Open to the public daily Tuesday Ladies Day Thursday Mens Day

Carts Available

Small & Large Appliances HVAC • Plumbing Housewares • Paint Toys •Gifts

2 Main Ave North Downtown Harmony

Banquet facilities available for meetings or special events

535 4th St. NE • 507-866-5622 • From Hwy 52 N, turn east on 4th St. (Kwik Trip Corner), go 3 blocks

Amish Tours of Harmony Experience a lifestyle... Enjoy an exciting tour of Harmony’s Amish community with one of our knowledgeable guides!

Mini Bus Tours . Car Tours . Group Bus Tours . Spring thru Fall Call 507-886-2303 or 800-752-6474 .

Mon - Sat 10-5 Sun 11-4 We deliver anywhere!

Your one-stop hometown hardware store • 507-886-2323

Niagara Cave & Mini Golf Nationally recognized as one of the Top Ten Caves in the United States

On our 1-hour guided tour…

• Hike 1 mile underground to depths of 200 ft. • Discover fossils ~450 million years old • See delicate & massive cave formations • Temperature is 48° F (9°C) • Walking shoes are recommended

Also enjoy…

• Miniature Golf • Concessions • Gemstone Mining • Picnic Grounds • Unique Gifts

Check website for hours & availability

570 Main Ave N., Harmony, MN 55939 507-886-2777 •

507- 886 - 6606 29842 County Road 30 -

Harmony, MN 55939

For a FREE Visitor Guide, call 1-800-288-7153 or visit us on the web at

Got a little spring fever? Get out of the house and into the Driftless this spring! Here’s some inspiration, in case you need a nudge:


Spring in the Midwest brings many magical things, and right towards the top of that list is maple syrup season! This spring is bustling with some great opportunities to get out there and enjoy the woods and fresh (or barrel aged!) maple syrup. Could it get any sweeter?! Let’s get sappy with some Driftless syrup fun! • March 2-3: Maple Syrup Festival 2019, Hartman Reserve Nature Center, Cedar Falls, Iowa, 7 am - 1 pm • March 16: B&E’s Barrel Aged Syrup, Maple Open House, rural Cashton, Wisconsin, 1 - 5 pm • March 23: Great River Maple Fest, Garnavillo, Iowa, 8 am – 4 pm • March 31 and April 7: Greens’ Sugar Bush Syrup Festival, rural Castalia, Iowa, 10 am – 2 pm

MAPLE SYRUP st. patrick’s day Here at Inspire(d) HQ we know the Scandahoovians get a lot of love throughout the Driftless. But everyone has at least one “Irish” friend, or one that is at least willing to pretend for a day or two for St. Patrick’s Day. So get ready – there will be celebrations across the region! Kick things off at noon on Saturday, March 16 with the La Crosse 2019 St. Patrick’s Day Parade. The downtown route on 2nd Street will allow for plenty of viewing areas, with a post-parade social at the Brickhouse (5th Ave S. near Cameron Park). The fun continues on Sunday, March 17, with the Waukon St. Patrick’s Day Parade. A day full of revelry and ‘Irish Eyes a’ Smilin’ unfolds amidst Allamakee County, with the Parade rolling down Main Street at 1 pm. The fun continues in Waukon throughout the afternoon, including Mike McAbee playing at the Spring Ave Pub. Just remember one of our favorite “Irish Proverbs” and you should fare well for a day of fun: “Take the world nice and easy, and the world will take you the same…”

save the date! women’s weekend out | decorah, iowa

NEW THIS YEAR! Reserve a Swag Bag!

Register & reserve your bag at friday, saturday & sunday april 5-7, 2019

shopping • entertainment • style show & more!

See what’s happening at: or 50

Spring 2019 /


What better way than to snap out of Winter than by gathering the gals for an annual weekend of fun in Decorah?! Women’s Weekend Out hits town Saturday and Sunday April 5-7, 2019. There will be entertainment, in-store promotions, demonstrations, vintage and vendor sales, parties, door prizes and giveaways, a Style Show Brunch, shopping deals and extended hours, plus swag bags to the first 250 participants to register at www.! This is a great chance to take in all that Decorah offers – so plan ahead to make a weekend of it. Keep up with all of the fun at or by checking in with the Decorah Area Chamber of Commerce or 563-382-3990.

women’s weekend out

women’s weekend out

Bluff Country Studio Tour

Continued on next page

One of the most inspiring ways to celebrate spring is to drive through the rural roads of our region, experiencing everything from rolling pastures to limestone outcroppings, old (and new!) bridges, and small-town finds. The Bluff Country Artists’ Studio Tour gives you a chance to do exactly that – all while traveling from one artist location to another throughout Southeast Minnesota and beyond. This year’s tour runs April 26-28 from 10 am to 5 pm daily, and features more than 25 artists and galleries. These unique opportunities to see artists working in their “natural environments” are such a cool way to get a glimpse into the process of our amazing regional artists. Best of all, it’s free to visit any of the stops! Pictured here is a piece by Fountain, Minnesota mixed media artist Kelly Puent, named 2019 Emerging Artist of the Year by Bluff Country Studio Art Tour. As we’ve mentioned in past issues of Inspire(d), its smart to have a print / paper map or directions of where you are going, as there are some rural stops that may not allow your phone to guide you. Also, cash is always appreciated for purchases (although other payment options are often available) – you may find some real treasures along the way!

3 Stores in 1 Boutique Complimentary Makeovers

111 E. Water St. Decorah, Iowa. 563.382.6212

Great fashions & brands Les Wigs Renee \ Spring 2019


Iowa isn’t exactly known for mountain biking, but those who know the single track in Decorah will tell you that if you can ride in Decorah, you can ride just about anywhere! Iowa’s longest-running mountain bike event, the Decorah Time Trials, celebrates its 29th year Saturday, April 27, 2019. Richard ‘Deke’ Gosen of Oneota River Cycles has the course set and is ready to see riders young and old make their way over the river and through the woods… and over the limestone… and roots, and down the really steep hills – and up them again! This ‘race’ is not for the weak of heart, or legs – but it is an amazing chance to get out and get on the trails in early spring. Registration is the day of the race at the west end of the River Trail, across from Dunning’s Spring Park. The full course is approximately nine miles of single track, a “Spring Course” option will be available for less experienced riders (approximately half the distance of the full course), and a FREE Kids race (appx. 1.5 miles of single track) will be held before the start of the full time trials. Registration is from 11:15 am to noon, and riders will start at 1pm on one-minute intervals. More details and information at

decorah time trials mid west music fest Mid West Music Fest has become the little Midwest Rock Fest that could! 10 years of music spawned off of Sam Brown’s idea of getting a bunch of regional bands together to make some excitement in downtown Winona. The annual fest now spans two weekends and two Cities (La Crosse May 3-4 and Winona May 17-18). This fest throws over 100 bands at each weekend, giving fans a chance to see and hear music across the spectrums. 2019 headliners include Banditos, Great American Taxi, Ruby Boots, Nooky Jones, and more. But don’t just come for the headliners – Midwest favorites like Charlie Parr, De La Buena, Them Coulee Boys, Mike Munson, and many more are on the roster. Tickets start at $40 for either weekend, or a combined ticket of $75 for both weekends – a steal to see over 200 bands in our “neck of the woods”. Get out there and enjoy these amazing weekends of music!



Photography by Brittany Todd

563-382-3657 . 108 Fifth Avenue, Decorah, Iowa . 52

Spring 2019 /

Come to Decorah June 1 to “Run the Crater” for this year’s Driftless Discovery Trail Run! The beautiful off-road, single track trails of Van Peenen Memorial Park are groomed, marked, and ready – here is your chance to challenge yourself and have fun running them! There will be a 50k (register by May 30), 10k, and 5k (register up until day-of). A portion of the proceeds will be split between the Northeast Iowa Montessori School, Decorah Human Powered Trails, and the Decorah Park & Rec.

Join Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation May 4, 2019 to help restore the native woodlands at Heritage Valley by removing invasive garlic mustard! This is a great chance to not only help curb invasive species, but also see a unique and beautiful piece of land in rural Northeast Iowa. All ages welcome and encouraged – typical rugged outdoor gear and coverings suggested. Details at

mustard pull

driftless discovery trail run syttende mai

What would May be without Syttende Mai in the Driftless? Spring Grove, Minnesota, throws their Syttende Mai festival from May 18-20, with lots of fun happening, from the Blast Off Banquet Friday to many events Saturday – “Running With My Gnomies” at 8 am, the Grand Parade at Noon, and Musikk Fest w/ Tyler Farr, Mark Chesnutt and Kimberly Dunn Saturday night. And don’t miss the meatball dinner Sunday at noon! All the info and schedules are available at Westby, Wisconsin, celebrates their dandy Syttende Mai, full of Scandahoovian fun, that weekend as well – May 18-19. Don’t miss the old time music, displays, Troll Hunt, community events, rosemaling, the Big Parade on Sunday at 1:30 pm, plus food and treats galore! It’s all the best of small-town Midwest celebrating Norwegian Heritage. All the info: Vesterheim in Decorah does a one-day celebration on May 17 - with a childrens’ parade and Norwegian fun! \ Spring 2019




Spring 2019 /


Get ready for the Week of the Young Child! This April, school districts across the Driftless - and nation – will celebrate the area’s youngest learners – and emphasize the importance of early-childhood education. Join in the fun April 8-12, 2019. BY SARA FRIEDL-PUTNAM

6 ferris FOOT wheel! GIANT giraffe, dinosaur, unicorn, OH MY!



201 W. Water St. Decorah, IA 563-382-2626


aggles of young boys and girls scaled jungle-gym ladders and flew down slides. They soared in swings and sprinted down paved paths. They shouted and whispered, laughed and, yes, cried. This wasn’t just any ordinary Saturday morning at Phelps Park in Decorah, Iowa – it was Decorah’s Largest Play Date, and it was held in April 2017 as the capstone event to the Week of the Young Child, a week dedicated to spotlighting the successes of the town’s youngest learners. Play is, after all, the work of childhood. Since 1971, the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) has organized the Week of the Young Child to celebrate early learning and young children, as well as their teachers, families, and communities. For the past three years, Decorah-area preschool programs – West Side School, Nisse Preschool, Sunflower Preschool, the Northeast Iowa Montessori School, Kinderhaus, and St. Benedict Preschool – have come together to take part in the initiative, planning activities (like that fun-filled play date!) that promote early learning. The events often involve exploring music, art, and healthy foods, and are an extension of what our youngest learners experience at school each and every day. Those championing Week of the Young Child – both locally and nationally – hope it reminds folks of the importance these young people hold for our future. “If we want to change the world, we have to start with our children,” says Shanna Putnam Dibble, elementary learner advocate for the Decorah Community School District, and organizer of the Week of the Young Child activities in Decorah. “The Week of the Young Child is a time to engage and celebrate our youngest learners and their families – and also reflect on how we can better meet their needs.” Continued on next page

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Early learning doesn’t happen only at school – it continues at home, day care, and the larger community. Study after study has confirmed that profound advances take place in reasoning, language acquisition, problem solving, and social skills during early childhood. That’s one reason that many states – Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin included – have established state-funded programs that expand access to preschool for all four-yearolds. Academics, Shanna says, are truly only part of what is being taught. “We really focus on the social skills – friendship, compassion, and kindness for others,” she says. “Those are all things that we have to teach kids, and the Week of the Young Child is a great time to share that with the community… because we need their support to make those early years successful.” ILLUSTRATIONS BY ROXIE NICHOLS, AGE 6 Rick Varney, principal of John Cline Elementary and West Side Early Childhood Center in the Decorah Community School District, concurs. “[These] are the most critical years of social, emotional, and academic foundational development,” he says. “And that development just doesn’t happen without having passionate and dedicated families, educators, and community members, from daycare providers and teachers to teacher assistants, directors, and support staff.” In other words, it really does take a village to educate our children. And, of course, celebrating their education does not begin and end with that week in April. Learning, as they say, is a life-long journey – one that should be fostered with care. “Early-elementary teachers instill the love of learning through play-based activities, the building of positive relationships, and the use of a multi-sensory approach to teaching,“ says Clarissa Einck, a transitional kindergarten teacher in the Decorah Community School District. “The benefits are truly priceless. Developing the social, emotional, academic, and whole-child skills are imperative to thriving in school and in life.” Watch for 2019 Week of the Young Child celebrations in your community. If you’d like to contribute ideas to Decorah’s schedule of events, email Shanna Putnam Dibble at shanna.putnamdibble@

Sara Friedl-Putnam applauds the earlychildhood educators, day-care providers, and other community members who are dedicated to changing the world tomorrow by investing in our children today.

“The first five years have so much to do with how the next 80 turn out.” – Bill Gates, entrepreneur and philanthropist

Mark your calendars:

Week of the Young Child April 8-12, 2019 Decorah School District Celebrate our youngest learners! Watch for a school-wide assembly, community / family events open to all area preschool students and their families, community service projects, and more!

School-Year Programs: Children’s House – 3-6 years old E1 (lower elementary) – 6-9 years old + Summer Camps! June-August



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Lissa Carlson with her sons, Corbin and Christopher, in front of their La Crosse Promise home. / Dahli Durley Photography. Courtesy of La Crosse Promise.


Spring 2019 /




hen it comes to revitalizing a neighborhood, a fresh coat of paint is a great start. But what La Crosse Promise has done goes much deeper than the surface. The goal of the area non-profit is to economically transform La Crosse, Wisconsin, through a program available to families that build, buy, or renovate in select neighborhoods deemed challenged by poverty, crime, and low property values. The “promise” is one dedicated to the participants’ future – more specifically, their education – in the form of a scholarship. “We are investing in these neighborhoods by investing in people,” says Brian Liesinger, Executive Director of La Crosse Promise. Continued on next page \ Spring 2019



Lissa with her sons, plus the family dog, Leia. / Dahli Durley Photography. Courtesy of La Crosse Promise. 563.382.9309 309 W. Broadway Decorah, Iowa


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Dependents or adult learners can use up to $25,000 each – with a $50,000 Promise household maximum – at 2 or 4-year accredited colleges. For Lissa Carlson, a self-employed single mother of two, that was too good to pass up. “I make no secret that I did it for the money,” she says with a laugh. “$50,000 will go a long way for my kids.” It was in October 2016 that Lissa and her sons moved into their “Promise Home,” as they’re called, in the Powell-Poage-Hamilton neighborhood. Powell-Poage-Hamilton and Washburn are the two neighborhoods currently being served by La Crosse Promise – they were identified as declining rapidly due to deteriorating property, pockets of poverty and an uptick in crime in a thorough community assessment conducted in 2010 by the City of La Crosse and La Crosse County. Declining neighborhoods resulted in depressed housing values, which led to a greater tax burden for homeowners across the city. Coupled with nearly half the land in La Crosse being tax exempt due to higher education institutions and public marshland, many people became frustrated with tax rates and sought newer housing and lower rates in the suburbs. The exodus continued to fuel a cycle of decline in housing on the south side. “After reading the community assessment report, leadership from the City, County, School District, and area businesses really came together to imagine a collaborative program that would have a rapid impact, and La Crosse Promise was born,” Brian says. “Each of those groups remains heavily involved and represented on our board. The three higher education institutions in La Crosse are represented as well. So collaboration is really in our DNA.” So with the help of the Promise program – and a tight housing marketing – these neighborhoods are seeing revitalization. There are now five Promise Homes on Lissa’s block alone. Residents are also

Spring 2019 /

Continued on next page

At left, 7th St. S. La Crosse before neighborhood revitalization. Above, the same spot after La Crosse Promise revitalization. / Dahli Durley Photography. Courtesy of La Crosse Promise. There is no limit to the number of La Crosse Promise awards each year, Brian says. However, the program can only move as quickly as there are vacant lots or available homes that are eligible for renovation. “We have funding right now for approximately 30 homes,” Brian continues. “We are about to approve two more to take us to 24, and anticipate that we’ll be very close to awarding all of our allotted funds by the end of the year.” La Crosse Promise is currently devising a fundraising campaign that will allow them to expand the program in the future.

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Spring 2019 /

The beautification is, indeed, dramatic. Of the photos above, on the left is 1210 5th Ave. S. La Crosse, before revitalization. The house was razed and new construction went up, pictured at right (Dahli Durley Photography. Courtesy of La Crosse Promise). “When we visit with the neighborhood associations and speak with long-standing members of the neighborhoods, they cannot believe the transformation in just a few short years,” La Crosse Promise Executive Director Brian Liesinger says of the La Crosse Promise impact.

deciding to build in areas that were previously void of new construction. “In the 15 years prior to the launch of our neighborhood program, only two private individuals chose to build homes in these two neighborhoods. From our launch in the fall of 2015 until now, we have 13 new homes with Promise families living in them, plus seven more Promise-eligible homes being built,” Brian says. “New homes have meant new taxable value added to the city. And that ripples out to nearby homes as we see the depressed housing values start to rise in Powell-Poage-Hamilton and Washburn, which improves not only other homeowners’ equity but again, raises the tax base.” The beautification is obvious, and dramatic. “When we visit with the neighborhood associations and speak with longstanding members of the neighborhoods, they cannot believe the transformation in just a few short years,” Brian says. He attributes some of this to the “worst-to-best” approach that Promise takes, explaining that the dramatic transformation from a vacant lot or condemned home to a beautiful new build can be very inspiring. Even more beneficial than the improved appearance is its impact on the use of the homes. “The ‘worst of the worst’ are homes known for significant criminal activity. We know of two Promise homes that were former magnets for crime – specifically drugs. One of those homes was occupied by an individual dealing drugs as late as October of 2017. That home has since been condemned and razed and has been replaced with a new home,” Brian says. “Homes like that remaining in the neighborhood come at a high social cost. The value in replacing them is beyond Brian Liesinger dollars.” Continued on next page

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Spring 2019 /

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Another view of the transformation at 7th St. S. in La Crosse. / Dahli Durley Photography. Courtesy of La Crosse Promise

La Crosse Promise definitely isn’t all about new building, though, or losing the character of these historic neighborhoods. In fact, the program encourages projects that preserve external historic characteristics and are appropriate to the architectural features of the area. Renovation programs were a good way to let people who already live in the neighborhood take advantage of La Crosse Promise’s scholarships and invest in their own home at the same time. An owner who invests more than $30,000 becomes eligible for $25,000 in scholarships. Investing more than $60,000 raises the eligibility to $50,000. What other stipulations exist for Promise applicants? • The family must live in that house for at least four years, and they must continue to live in La Crosse until the youngest child receiving a scholarship graduates from high school. • The oldest student who can benefit from this opportunity would need to reside in the new home prior to the beginning of 9th grade. • Each La Crosse Promise Family is permitted a maximum lifetime scholarship amount of $50,000 to be distributed among dependents however the family chooses, providing that no one student receives more than $25,000. One of the hopes of La Crosse Promise is that there will be a mix of household and incomes that highlights neighborhood diversity Lissa especially appreciates this aspect of the program. “La Crosse is an amazing community, but it is pretty homogenous,” she says. “I like being part of a neighborhood that looks a bit more like the rest of the world. I like that my kids have friends of a wider variety of backgrounds.” Another hope is to increase enrollment in public schools. The convenient location of these neighborhoods within the city helps make this more likely. “My youngest is able to walk to school,” Lissa says. Brian agrees that the proximity to schools has been a motivating factor for many Promise families. Plus the neighborhoods are close to some of the

city’s largest employers as well as a downtown full of shopping and recreation. And as far as the crime and unrest that many associate with these areas? Lissa has little to report. Her only small hang-up has been the occasional language barrier. Safety has not been a concern, she says. Perhaps the biggest hope is that these conveniently-located homes with $50,000 educational stipends – funded entirely by generous donors – will motivate community-minded folks – like it did Lissa – to sign up and take a chance on La Crosse Promise. “No other community in the nation, as far as I know, is tackling neighborhood revitalization in this way – by attaching education incentives to homes. And doing it in a way that involves a deep and long-standing collaboration between the city, county, school district, and area businesses and nonprofits,” Brian says. He believes strongly that the educational component – the investment in people – is a big part of the program’s success, and beautification is the added bonus. “At first glance,” he says, “our neighborhood program looks like just a housing program. When in reality, it is just as much an education program. The Promise families, some who have very young kids and some who have kids who will soon enter college, will have their lives transformed through education – an education the Promise scholarships will help fund.” As an added component, La Crosse Promise also runs Future Centers, an educational advising program in Logan and Central High Schools. The centers have dedicated advisors to help students get career and college ready, along with technical support for things like student aid applications. Together, Promise Homes and Future Centers are providing a comprehensive solution. The future is bright for the program, its participants, and the city. The people-first approach has been working. “What makes great neighborhoods are great neighbors,” Brian says. “We need more than just new homes. We need civically-engaged, education-minded people to strengthen the neighborhoods, and who plan to stay.” The positive changes are felt by the entire city of La Crosse. Promise is about a year ahead of its original projections, and they hope to soon spread the love to other struggling neighborhoods, and support even more La Crosse residents. “Two key areas that often have the greatest impact on an individual’s success are housing and education,” Brian says. “The dollars they will be able to invest in their education will serve them for the rest of their lives. That is a return on investment you cannot beat.”

Sara Walters is a writer and mom of two. Her girls love the awesome playground at Poage Park.

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Bob McQueen

Interviewed by Inspire(d) Media’s Benji Nichols

Bob McQueen was born in Moulton, Iowa, the son of a WWI veteran and bank examiner. Depression era times found the family moving to Northeast Iowa, eventually calling Ridgeway, Iowa, home. The McQueen family became well-known members of the Northeast Iowa community – in banking, and also competitive pistol shooting. Bob’s father, Glen, had taken up the sport of competitive pistol shooting at a young age and became very successful at it, winning his NRA National Certificate of Victory in 1927, when Bob was just a toddler. By age 12, Bob had inherited the enthusiasum for the sport and began shooting competitively across the Upper Midwest. One of his favorite memories was when his dad insisted they allow Bob – then 12 years old – to compete against adults in regional competitions. Bob’s success was quickly noted, reaching his ‘masters’ mark at age 16 with several competition victories, and an eventual 1941 World’s Record title in the .22 caliber two-man team competition, won alongside off-duty Highway Patrol officer (and noted marksman) Don Thimmesch. After High School and a year at Kemper Military Academy in Boonville, Missouri, McQueen joined the Army, only to learn months later he would not be able to see active duty due to a medical discharge. Bob would follow his father’s footsteps into the banking business in Ridgeway. Along with his many accomplishments with Farmers State Bank, he served with the Iowa Banker’s Association (IBA). It was through the IBA that Bob later met his future wife, Irene, who worked at the Association, and the couple married in 1980. Bob has been a long-time member of the Decorah Elks Lodge (currently the longest-standing member at 77 years!) and is a Past Exalted Ruler and state representative for Decorah BPOE Lodge #443. Bob can still be found these days enjoying breakfast with friends at the Family Table, and attending meetings at the Decorah Elks Lodge. His long-time commitment to fraternal good and community are shining examples of his character. What’s the best advice anyone ever gave you? My Dad told me at a young age that if you really want to be good at something “practice, practice, practice!” How about the worst? I think I’ve had the fortune to be given a lot of great advice over the years – if it was bad, I must not have remembered it. What did you want to be when you grew up? When I was younger I thought I wanted to be a Doctor – but I quickly realized I may have been a little too squeamish for it. But always banking – and to follow my Dad. What do/did you do? My father died of cancer, but didn’t tell anyone until he was in his last days. I went to work at the Ridgeway bank on condition that if I met the manager’s approval for three months, I would become an assistant cashier. Eventually I made my way up with Farmers State Bank, and saw us through many decades including the merger with CUSB in 1987 – and then the board of directors for several more years. If you could eat anything every day for the rest of your life, what would it be? A good bone-in ham…

Do you know someone you’d love to interview for this page? Let us know!

Tell us about your wedding day. Irene was born and raised in London, but immigrated to the US in 1958 to be closer to her sister in Mitchelville, Iowa. She was very good at short hand, and found her way into a Des Moines Law Firm, and eventually the Iowa Bankers Association, where I met her. I often had to go to meetings in Des Moines, and eventually asked her out for dinner – her sister’s first words upon this news were, “Is he married?!” We hit it off, and were married in April of 1980 at the First United Methodist Church in Decorah. We adjusted the wedding date in order for Irene’s mother to come from England, and we took a large group photo outside the church after, as was custom in England at that time. We lived in Ridgeway until my retirement from the bank, and then moved to Decorah. (Ed. Note – Benji and Aryn were both fortunate enough to have met and enjoyed Irene’s great attitude and unique story in the late 2000s. Irene passed away in the fall of 2011, and has been missed ever since at the Decorah Elks Lodge, Ridgeway Legion Auxiliary, and greater Northeast Iowa community.)

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To find out more about the performers, become a subscriber, or join Friends of Center Stage, visit • (563) 387-1357 Luther College • Center for Faith and Life 700 College Drive • Decorah, Iowa