Inspire(d) Summer 2022

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NO. 69 SUMMER 2022


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SUMMER 2022 contents





























Community Builders 36


...and more!


In this issue, we feature artist Lauren Bonney and her mural at Vesterheim Museum in Decorah, Iowa (pg 16). Lauren designed this amazing cover for us! Here’s her bio: Lauren Bonney (she/they) is balancing art, design, activism, and family life in Northeast Iowa. Working with folk art motifs, patterns found in nature, mid century illustration styles, and vibrant colors, Lauren enjoys creating all sorts of beautiful things.


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What’s it mean?

From the Editor


’m writing this letter on the eve of my 41st birthday. Our daughter is turning 10 this summer. And Benji and I will celebrate 15 years of marriage (and business) this year. I’m starting to feel a real sense of urgency with things; I can almost see time going by. Moments like these – where there seems to be just a little edge of panic to the passing of days – make me want to pause, assess, and set forth into the future …with intention. Really, you can put the phrase “with intention” after most everything. Let’s have a great summer…with intention. I want to hang out with friends more…with intention. Let’s explore the region…with intention. So for this issue, we’ve collected stories of Driftless folks living and doing life with intention, plus inspiration for planning your own awesome, intentional summer. On the cover of this Inspire(d) is a design by Decorah artist Lauren Bonney. Sara Friedl-Putnam chatted with her about how she created her mural, Together in Decorah, on the Mill Street wall of Vesterheim Museum last year (pg 16). This summer offers an opportunity for folks to get Together in Decorah at Vesterheim through their Family Friluftsliv program – Lauren leads one in June! And don’t miss Lauren’s coloring page (pg. 53)! Pull out the colored pencils and enjoy a moment of calm. We love that Community Builders set out with the intention to, well, build their communities up – we believe this is one of the most important things you can do in life. This issue, we feature Maryann Baldwin of Lansing, Iowa; Stephanie Fromm of Decorah, Iowa; and Terri Wolfgram of La Crosse, Wisconsin. Each individual brings their own unique talents to their communities, making a difference in the lives of those around them. Mental health writer Olivia Lynn Schnur helps us tap into our mindfulness this season – an incredibly important skill for living with intention. Erin Dorbin dives into the fascinating history of the Starlite 14 Drive-In theatre in Richland Center, Wisconsin. Make a plan to check it out this summer – it’s one of roughly 300 drive-ins that remain in operation in the entire nation. And conservationist writer Craig Thompson tells us how we can help our flickering friends, the fireflies around. FYI, I learn a new word almost every issue from Craig. This time it’s semaphore: “the use of an apparatus to create a visual signal transmitted over distance.” :) Heading out on a road trip soon? Add Dyersville, Iowa, to your list and read Benji’s story all about the awesome folks making it a great place to live and visit (pg 74). Get other road trip (and fun) ideas in Sara Walter’s “10 InTENtional Summer To-Dos” (pg 36) – of course, there’s ice cream on the list, plus froyo from Country View Dairy in Hawkeye, Iowa. You can read more about this family-run dairy/farm store in our summer Sum of Your Business (pg 59). Alternatively, heading out on a bike trip soon? Lanesboro’s Linda Tacke might inspire you to do so in Steve Harris’s story about her epic adventure riding across the US (pg 48). Make sure to note her highway-riding safety tips. There lots more fun and inspiring things pieced together in this whole issue – and you might notice, it’s thicker than usual! We’ve got 84 pages of positive news coming at you, and we hope you enjoy each one…with intention! Looking forward,

Aryn Henning Nichols

What is the driftless?

Inspire(d) Inspire(d) – pronounced in-spy-erd... you know: inspired – stands for 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! Our mission is, ultimately, to change the world… starting with our own community!

Who are we?


Aryn Henning Nichols / editor & designer Benji Nichols / head of logistics

WE COULDN’T DO IT WITHOUT: Kristine Jepsen / contributor Sara Friedl-Putnam / contributor Sara Walters / contributor Renee Brincks / contributor Tallitha Reese / contributor Olivia Lynn Schnur / contributor Craig Thompson / contributor Steve Harris / contributor Erin Dorbin / contributor Mary Thompson / illustrator Lauren Bonney / illustrator Inspire(d) Magazine is published quarterly by Inspire(d) Media, LLC, 412 Oak Street, Decorah, Iowa, 52101. This issue is dated Summer 2022, Issue 69, Volume 15, Copyright 2022 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 $28/year. Email for a membership or visit for more info. Want to make a comment about something you read in the magazine? Email

Interested in advertising? Contact Benji at or call 563-379-6315. P.S. Shout-out to my brother-in-law, BJ, for the Christmas 2021 convo that inspired this theme!

Visit our website:

It’s a region in the Midwest – Northeast Iowa, Southeast Minnesota, Southwest Wisconsin, and a wee bit of Northwest Illinois – that was skipped by the glaciers in the last ice age, leaving the area “lacking glacial drift” – i.e. Driftless. The gist of that is we get to enjoy bluffs, valleys, coulees, and other fun geographical features that don’t typically occur in other parts of our states (the Mississippi 07 River contributes nicely to this list as well). It’s a lovely place to live and visit, and we’re happy you’re here!

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guests from across the region. It’s super easy – just follow the link at (that’s it!) and press the play button! For those who consume a lot of ear snacks, you can also find Rhymes With Decorah on the Podbean App, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Amazon Music, and Apple Podcasts. Get all the info:


Join in on the fun as businesses up and down Washington Street in downtown Decorah host the second Washington St. Art Crawl! Washington Street in Decorah has a rich art scene and a handful of businesses and artists want to spotlight this scene. From 10 am to 5 pm on Saturday, June 25, 2022, visit featured artists at The Getup, Agora Arts, Impact Coffee, The Perfect Edge, Mystic Sundog, Convergence Ciderworks, and ArtHaus – all within just two blocks of downtown Decorah. During the art crawl, you can also view booths at ArtHaus for “Art in the Park(ing) Lot.” Ten juried artists from near and far will be selling their work for your enjoyment at the corner of Washington and Broadway. Save the date to support the arts, enjoy their goods, and shop locally – and tell them you read about it in Inspire(d)!


The new podcast is here! The new podcast is here! In addition to the stacks of fresh magazines that we deliver each quarter, we are excited to deliver (via the world-wide-web) a new podcast project, Rhymes With Decorah: Stories about communities you love, by people you trust. Hosted by Inspire(d)’s own Benji Nichols, the show isn’t just about Decorah; it’s about all the amazing things we’ve found – and continue finding – across the region over the past 15 years. If we’ve learned anything, it’s that a rising tide lifts all boats – and we want to feature the positive stories of folks raising those tides, while also asking the big questions about the challenges that we face across our region and the Upper Midwest. For those that aren’t familiar with a “Podcast” – just think of it like a single serving radio show that you listen to from your computer. Each episode is roughly 30 minutes long, and features different


Dad Called – He Wants Art, Pie, Beer, and to go ride his bike for Father’s Day! Lanesboro Arts is proud to present the 41st annual Art in the Park fine art festival on Saturday, June 18, 2022, in Lanesboro’s Sylvan Park with 75-plus fine art and craft booths and live music. Renowned for quality, variety, and value, Art in the Park is a family-friendly art fair that attracts thousands of regional patrons to Sylvan Park each year.


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563-382-3657 . 108 Fifth Avenue, Decorah, Iowa . \ Summer 2022


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A LITTLE LIST OF WHAT WE THINK IS AWESOME IN THE DRIFTLESS REGION THIS SUMMER... Attendees are welcome to sit under the mature shade oak trees of Sylvan Park to enjoy live music from Ann and Andy Lowe, CBB Jazz Combo, RavensFire, and River Crossing, as well as live performances from Minnesota Traditional Morris! There will also be family arts activities for youth, including the annual Father’s Day tie-making station. Attendees will enjoy delicious and locally prepared foods at booths and food trucks. Available will be barbeque sandwiches (Biggen’s BBQ of Peterson), burgers (Abby’s Concessions), tacos, and more. The Farmers Market will offer fresh food and healthy snack stands, and the Lanesboro Community Theater will sell ice-cold pop, lemonade, and water. There will also be craft beer provided by Kinney Creek Brewery of Rochester, KARST Brewing Co. of Fountain, and Lanesboro’s very own Sylvan Brewing. Visit www. for all the details!


Decorah native “Ironmonger” and metal artist Kelly Ludeking has become well known in the world of Iron Pours. Almost two decades ago, he started inviting a small circle of metal-working-friends from across the country to come hang out on his family’s farm just outside of Decorah. The Ludeking homestead in Northeast Iowa is a semi-retired farm. In its bustling days, it birthed hundreds of dairy and beef calves, thousands of piglets, and tons of crops. Kelly’s dad, Ron, thought it was also sort of neat to have the visitors too, and it created a pretty unique gathering. Things grew over the years – local interest grew too, as more and more folks became involved and wanted to learn about pouring molten iron. “Down on the Farm” has been fostering this community since 2004, sparking collaboration, innovation, and curiosity around the feral fires of iron casting. Fast-forward to 2022: The 19th Annual Down on the Farm Iron Pour (DOTF) will take place June 29 to July 4. Enthusiasts, beginners, and experts are invited to engage with the ancient and modern forms of ferrous metallurgy through diverse activities and experimentation. The week kicks off Thursday, June 30 with the DOTF pop-up Art Show hosted at ArtHaus in Decorah from 6-8 pm. Opportunities for involvement range the gamut of digging in to help with event logistics, to creating art, or simply watching it all happen (the


Sep. 22 An Evening with Branford Marsalis Oct. 13 Jaerve + The OK Factor Nov. 5 Ailey II Feb. 9 LADAMA Mar. 31 Empire Wild Apr. 15 Gravity and Other Myths: A Simple Space Call (563) 387-1357 or visit for more information.

Lift your spirit with the arts...


actual pours are quite the sight!). DOTF artists and organizers will be coordinating with the Hubert Family once again to coax the behemoth Hubert furnace to life, with the main pour day at the Ludeking farm on Saturday, July 2. The pour is guaranteed to dazzle an audience and satisfy participants with its bubbling hot iron. Keep in the loop at:


Summer nights and Shakespeare – do come hither! As the Great River Shakespeare Festival enters it’s 13th season, audiences from across the Midwest will be flocking to Winona for Theatre and beyond. This nationally recognized festival fills each Winona summer with a full slate of world-class plays, music, speakers, and celebration events. Lifting off June 18 through July 31 with three main-stage shows, ice cream socials, talkbacks, events, the July 26th “Callithump” fundraising event, and a new project – “‘All The Town’s A Stage: A Winona Story.” “All The Town’s A Stage: A Winona Story” will be unlike anything that GRSF has done before – and is almost four years in the making. The fully staged production will be performed by community members, telling the true stories and experiences of Winonans, using structural elements and language from Shakespeare. Sarah Johnson, Winona’s Creative Laureate, is the community partner on the project, who brings extensive experience in community art and mental health projects through her organization Joy Labs ( Performed at the East End Rec Center, this special project will be presented at the end of July during the final weekend of the Festival. Season tickets, event info, details and more all at

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Viking River Cruises (yes, the company famous for their European River Cruises) has launched a new route on the Mississippi River from St. Louis to St. Paul (and another all the way to New Orleans!), including regional ports of call in Dubuque, La Crosse, and Red Wing. The journey explores the upper Mississippi while navigating through the river’s intricate lock system. Passengers will hear stories of pioneers and the Lewis and Clark Expedition, Mark Twain, and Norwegian immigration and migration. Guests will experience the region’s many cultural treasures – from ragtime, polka, and Norwegian folk music to Wisconsin cheese and craft beer. One unique shore offering at the La Crosse stop will be a day trip to Decorah to experience Vesterheim Norwegian American Museum, shop and dine downtown, and learn more about the Norwegian American experience. We welcome these travelers to our corner of the world and hope they enjoy the beauty and history of our region!

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Another of our favorite late summer events is Elkader’s Art In the Park! Held in Founders’ Park, alongside the Turkey River in historic downtown Elkader, this event provides the sights, tastes, and sounds of local and regional artists in a lovely setting. August 20-21, 2022 (always the third weekend in August) will bring fine art, live music, delicious food, wine tasting, youth activities, workshops, and demonstrations as part of the festivities. New in 2022 will be some exciting collaborative efforts amongst regional art centers at the festival, including The Collective (Elkader), Guttenberg Gallery, and ArtHaus (Decorah). Also worth mentioning is that downtown Elkader is featuring “First Friday” – each first Friday of the month you can check things out at various locations throughout downtown, with featured artists, special events, and more. Info: •



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Summer 2022 /

Red Wing Arts and the Anderson Center are proud to partner with area artists to present the first annual Red Wing (MN) Studio Artist Tour, July 30-31, 2022. This event aligns with both organizations’ vision of fostering connections between artists while presenting the public with a rare opportunity to explore artists in their “native habitats.” Visitors will have access to a self-guided tour of approximately 15 studio locations featuring 35 artists in and around Red Wing and the gorgeous scenery of the Mississippi River Valley. The charming downtowns, dramatic bluffs, rolling hills, vistas, and winding rivers define the area, and make for a perfect weekend away. Visit, shop, play, dine and enjoy a weekend of art! Find all the info:


Quilting is, of course, an age-old tradition – with fabric, weaving, and tapestry going long back into just about any culture. And modern quilting has quickly become a thing of fine art and community connection, crossing all boundaries of ages, races, sexes, and more. Our region is home to some incredibly rich artisans that work in the quilting realm – including the Northeast Iowa Quilters Guild! There will be multiple opportunities in coming months to see the work of the Guild members, and we encourage you to do sew! (or so… grrrrroan…). First, the third annual “Airing Out the Quilts” outdoor quilt show will take place across Decorah on Thursday, July 7, 2022, from 3 to 7 pm. This unique event started as a fun way for quilters to show their work to any and all in different locations, or from their front yards! Check the Northeast Iowa Quilters Guild website ( for a full map as the event nears. Also coming this October is “Razzle-Dazzle,” the 40th anniversary show of the Northeast Iowa Quilters’ Guild. “Razzle-Dazzle” will be held in the new Community Building on the Winneshiek County Fairgrounds, Saturday, October 15 and Sunday, October 16. All the details and more online:




Local farmers markets are some of the best parts of a Midwest summer. While Saturday mornings are the traditional time, we’d like to point out a few other unique opportunities in the region as the season hits its stride. First, our friends in Postville, Iowa, have launched a weekly Thursday evening Market beginning July 7 through October from 5-7 pm. Live entertainment and unique food offerings are featured at the market in what is one of our region’s most diverse communities. Cresco, Iowa has also announced a new open-air market series on Thursdays from 3-6 pm this summer. The Open Air Market is held in Beadle Park (the train park), with the first Thursday of every month located at the Dollar Fresh Parking lot on the west side of town along Highway 9. Rain location: Dollar Fresh Parking. Meanwhile over the river and through the woods in Viroqua, Wisconsin, the weekly Saturday morning markets are always a good time – but the real gem might be Viroqua’s Night Markets – bringing all the fun of the great weekly markets to the evening hours with special opportunities for entertainment and refreshment! Mark your calendars: June 10, July 8, August 12, September 9 are the night markets.








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Story telling is a type of performance unlike any other – a tradition of the ages, but that can be modernized at any moment to cross cultural and societal boundaries. Our region is home to not one, but two Storytelling Festivals. The 19th annual La Crosse Storytelling Festival will take place July 22-23, headquartered at the Pump House Regional Arts Center on King Street in La Crosse, Wisconsin. Friday night will be Tales of the Creepy and Scary, while Saturday morning will offer Children’s Performances that are free to all. Saturday afternoon and evening performances will feature three wonderful nationally known performers plus a silent auction, food and beverages, and music. The City of Festivals, Winona, Minnesota, is launching a brand new Storytelling Festival this fall. The Sandbar Storytelling Festival will kick off October 14-15, 2022. The threeday Sandbar Storytelling Festival provides exciting performances and compelling chronicles amidst the breathtaking beauty of Winona and the Mississippi River. Come celebrate and preserve the power and pleasure of our varied cultural traditions and human experiences through the art of storytelling for all ages. In addition to the public two-day festival Octotber 14-15, which will include food, workshops, concerts, and – of course – storytelling at Saint Mary’s University, multiple events are also planned for Winona schools, universities, and other venues on October 13. A special opportunity is coming up in June to support the new festival as Kevin Kling and Simone Perrin present an evening of music and storytelling Saturday, June 25, at 7:30pm at the Cotter Schools – St. Cecilia Theater. Get all the details:

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Come and visit in scenic Decorah, Iowa! Vesterheim Main Building and Museum Store are open daily.

Special Exhibits: Sylvsmidja: Superior Craftsmanship in Silver since 1940 Open through June 19, 2022

Scandinavian American: Photography by National Geographic Explorer Erika Skogg June 11, 2022 - April 16, 2023

National Norwegian-American Folk Art Exhibition July 2 - 30, 2022 Exhibit Sales: July 29 & 30

Papirklip: A Global and Timeless Art September 1 - December 5, 2022

Join Vesterheim Folk Art School in-person or from anywhere in the world! Register at

502 West Water St.


Summer 2022 /

Join mural artist Lauren Bonney in Decorah this summer at Vesterheim Museum for a Family Friluftsliv event June 18! Register at / Photo by Sara Friedl-Putnam

in DECORAH \ Summer 2022




Summer 2022 /

In Spring 2021, Inspire(d) featured a number of mural artists beautifying buildings and communities across the Driftless. Shortly after that issue went live, another big mural was announced: Together in Decorah, to be created for Vesterheim Museum by artist Lauren Bonney. Lauren’s plan was to design and paint a mural that would foster community in Decorah, and beyond. / Photo by Sara Friedl-Putnam



riving down Water Street, approaching Decorah from the west, peek left to see the giant wrap-around mural gracing Vesterheim Museum’s Mill Street wall. It’s a colorful kickoff to a vibrant downtown. “I wanted to convey that communities can be beautiful patchwork quilts rather than melting pots – that the families who have been here for generations and those who have arrived more recently all contribute to the larger community, both its past and its future,” says Decorah-based illustrator and designer Lauren Bonney, who designed and painted the mural last year. Lauren’s “deceptively whimsical” work has been featured on the walls of Decorah’s ArtHaus, the merchandise of Nordic Fest, and the cover of Inspire(d) magazine (indeed, this very one!). But it was the Vesterheim Museum that provided her biggest canvas yet, with space to “touch on the themes of community and immigration, as well as the specific sense of place that defines Decorah,” Lauren says. She completed the mural, Together in Decorah, in August 2021. It tells the story of Decorah – its intriguing past, its ever-changing present, and its hope-filled future. One star– and fireball– emblazoned vignette illustrates the meteor strike some 470 million years ago that formed the Decorah Impact Structure (better known as the Decorah Crater). Another, featuring a trumpet-bearing angel, celebrates the Indigenous people that called Decorah home long before European settlers arrived. “The angel looks toward the past to celebrate and remember the people who lived here before the Europeans came and how important they have been in making and keeping this space as beautiful as it is,” Lauren says. Another vignette depicts the journey of immigrants, its focal point a drawing of Tradewind, the 25-foot sailboat displayed in Vesterheim’s Westby Ship Gallery. Yet another depicts a rainbowfestooned dove, conveying the hope that immigrants brought with them, and another the Upper Iowa River with fossils by its side. S​​he spends perhaps the most time describing the distinctive white arch that has already served as a backdrop for wedding, engagement, graduation, and numerous other photos. “I incorporated elements of Lutheranism while designing something akin to the stained-glass windows in European cathedrals,” she says. “The rose in the center is based on the Iowa state flower, the Wild Rose, and it is surrounded by bur oak leaves, also native to the state.” She drafted the initial design for the mural in 2020 while taking part in an ArtHaus program (funded by the Iowa Arts Council) to encourage the creation of public art. Participants not only received expert instruction on how to paint murals but were also connected with local businesses seeking artists to create murals for their brickand-mortar spaces. “We were so pleased with Lauren’s vision for the mural and so excited to make it happen,” says Marcia McKelvey, Vesterheim’s director of administration, on the museum’s selection of her design at that time. Vesterheim – officially the National Norwegian-American Museum and Folk Art School – houses more than 33,000 artifacts and comprises 12 historical buildings that draw visitors from around the globe. It’s perhaps best known for its exhibits that, per its website, “explore the diversity of American immigration through the lens of the Norwegian-American experience and highlight the best in historic and contemporary Norwegian folk and fine arts.” The museum also provides tours of Norway and varied educational programs beyond its (now colorful!) walls. Continued on next page

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Lauren Bonney started with a professionally primed surface, and drew her designs directly on the large space of Vesterheim’s Mill Street wall, although she knew there might be imperfections here and there.

Making those colorful walls happen, as one might expect, took a hefty amount of time, effort, and talent. Lauren first conducted research, touring Vesterheim and studying photos and artifacts that might inform her vision. “I talked with the museum about creating an immersive folk-art experience,” she says. “Instead of traditional rosemaling, I combined folk-art patterns of objects within the museum and my personal playful style and illustrations.” She then fleshed out her original design so that museum staff could take it to the Decorah City Council and Decorah Historic Preservation Commission for review and approval. By June 2021, Lauren was ready to break out the markers, prop up the ladders, and begin sketching on the professionally primed walls. “I had this beautiful, creamy surface to start sketching on,” she says

“One of the beauties of folk art is that its imperfections are what gives it character,” she says. She then filled in colors and designs, utilizing her whimsical and colorful style throughout, while also drawing inspiration

with a smile. “I decided to draw directly on that surface rather than project and trace an image, which worked really well because one of the beauties of folk art is that its imperfections are what gives it character.” The original vision was for the mural to be finished in “paint-bynumbers” fashion by museum staff/volunteers and community members – bringing everyone “Together in Decorah” – but COVID, unfortunately, had other plans. Lauren completed the mural by herself just in time for the dedication this past August of Vesterheim Heritage Park, a new landscaped area that connects the museum’s historical buildings. “The title of the mural is Together in Decorah, but in finishing it, I felt very alone,” she reflects. Luckily, folks will still get a chance to get together with Lauren at Heritage Park this summer through Vesterheim’s Family Frilufstliv

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This and left photos courtesy Lauren Bonney



from Vesterheim’s collections and mission. In the above photo, Lauren poses for a selfie mid-work.

Above, right, Lauren paints: “This mural is dedicated to all immigrants, refugees, and populations who have searched for a new home due to war, genocide, loss, famine, plague, disaster, or injustice.” Above photo by Sara Friedl-Putnam

Fun program. (The concept of Friluftsliv – or “outdoor life” – captures the Norwegian love for the great outdoors.) “I’m really looking forward to talking with families about the mural and doing some art based on some of the things we discuss,” she says. “We have a second chance to make the [spirit of the] original vision happen.” For Lauren, the mural is just the latest of many projects inspired by her passion for creating art. As a child, she filled her notebooks with playful drawings. As an adult, she has compiled an impressive portfolio of work, including a coloring book (created with ArtHaus) featuring sites in Winneshiek County (in fact, Lauren designed a coloring page for this issue, page 53), plus branding images and logos for small businesses in and beyond Winneshiek County. At the heart of all her work – not unlike that of famed Disney illustrator Mary Blair, whose work she had long admired – is a playful, colorful style that conveys a deeper meaning. “I love working with shapes and color to tell a story or communicate a feeling,” she says, “and I think that’s all art boils down to in its most basic elements.” Sara Friedl-Putnam fully believes in the power of public art – like murals! – to spark conversation and build a sense of community. She is thankful for Vesterheim Norwegian American Museum, ArtHaus, and other area organizations that have supported the creation of new murals in Decorah and other parts of the Driftless Region.

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A mom of two young kids herself – daughter Juniper (five) and son Sylvan (three) – Lauren Bonney knows a thing or two about exploring art with children. And on Saturday, June 18, she will use her mural Together in Decorah to demystify the process of telling stories through art in a program sponsored by Vesterheim Norwegian American Museum. Her Art in Heritage Park program is part of Family Frilufstliv Fun, an outdoor educational series launched in April and designed for families with children under the age of 10. Each month, participants spend an hour (11 am to noon) exploring nature in Vesterheim’s Heritage Park or nearby Decorah trails through walks, observations, and hands-on activities. On July 23, program participants will explore Twin Springs, and on August 20, Dunning Springs. At least one adult per family must attend. Cost is $5 per family per event, and pre-registration for each event is required. Visit to register.


In addition to awesome exhibits and online + in-person classes in Norwegian language, cooking, folk art, and more (sign up online!), Vesterheim is working on an exciting new building: Vesterheim Commons. Work began spring 2022, with a completion goal of early 2023. The project plays an important role in collaboration with local community members and business partners in making Northeast Iowa a destination, including for Viking Cruise visitors. Two of Viking’s new Mississippi River itineraries – America’s Heartland and America’s Great River – give guests the option to choose a day trip from La Crosse,

An artist rendering of Vesterheim Commons

Wisconsin, to Decorah to experience exclusive museum tours and enjoy the town, bringing hundreds of visitors from July-October. The Commons design has been driven by programming that inspires community engagement and experiences, and it emphasizes the building as a cultural gathering place, with multiuse space on the ground floor that seats 100 people for lectures, meetings, concerts, receptions, and classes and can be set up for luncheons and other meal service, a full-service kitchen, indoor/ outdoor space for special exhibits, and more. The building will include mass timber frame construction, regionally sourced brick from Adel, Iowa, and great views of campus and the surrounding Decorah area. Campaign volunteers and museum staff are actively meeting with friends of Vesterheim to seek support for the Strong Roots Bold Future Campaign. Fundraising efforts will continue through the completion of the Vesterheim Commons project. Planning a visit? The Second Saturday of each month, admission to Vesterheim is free! Learn more at

101 West Water St. Decorah, IA







Maryann Baldwin Lansing, IA BY RENEE BRINCKS


aryann Baldwin loves to plant the seeds of ideas. Whether she’s mentoring local entrepreneurs, supporting city agencies like the Lansing Parks and Recreation department, volunteering through the Lansing Women in Business group, or running her new coworking space, Lansing Office Works, Maryann perfectly illustrates the positive impact a community builder can have. However, she quickly credits those around her for making things happen. “The way I see it, I’ve just created a garden. I provide the sunlight and fertilizer and water, and then I stand back and let it happen,” Maryann says. “Everything is connected, and it’s so fun to watch things grow.” Connections, both intentional and unexpected – plus a little bit of serendipity – have shaped Maryann’s path since she retired from a media and market research career in 2017. When she decided to resume the violin lessons she enjoyed as a child, for example, she spotted a flier from a violin teacher who happened to live just a mile down the road. When Maryann wanted to teach Pilates, she approached the Lansing Fitness Center owner about offering classes there, and within a few months, she ended up purchasing it. Later, as she contemplated a new business concept, a coworking space that would offer resources and events for small businesses, someone reached out about buying the fitness center from her. “For me, that’s what’s great about life. These paths open up, and you look down them and say, ‘That sounds like fun. I think I’d like to do that,’” she says. Maryann grew up in Rochester, New York, and worked in Green Bay, Los Angeles, Orlando, Chicago, and beyond before discovering the Driftless Region 20 years ago. She and her husband bought property in western Wisconsin two weeks after their first visit, and 24

Summer 2022 /

Left: Maryann Baldwin poses on scaffolding in the then-soon-to-be Lansing Office Works space. They spent several hours attaching and hanging each individual cord for the light fixtures, and Maryann was feeling giddy about the upcoming opening. / Photos courtesy Lansing Office Works - pictured from the street at right.

they made a permanent move to De Soto in 2013. “The fact that I have lived in large, metropolitan areas makes me really appreciate what I have here. While big cities have lots to offer, I’d rather visit the cities and come home to a rural environment. It’s incredible to be able to live in a place like this,” she says. Maryann tired of the frequent work travel in her corporate career, but all that time on the road paved the plan for her new venture, Lansing Office Works. While visiting clients in various cities, she often plugged into shared office spaces with flexible membership levels. Geared toward remote workers and entrepreneurs, these coworking spaces typically bundle the use of communal tables or dedicated desks, charging stations, office equipment, internet access, and other perks. Some also offer networking events, educational seminars, and business coaching services. As she outlined how a Lansing coworking space might look, Maryann talked with Jordan Degree of the Rural Ideas Network. The Dubuque-based nonprofit serves entrepreneurs and economic development organizations in rural communities, providing inperson and virtual resources for small business owners. Through its Innovation Lab program, the Rural Ideas Network also operates coworking hubs in five eastern Iowa communities. (Read about the organization’s Dyersville coworking space on page 74.) Once again, fate was on Maryann’s side. “At the end of our first conversation, Jordan mentioned that they were looking to open other coworking spaces throughout rural Iowa. He said they could help me, if I was interested,” she says. Maryann started scouting locations and found herself drawn to the former Grand Central Station restaurant in downtown Lansing. The building had been sitting empty for several years. “It was this huge space on the primary business block of Main Street. Every time I came into town, I’d drive by it and think,

‘Someday, someone is going to buy that. I wonder who it’s going to be.’ As I started thinking about selling the fitness center, I realized that I might be the one to bring it back to life,” she says. After closing on the property and kicking off interior updates, Maryann worked with the Rural Ideas Network team to build out programming and marketing plans for Lansing Office Works. In advance of the facility’s opening, she tapped into the nonprofit’s coworking accelerator program for customizable website templates, technological tools, and operational support. “We launched our network of coworking spaces to create a model that we knew would be sustainable in rural communities, and now we share what we’ve learned through our coworking accelerator,” says Eric Dregne, who directs the Rural Ideas Network’s Innovation Lab initiative. “We can help with everything from choosing furniture to building a website to maintaining an operating system that lets people join and manage their coworking plans, book meeting spaces, or navigate door access systems.”

While the nonprofit provides an array of business tools, Eric says it takes a strong local partner to make a place like Lansing Office Works succeed. He praises Maryann’s professionalism, commitment to the community, and genuine interest in creating opportunities for others. “She had the vision for bringing a space like this to Lansing, which makes her somebody special. She also has a great business background. Because she’s run her own business, she knows the potential pitfalls, she understands what success feels like, and she appreciates what it’s like to do your own thing. That makes her super relatable,” he says. Maryann opened the doors to Lansing Office Works in October of 2021. She created three membership plans for members, each with varying levels of facility access. All plans include workspace use, a high-speed Wi-Fi connection, complimentary coffee and tea, and invitations to roundtable discussions, presentations, and workshops. Members can also take advantage of individual business coaching sessions through the Rural Ideas Network. “I definitely wouldn’t have grown as fast as I have without the business coaching opportunities,” says Wood Media founder Elizabeth Loberg, who operates her web design agency out of Lansing Office Works. “I can hop on a call with them as often as I want, and they’ll help me work through obstacles or decide to pivot or find whatever support I need when I’m stuck.” Basing her agency at the downtown Lansing facility connects Elizabeth with local entrepreneurs and potential clients. She has worked on projects for Main Street Lansing and Red Barn Campground & Restaurant, which maintain Lansing Office Works Continued on next page

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memberships. She brought and this place can do so much for the community,” vendor sign-ups, housing she says. “Maryann genuinely cares, and it’s really reservations, and rider nice to have someone like that. We all build off her information online by beautiful creations and what she has put together by crafting a comprehensive being involved with different groups and efforts here in site for Lansing’s 2022 town.” RAGBRAI events. She’s welcomed an intern from Renee Brincks writes about the Kee High innovation unforgettable places, inspiring people, class that meets daily at and projects that make the world a Lansing Office Works, as better place. Read more of her work at well. “Elizabeth is the perfect example of what this space BUILD YOUR BUSINESS! was meant to be. I wanted a Top: Elizabeth Loberg and Andy Kelleher, both Lansing Office Works tenants, with Maryann during Global EnLansing Office Works is located at 274 Main Street, place where entrepreneurs trepreneurship Week. Bottom: A Ragbrai meeting in the in Lansing, Iowa. To learn more about coworking can hang up their shingle conference room – Lansing is the final destination in this memberships, meeting room rentals, events, and and say, ‘I’m here. How can I year’s route. / Photos courtesy Lansing Office Works entrepreneurship support, visit help you?’ Her business has been a huge success, and I’m thrilled about it,” Maryann says. CONNECT WITH THE RURAL IDEAS NETWORK Elizabeth considers Maryann a The Rural Ideas Network brings business development tools to friend and mentor who is always individuals and organizations working to strengthen small-town available to talk strategy, socialize, economies. “Rural communities are often missing resources, and support a facility that is “full whether it be coworking spaces, business coaching services, or of laughter and joy and ideas being strategic planning support for new and existing companies. Either tossed about every single day.” the support isn’t there at all, or it’s delivered by one person who “Lansing Office Works is just an has to travel around a multi-county region,” says spokesperson Eric outstanding resource for anyone Dregne. “We offer in-person, virtual, and hybrid assistance that’s that wants to grow a business. There customized to all kinds of communities, and we’re always open to are so many opportunities here, new partnerships.”

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Stephanie Fromm Decorah, IA It has something to do with not quite admitting one is wrong, Stephanie explains with a grin. Instead, it’s about reframing to ecorah native Stephanie Fromm think, “But what if we do it this talks fast and works faster. On way?” she explains, illustrating meeting her, you might think with her hands the concept the Winneshiek County Tourism and of pivoting a problem to allow Economic Development Director has been a slightly different approach. in that role since birth. Zach, who is equally as focused And, in a way, she has: the Luther and intentional about business College business major moved back development, chides her about to the community in 2015 to accept this determination. “I get it all the position shortly after she and her the time,” she says, “especially in husband, Decorah (native) social studies the example we’re trying to set teacher and coach Zach Fromm, had their for our kids about saying you’re Below: Stephanie Fromm and her husband, Zach, rent “Piper’s firstborn, Wally. Since then, they grew Skoolie,” a renovated school bus, along the Upper Iowa River. sorry, but specifically, when you their family by two more kiddos (Marcie Top: The whole Fromm family enjoys canoeing on said River. might be wrong.” “‘So…are you and Piper), all while nurturing their own / Photos courtesy Stephanie Fromm going to say it?’ he will pester. collection of businesses: “Twin Springs ‘Are you?’” Lodge” near Decorah; “Marcie’s Cabin” It’s the kids that led Stephanie to her near Warrens, Wisconsin; and lately, “Piper’s current role in the building of Sunflower Skoolie,” a bus they renovated as a tiny home and Child Development and Discovery Center rent as Airbnb accommodations along the Upper in Decorah, a $9M project to relocate and Iowa River. expand the current Sunflower childcare “When we bought the bus, my mom just shook center. The project has raised $6.5M to her head,” Stephanie says with a laugh. “She said, date in grants and local donations or ‘Well, I don’t know what you’re going to do with it, pledges and is chasing its final $2M in but it always seems to work out, so…’” commitments as of spring 2022. Her mom, Brenda, is referring to Stephanie’s The Fromms got on the waiting list at personal way with redirection, a necessary mindset the current Sunflower childcare facility – for an entrepreneur and community advocate Decorah’s largest (120 children) and one facing the challenges that come with innovation. of the few to provide infant care – when BY KRISTINE KOPPERUD



Summer 2022 /

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with Carol Hester & Megan Gloss Luther College Noble Recital Hall, 7 pm Artwork by Robert Wolf

Wally was three months old, and finally got a spot a year and a half later. This experience is common, Stephanie explains, adding that they had to talk a family friend into providing Wally’s care until the space at Sunflower opened up. Today the waitlist tops 140 children. “Simply put, childcare, along with housing, determines whether working families can move to Northeast Iowa,” Stephanie explains. Without it, employers can’t attract desired employees, throttling both the goods and services produced here, and the businesses and services those residents support. By the time she joined the Sunflower board in 2018, the situation had reached crisis proportions internally, too: they couldn’t keep staff from turning over for lack of living wages, benefits, and opportunities for advancement. Then, to make matters worse, COVID hit, redoubling the logistical (and literal) touchpoints of caring for young children. “That’s when I realized, this is not a childcare problem: this is a community problem,” Stephanie says. And over the past two years, she and a diverse army of advocates, co-led by interim Sunflower director Merlene Brown and board president Barb Wilkerson, have identified core needs: Enough room for lots more kids (up to 308)! Competitive wages and benefits! Community awareness of childcare as a critical service!

Saturday, June 4

2. Electronic & Video Music Noble Recital Hall, 3 pm

3. Music for Solo Piano & Solo Cello with Craig Hultgren & Perry Mears Noble Recital Hall, 7 pm

Sunday, June 5

4. Oneota Valley Community Orchestra! directed by Matthew Cody Luther College Center for Faith and Life, 3 pm

Sponsored by The Depot Outlet, Marion E. Jerome Foundation & Iowa Arts Council

An artist rendering of how the future Child Care Center and Discover Center may look when it’s completed. / Courtesy Sunflower project

Key to the business plan is a community-based revenue stream: A dedicated discovery center and indoor playspace (dubbed a ‘marriage saver’) open to the public that will feature STEAM activities (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) and natural history. “Any parent of young kids will tell you that an 18-month old bundled in their full snow suit will last maybe 20 minutes outside? Of a whole weekend?” Stephanie Stephanie and Sunflower Discovery Center laments with a Project Coordinator Lora Friest pose with a 227chuckle. “We need page grant application. Sunflower was awarded someplace indoors.” $500,000 from this competitive grant from Iowa The discovery Economic Development Authority’s Enhance Iowa center will be used Board! / Photo courtesy Stephanie Fromm by the childcare facility during care hours, then open to community groups and the public (for a fee) on evenings, weekends, and school breaks. Continued on next page

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“This hybrid model is of interest to childcare centers, churches – really, any facility not maximizing its use – everywhere,” Stephanie explains. “Lots of eyes are watching our success, across the state and the country.”

Stephanie poses with Merlene Brown, who has been integral to the Sunflower visioning and fund-raising. They met when Stephanie’s oldest, Wally, started daycare at Sunflower as a toddler, a circumstance Stephanie says made a permanent positive impact on Wally’s life. “If he hadn’t been in group daycare, with teachers who knew so much about developmental cues, we would not have known, as parents, that he couldn’t hear,” she says, tears almost shining in her eyes. “If they had not caught this challenge so early, so we could get him the help he needed, he would not be where he’s at socially or in school. He just wouldn’t. We will always be grateful.” Merlene knows this story intimately. “You got through it!” she says, laying a comforting hand on Stephanie’s arm. “I’ve never heard you tell it without crying.” / Photo by Kristine Kopperud


Summer 2022 /

When Sunflower set about finding a location to build, so the current facility could stay open during the expansion, the need was met by Winneshiek Medical Center. Plans are drawn for four donated acres, and Sunflower will break ground in summer 2022. “We’re dreaming up a drone photo of a huge groundbreaking ceremony,” Stephanie explains, “calling it a BYOS – bring your own shovel.” Learn more about the project at Donations are always accepted. And visit the Fromm family’s rental properties at,, and In the meantime, and always, you’ll find Stephanie asking and pivoting and asking again (for more collaborations among businesses, between institutions, through state and federal agencies). “If we just work together on things, think what we could do!” she summarizes with a cheerful grin. Kristine Kopperud has been a Driftless resident and writer for more than 15 years and is relocating this summer to work further with end-of-life care and advocacy in Central Florida. Follow along at!


Help make the Sunflower Child Development and Discovery Center happen! Donate to the project at

8 0 0 . 5 4 5 . FA I R








Terri Wolfgram La Crosse, WI Paperback Rider: Pedaling Literacy in Wisconsin BY TALLITHA REESE


ne of the easiest ways to travel to a new place this summer is by cracking a new – or new-to-you – book. Little Free Libraries make it even easier, providing donated books free of charge. These treasure chests of information are a common sight in the Driftless – it’s not unheard of to stumble across several within one small community. But in La Crosse, Wisconsin, the library comes to you. “I remember seeing Little Free Libraries around Red Wing, Minnesota, and thinking it was a cool idea,” says Terri Wolfgram, who lived in Red Wing, before moving to La Crosse in 2007. Inspired by Portland, Oregon’s Street Books, a mobile lending library that delivers books to people living on the streets via a Haley Tricycle – a large tricycle that is built to transport hundreds of pounds of cargo within a sturdy, lidded, lockable box – Terri decided to take the idea on the road, creating Paperback Rider, a mobile Little Free Library. In 2018, Terri headed out with a large basket for her own regular bike, some books from her house, and a Little Free Library mobile charter number. She set up in Riverside Park in downtown La Crosse on April 12, and continued to pedal to local parks throughout that year, keeping track of how many books she gave out along the way. By the end of 2018, it was a total of 485 books. “I live in a neighborhood where a lot of people struggle,” says Terri. “When kids get books from me, I let them know that they can keep it, give it to a friend, or leave it in any Little Free Library.” Terri began stocking up on books at yard sales and places like the clearance shelf at Goodwill. Then Mario Youakim from Beer 32

Summer 2022 /

Paperback Rider’s Terri Wolfgram with her mobile Little Free Library

By Bike Brigade (a group that started out organizing once-amonth summer bar hops on bikes in La Crosse and grew to host and support a variety of events and fundraisers for the community) shared Terri’s efforts on social media and the large book donations started rolling in from both individuals and businesses and organizations. “Eddy at Driftless Books in Viroqua, Wisconsin, gives me children’s books whenever I visit. Beth from Pearl Street Books in La Crosse has books for me whenever I ask, and Rick and Zoe at Fair Trade Books in Red Wing, Minnesota, have given me books, as well,” says Terri. She soon realized that her operation needed a larger carrying capacity. Terri purchased a trailer and her husband built a box that could be opened for display, but the resulting rig was a bit cumbersome and tended to tip. After completing the debut season of Paperback Rider in November of 2018, Terri started a

On the first day out with Paperback Rider, Terri Wolfgram stocked her regular bike with books from her own house.

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For the 2nd version of Paperback Rider, Terri’s husband built a box for a trailer to display books. / Photos courtesy Terri Wolfgram

GoFundMe to raise money for the ultimate dream: A custom Haley Tricycle book bike. That dream came true in May of 2019 when the current Paperback Rider book bike arrived. That year Terri gave away 980 books while pedaling through La Crosse. Although Paperback Rider offers books of all reading levels to people of all ages, Terri says she definitely goes through children’s books the quickest. Early on in the Paperback Rider journey, Terri had one of her favorite experiences to-date at Poage Park, which is the closest park to Terri’s home. “As I got there, there were several kids in the street, some with bikes. The oldest was maybe 13. They were talking about someone and swearing. I set up and they moved on,” she explains.“Then two of the younger ones came over to see what I was selling. I told them I had free books and asked if they would each like one… Continued on next page \ Summer 2022


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Terri’s current Paperback Rider set-up with her custom Haley Tricycle book bike. / Photo courtesy Terri Wolfgram

Eventually, they each took a book and went over to the steps on the play equipment. Soon, I could hear the younger one reading No, David! by David Shannon, out loud to his friend.” Then 2020 and COVID put a hold on Paperback Rider, as it did with most things. “I only went out once in 2020 to a friend’s yard where the neighboring daycare lady came over with two kids at a time,” explains Terri. “I gave out 14 books.” But on May 22, 2021, Terri was two weeks past her second COVID vaccination and ready to take the bike back out to Poage Park and beyond. Later that same summer, she decided to take her regular bike to Houska Park every Tuesday to offer books to the homeless community there (a tradition she now continues). At the end of 2021, Terri had given out a total of 771 books. Building community through books and reading is something that comes naturally to Terri, as her own mother was a voracious reader who passed that on to her daughter. “She grew up during the Great Depression and wasn’t able to finish high school. She also didn’t get to travel until her later years, but she knew so much about so many things/places because she was a reader,” explains Terri. “Even though money was tight, there were always newspapers, magazines, and books in our house. I also visited the library regularly.” For Terri reading is also a way to honor the memory of her father, who passed away from multiple sclerosis when she was in kindergarten – the same year she learned to read. “In elementary school, the MS Read-a-Thon was a thing,” she says. “I looked forward to that every year, because I could raise money doing something I loved AND help fight the disease that took my dad.” Terri tries to have Paperback Rider in action each year from April to October, with a set weekly schedule and regular spots, although

the weather doesn’t always cooperate. Through Paperback Rider, Terri has Up-to-date information is posted on found a way to combine her love of books, the Paperback Rider website: www. bikes, and kids, all while giving back to the and social media people in her community, especially the pages. kids. Terri has seen firsthand how reading Earlier in 2022, Paperback Rider at a young age can open up a whole new officially became a non-profit world, and foster lifelong friendships. Back organization – a process that began in in Paperback Rider’s first year, Terri met early 2021. three boys at Poage Park who would all “There was a lot of paperwork and I take books each time she saw them. One had to assemble a board,” explains Terri. child in particular, “Z,” often chatted with “I’m hoping to get one ore two more Terri while she was at the park. Z is now volunteer board members at some 15, and he and Terri still keep in touch. point. We started meeting virtually “One day, Z and I were sitting on the even before the non-profit status was picnic table when a girl came over. She granted, just to toss ideas around.” asked what I was selling and I explained The non-profit status streamlines the that I had free books. She looked for a bit, fundraising process. Contributions to then looked at Z and asked, ‘Is she your support Paperback Rider can be made mom?’ Z said, ‘No.’ The girl asked, ‘Well, Terri’s “business shoes” help her Pedal Literacy in style. on their website, where Paperback who is she?!’ Z looked at me, paused, Do you want to Help Pedal Literacy as well? Contribute Rider shirts and hoodies can also be looked at her and said, ‘She’s my friend.’” funds or learn about volunteering or donating books at purchased. Terri acquired a canopy tent / Photo courtesy Terri Wolfgram and tables so Paperback Rider can take books to events that are outside the riding area, and she has big dreams for the future of the non-profit. Tallitha Reese is a freelance writer and “I have some other ideas that I’m working on,” adds Terri, content manager based in Cashton, WI. “including getting each third grader at my neighborhood school She owns Words By Reese and you can find a new book. Eventually, I’d love to give a new book to every third out more about her and her work at www. grader in La Crosse each year.”

GREAT RIVER GREAT DRAMA “a fantastic theatrical weekend!” -Twin Cities Stages

junE 18-JulY 31, 2022 Photographs by Dan Norman








Summer 2022 /



ummer is short and the warm moments of sunshine are fleeting. So let’s make the most of it this year! Get some summer fun on your daily, weekly, month schedule and get intentional with those moments. Looking for inspiration? Here are 10 ways to appreciate your time and the beauty and fun of the Driftless this season. 1. TAKE IN A VIEW

There’s nothing quite like nature to leave you both grounded and inspired. Take a hike or a drive to one of these amazing views to gain a new appreciation and respect for the beauty that surrounds us in the Driftless Region. Explore the 14 miles of trail at Effigy Mounds National Monument (between Harpers Ferry and McGregor, Iowa), where more than 200 ceremonial American Indian mounds are preserved. Catch great views of the Mississippi River here, as well as at Grandad Bluff (La Crosse, Wisconsin). Can’t get enough of those bluffs and river views that make the Driftless so beautiful? You can drive up to Palisades Park for a nice view of the Upper Iowa and Decorah, Iowa, or hike up amazing stone stairs to Pulpit Rock at Will Baker Park. Make sure you don’t miss Sugar Loaf (Winona, Minnesota) or Pikes Peak State Park (McGregor, Iowa) either.

View from Effigy Mounds / Photo by Lauren Kraus


School might not be in session, but your brain can be! Challenge yourself to learn a little something this season with a trip to one of these impressive area museums and learning centers. There’s no shortage of ways to learn at ArtHaus (Decorah, Iowa). Sign up for a pottery or macramé class or attend one of a variety of events, like June’s Washington Street Art Crawl or the rural Decorah Down on the Farm Iron Pour. If you’d rather learn more about nature and wildlife, check out Eagle Bluff Environmental Learning Center (Lanesboro, Minnesota - pictured), where you can get the inside scoop on foraging and geocaching. Other educational opportunities include the Driftless Area Wetlands Center (Marquette, Iowa), the National Eagle Center (Wabasha, Minnesota), and the International Owl Center (Houston, Minnesota) – to name just a few!


‘Tis the season for community festivals! Explore the local delicacies and heritages associated with some of these favorite fests. Expand your palate this summer with tasty treats at area festivals. Rhubarb Fest (Lanesboro, Minnesota) is getting wild with its use of this favorite “fruitegtable.” They’re not just serving up rhubarb snacks, they’re also hosting rhubarbinspired games. At Nordic Fest (Decorah, Iowa - pictured), food is at the heart of Norwegian heritage. Sample delicious lefse, kringla, krumkake, meatballs, rosettes, and lingonberry delights. If brats and sauerkraut are more of your style, head to Germanfest (Guttenberg, Iowa), or for some of the area’s most delicious apples, try Applefest (La Crescent, Minnesota).


There are a surprising amount of art museums in the Driftless, which is great, since you have all summer to explore them! Appreciate the work of artists from near and far at these area favorites. To see works from some of the world’s most well-known artists, you don’t have to travel far. The six galleries at the Minnesota Marine Art Museum (Winona, Minnesota pictured) feature renowned artwork with water as a central theme. Other museums you won’t want to miss include the Dubuque Museum of Art (Dubuque, Iowa), the Rochester Museum of Art (Rochester, Minnesota), and the Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum (Decorah, Iowa). There are also numerous smaller galleries in towns across the region – make sure to stop in and support local artists and entrepreneurs as you explore the Driftless!


What could be more peaceful than floating down a river on a nice summer day, feeling the breeze off the water? Or more refreshing than dipping your toes in when the weather gets hot? Luckily, our region is surrounded by water and there are plenty of ways to experience it this season. Travel the Mississippi River in style by booking yourself a spot on the La Crosse Queen river cruise (La Crosse, Wisconsin). Locals love the pizza cruise, a 90-minute ride with complimentary pizza, beer, and soda to enjoy. If you’d prefer to steer your own boat, you can try canoeing or kayaking the Upper Iowa River (Northeast Iowa) or tubing on the Root River (Southeastern Minnesota). Continued on next page \ Summer 2022



Act like a tourist this summer and visit all the wild and weird attractions near you. You might even develop a newfound appreciation for the locales that draw visitors to the region. If you’re in the market for a nature tour, the Driftless has some fun caves to explore. Take a boat ride through Spook Cave (McGregor, Iowa - pictured) or a milelong hike through Niagara Cave (Harmony, Minnesota). Looking for something a little extra? Check out the butterfly collection at the Porterhouse Museum (Decorah, Iowa), the World’s Largest Six Pack (La Crosse, Wisconsin), and the two-headed calf at the Fillmore County Historical Society Museum & Library (Fountain, Minnesota). And what could be more off-the-wall than the always-intriguing House on the Rock (Spring Green, Wisconsin)?


Nothing says summer like a delicious ice cream cone. There are plenty of options to satisfy your sweet tooth, so grab your buddies and visit one of these must-try shops. A reminder of days past, the Driftless has a handful of old-fashioned drive-in restaurants that make for a fun outing. Try a crunch cone at

Lakeview Drive Inn (Winona, Minnesota), a root beer float at Rudy’s Drive-In (La Crosse, Wisconsin), and a tornado at The Whippy Dip (Decorah, Iowa). And grab some cheese curds as they’re loading up your cone at WW Homestead Dairy (Waukon, Iowa - pictured below). Other tasty options include Sugar Bowl (Decorah, Iowa), The Pearl (La Crosse, Wisconsin), and frozen yogurt at Country View Dairy (Hawkeye, Iowa).


Waterfalls are a great way to admire not only nature’s power, but also its serenity. Take a walk to these nearby water features this summer and enjoy the zen. Pack a picnic and hike around at Dunnings Spring Park (Decorah, Iowa) where a short walk will give you a great view of the falls. Or explore the Stephens Falls trail at Governor Dodge State Park (Dodgeville, Wisconsin - pictured at right) – it’s only a half-mile hike to the overlook. Other Driftless waterfalls, to name just a few, to visit include Siewers Spring State Park (Decorah, Iowa) and Como Falls (Hokah, MN).


With a little reprieve from the winter snow, it’s time to take that lazy Sunday drive! Bring your loved ones for a little adventure or travel solo for a little peace and quiet. (continued on next page)

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From Northern Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico, The Great River Road is 3,000 miles of beautiful scenery. Luckily, it runs right through the Driftless Region, so you can easily hop on US 61 (Minnesota), WI 35 (Wisconsin), or US 52 (Iowa) to travel this renowned byway. For a shorter, yet equally beautiful ride, try the Apple Blossom Drive Scenic Byway (La Crescent, Minnesota). It features amazing views of rolling farmland, the Mississippi River, and in the springtime, blooming apple trees.

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Gather your friends and family and celebrate the time-honored tradition of parades. It’s a great way to stay connected to your community or experience a new one. If you think a parade would be a great addition to your Independence Day festivities, make your way to the streets of Guttenberg, Iowa for their Stars & Stripes Celebration. Or you can join the community of Eitzen, Minnesota for their 4th of July parade during Family Fun Fest. Other great choices this summer include the crowd-pleasing Kornfest parade (Holmen, Wisconsin), the Waterski Days parade (Lake City, Minnesota), which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, and of course, save a spot (but not too early) for the Nordic Fest parade late July in Decorah (pictured). Sara Walters is a freelance writer who is excited to sample all the ice cream with her three daughters this summer.

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“With Intention” logo by Lauren Bonney



ou are a limited resource. I repeat this phrase to myself as I handle requests – from others, my family, myself. It helps me be more mindful of my time and is a great start for living with intention. So what does that mean, living with intention? To me, it means taking a pause before you make choices, and imagining the various outcomes. While this sounds like a tedious process, it really only takes seconds. “How will my future self feel about this choice?” Generally, you know the answer – you just have to ask the question (over and over again). And, yeah, I guess that can get a little tedious, but it is the key to mindfulness. Pausing and being present in the moment – utilizing all your senses to appreciate the moment, and doing the next right thing (for yourself) – is worth it in the long run, though. Sometimes the next right thing is a nap in a hammock. Do it! Time flies by, and if your deepest desire was a hammock nap and you never took it, your future-self will most definitely frown upon that past-self choice.

I look back on the last 15 years of business, and 10 years of parenting, and I feel pretty good, overall, about my choices. Did I know I was going to feel this way at this point in my life? Heck, no. I think, after Roxie was born, it was mostly parenting instincts that took hold – it was always clear in my brain that Roxie was the most important choice, each and every day. That guided the rest. I will forever be grateful for the clarity she provided (and continues to provide for) my life/work balance. Looking back can also offer a view of some things that helped (or didn’t help) make a more intentional life. I put together a few ideas to get you started, and our mental health writer, Olivia Lynn Schnur, bats you in to home plate (baseball metaphors are the thing for summer magazines, right?!) with excellent tips on being intentional and mindful. Here’s to living this summer with intention, and every season hereafter. XOX,

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Look at your wheel of life – where can it be more balanced?


As you get better at doing this, try to pause more often throughout the day.

What can you appreciate in this moment?

At least once a day (you could even set a reminder for a certain time each day), and look around.

FYI: You rate your satisfaction levels for each section

Got your intentions set? Tell someone! You’re more likely to stick to it!



Be a role model, not a scroll model. you, your community, your world.


Do things

We couldn’t resist a chance at this reminder.

Put your phone down

Acknowledge the choices in front of you

Put work into the relationships that matter the most to you (including the one with yourself)

Ask yourself why you’re making these choices? Over and over ‘til you get to the heart of the thing.

Strive for self-improvement – living with intention means always being willing to learn and grow

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Northeast Iowa-based mental health counselor, Olivia Lynn Schnur, shares ideas for embracing a mindful summer.



elcome to the heart of summer. The prairies are decorated with wildflowers and the woodlands are full of life. Long nights and sunny days leave us feeling filled to the brim with energy. Many of us are busy with projects, plans, and the prospect of bright days ahead. Yet, at the end of this glorious season, how many times have we found ourselves thinking, “Where did the summer go?” The following pages are an invitation to enter summer with intention; to slow down, pause, and appreciate all this moment has to offer. 44

Summer 2022 /


Intentions may help us to develop greater meaning in our lives; they allow us to approach our daily tasks with a positive mindset. Many people confuse intentions and goals. Others may consider them synonymous. There is a subtle – yet distinct – difference between the two. Goals are concrete, measurable, and specific. A goal requires tasks to be accomplished in order to meet a specific outcome. For example, “I will run a 5K by the end of summer.” Intentions may help us accomplish a goal, but they are less about the end point and more about the process. An intention sets the tone for our way of being. An intention is a gentle reminder about who we aspire to become, and how we choose to live. In line with our earlier goal, an intention might sound like, “I intend to lead a healthy life that makes me feel strong and energized.” This intention still allows us to meet our end goal, but it changes our relationship with the goal.


Living with intention is a daily choice. It determines the way we approach each day, each task, and each moment. If our intention is to live a healthy life that makes us feel strong and energized, we will make choices to support those goals. We will choose foods that fuel our day. We will engage in activities that build our strength and endurance. At the end of each day, we will go to bed with a sense of accomplishment. In this moment, we may have not yet met our goal, but we can still feel healthy, strong, and energized.

Values are often the driving force behind our intentions. They are the personal motivators related to what we desire and need, and they create a sense of purpose and meaning in our lives. For example, someone may choose to set intentions related to wellness because they value health and happiness. Alternatively, another individual may value love and family and wish to be healthy in order to spend as much quality time with their loved ones as possible. We may be led to discover our values by asking the question, “What does my ideal life look and feel like?” When we set intentions in accordance with our values, we exponentially increase our sense of happiness and fulfillment in life. This is why it is so important that our intentions feel meaningful to us. When our intentions are connected to something bigger than ourselves, we rise to the occasion. We may not have reached our end goal yet, but we feel like we are already there because we are living with intention. This motivates us to make choices that get us one step closer to becoming the person we intend to be.


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Many of us are driven by our thoughts. Society does not teach us that we are separate from our thoughts. Instead, we believe that if we have a thought it must be true; it must be who we are, what we feel, and how we operate. We interrupt this process by practicing mindfulness. Mindfulness allows us to observe our thoughts without acting on them or assigning meaning to them. We can begin to view thoughts as the weather of our minds. Sometimes the weather is dark and scary. Other times, the weather is bright and hopeful. Just as we accept that the weather will change, we must come to accept that our thoughts will change as well. If we have a day where we do not live in alignment with our intentions, we may experience storm clouds. Our thoughts may tell us we are lazy, or we will never accomplish our goals. If we choose to believe these thoughts are true, we will fall back into problematic behaviors. Yet, when we remain mindful, we allow those thoughts to exist without accepting them as true. Instead we remind ourselves, “I did not make choices today that made me feel healthy, strong, or energized. But I can make the next best choice.” Or, “Tomorrow is another day.” This is called reframing, a process of looking at our thoughts from a different perspective. If the weather of our minds is dark and stormy, we can choose to observe this without judgment, saying, “That’s just a thought,” and then returning to our intention to begin again. Continued on next page Mental Health graphics / Shutterstock • davooda

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Build your health here. MINDFUL INTENTIONS

But how do you tap into that mindfulness? There are many ways to start, from Mindfulness Meditation to Grounding activities, to Mindful Movement to Loving-Kindness Meditation. Check out the following worksheet for tips to build your Mindfulness Muscles. Each moment may call for a different form of mindfulness. The more we practice mindfulness, the easier it becomes to know what we need in order to continue moving in the right direction.

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Intention setting allows us to live in accordance with our values and remain connected to our purpose. When we remain mindful of our intentions, over time our perspective of the world changes. We are able to cope with the ebb and flow of life through the lens of awareness, so we may exist as we are truly meant to be. Mindfulness teaches us compassion for ourselves. As the summer swells around us, let us set a collective intention to move with greater awareness. Together, we can change the world. But we must start by finding love, peace, and healing within.

Olivia Lynn Schnur’s writing is informed by her career as a mental health counselor and yoga teacher. She is passionate about wellness, and she enjoys helping others cultivate healthy and happy lives. To learn more, or to book a yoga session, visit


Mindfulness meditation allows us to look inside and sense the weather of our minds, without judgment. When we practice this often, we begin to develop a greater sense of awareness about who we are outside of our feelings, thoughts, and behaviors. To practice mindfulness meditation, find a comfortable space. It can be helpful to set an intention that you repeat to yourself like a mantra or affirmation. For example: Breathing in, “I am present.” Breathing out, “I accept the present moment as it is.” Repeat this as long as desired. We can also choose to focus on something else, like the breath. Having a singular point of focus allows us to turn inward and return to the present moment. What is your mindfulness meditation mantra? _________________________________________________________________________________________________________


Grounding is an excellent practice for returning to the present moment, teaching us to calm the storm clouds and appreciate the rain. We practice grounding by focusing on the five senses. Unlike mindfulness meditation where we turn inwards, grounding is a practice of connecting with the world around us. Here is a simple sample grounding practice: Name five things you can see. Name four things you can hear. Name three things you can feel. Name two things you can smell. Name one thing you can taste. Repeat as many times as necessary. When we practice grounding, we remain curious about our environment and our relationship with it. It reminds us we belong and helps us return to the present, full embodied. Tap into your five senses and notice what you are grateful for. _________________________________________________________________________________________________________


Sometimes we need to move – literally! This is especially useful when it feels impossible to reframe our mindset or return to our intention. Movement helps. The nature and intensity of mindful movement should be intentional. That means moving in alignment with the breath, checking in and asking, “how is this making me feel?” Sometimes we are filled with adrenaline and we need some fastpaced movement to reduce the electrical charge in our bodies. Other times, we may feel too lethargic to move. Then, slower movement is best. Over time, movement can elicit the release of happy hormones (endorphins, dopamine, or serotonin). These hormones have the power to reveal brighter skies above. (Note, movement should feel good. It should be given to our bodies as a reward. We harm our bodies and minds when we punish ourselves with movement. Instead, we must move joyfully and with gratitude for all that our bodies are capable of.)

What types of movement make you feel grateful for your body? _________________________________________________________________________________________


We set an intention of love and kindness with the Buddhist practice of Metta, or loving-kindness meditation. To begin, we repeat the following (adapted from the Buddhist tradition): May I be happy, peaceful, and free from suffering. May my loved ones by happy, peaceful, and free from suffering. May everyone be happy, peaceful, and free from suffering. It sounds simple. However, to truly receive the full benefits of the practice it is important to fully immerse ourselves in each step. We start with ourselves in order to fill ourselves with love and peace so that we may give freely to others. Then, we send that energy towards our loved ones, and finally to the world. Who needs the most love and healing today? (It might be you.) _________________________________________________________________________________________________________


endship,” says but it also builds fri “Biking is solitary, urtesy Linda Tacke co os ot Tacke. / All ph da Lin o’s or sb ne La


A Lanesboro, Minnesota resident reminds us it’s never too late to get out of our comfort zones and live (and adventure) with intention


Linda was the only one riding a recu mbent bike in the group with Adventure Cycling. “The re were probably side bets on whether I’d make it,” Lind a says. “I did!”

n the fall of 2021, Linda Tacke went on a bike ride. The Lanesboro, Minnesota resident pedaled her 16-yearold Bacchetta titanium recumbent from San Diego, California to St. Augustine, Florida. Numbers help tell the story. Days: 58. Miles: 3,100. Miles per day average: 63. Elevation Climb: 0 to 8,000 feet. Temperatures: 37 to 104. Pounds lost: 4. Flat tires: 7. Boogie Board: 1 (waiting for her on a Florida beach). Wait, one more. Linda took this adventure two months shy of her 70th birthday. Lots of stories in those numbers. Lots to learn, too. Twenty-plus years ago Linda was working at Park Avenue Methodist Church in Minneapolis. A weeklong senior high bike trip was going to be being cancelled if they couldn’t find one more adult counselor. Linda volunteered. “I did it and fell in love with biking,” she remembers. When Linda and her husband, David, bought a home in Lanesboro in 2008, she became a RAGBRAI regular (13 times so far) and even started considering a cross-country ride. “David knew I was dreaming about doing that,” she says. “He made me promise I wouldn’t do it alone.” Linda kept her dream, and her promise, after David passed away in August 2017. “I signed up with Adventure Cycling for their Southern Tier Route and traveled to San Diego to join a group of 11 bikers and two guides. We were from all over: Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, Washington. I was the only Midwesterner. Other than our guides, I was also the only woman. Ages ranged from late 30s to early 70s. They were all really decent human beings, serious bikers, who shared a love for biking.” Their journey began on September 25 with the traditional bike-tire dip in the Pacific Ocean and took them on a carefully planned route through California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, and Florida. Each day presented Continued on next page


Summer 2022 /

The group made fast friends. “W to slowest e lined up --we knew fastest rid who we w er ere!” says Linda.

at St. Augustine, dipping bike tires by p . tri e th d de They en y I was,” Linda says ile shows how happ sm big y “M a. rid Flo \ Summer 2022


58 days of biking also meant 58 days of picnic meals and camping. / All photos courtesy Linda Tacke

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Summer 2022 /

unique road conditions, some unpredictable weather, and a fixed daily routine (pedaling each morning by 8 am, meet back by 4:30 pm). Sleeping accommodations were a mixed bag, from RV parks to Quality Inns to KOAs to a police station to church lawns to pitching tents in the gravel parking lot of the Apache Gold Casino in San Carlos, Arizona. “You learn to be flexible,” Linda says. She wanted to see America by bike and she got her wish. “In California and Arizona we biked through state and national parks with fabulous scenery. Pedaling through beautiful date and pecan groves is a special memory. Lots of hours under big skies, too. We hit 75-mile stretches in Texas that didn’t have a single intersection.” Two small towns became highlights. “Marfa, Texas has a growing reputation as a unique arts center,” Linda says. “We arrived there on one of our ‘rest days’ and had a great time exploring.” Merryville, Louisiana, a community of about a thousand people, provides wonderful hospitality to long-distance bikers. “For Sunday dinner they fed us seafood gumbo, crayfish pie, fried alligator, and scratch chocolate cake. Phenomenal!” Spectacular scenery, plenty of food, and miles of roadway made for quite a trip. Challenges, too. “On our Masks helped protect their faces first night as I rode into camp, from the elements and the colored the seat fell off my bike,” Linda triangle helped keep them visible says. “Bad timing. I was hot, and safe. sweaty, and scheduled to cook dinner for 13 people. I texted pictures of the broken bike to my engineer-brother, John, and he prescribed epoxy and c-clamps. It worked.” Days later, with the chipseal roads of Texas tearing up her tires, an emergency side-trip to an Austin, Texas, bike shop led to modifications on her bike-frame that allowed for bigger, more durable tires. That worked, too. Facing all the challenges, Linda hung in there. “I never seriously considered quitting,” she says. “Physically I was fine; on not one day did any part of my body hurt. I missed a turn in Los Cruces, New Mexico, and ended up a bit lost. Twice during the trip I had to take a ditch when it looked like a car behind me wasn’t moving over. But

I just kept pedaling, moving ahead mile by mile. The guys called me ‘the girl with grit,’ and I took that as a compliment.” Why did she take a trip like this? “I enjoy challenges,” Linda says. “Taking this on made me feel very alive.” All those miles on a bike also gave her an unexpected gift: time alone. “Adventure Cycling has a policy of no media. My original idea to listen to audio books wasn’t going to happen.” She never felt lonely, though. “A number of loved ones have left this world too soon. David, of course. My friend and biking companion, Shannon, died the previous March. My youngest sister passed in 2014. While I was on the trip another friend died from cancer. Those faces were always with me.” Without a doubt, the trip changed Linda. “I had time to consider priorities,” she says. “It made me think about simplifying my life and the importance of gratitude. I’m enormously grateful that I A colorful little beaded angel rode with Linda could do this trip and for all the people throughout her trip to represent loved ones she who helped me along the way.” had lost in the past. / Photo courtesy Linda Tacke The last day – November 20, 2021 – was maybe the most memorable. “We only rode 40 miles so we could coordinate our arrival with family and friends coming to St. Augustine to welcome us.” What a welcome it was. After their triumphant Atlantic Ocean bike-tire dip, it was time for warm hugs, a few sips of champagne, and photos all around. Her friend, Kim, who’d driven from Sarasota to welcome Linda back, had a surprise waiting. “She pulled two boogie boards out of her car trunk,” Linda says with a hearty laugh. “We both jumped into the ocean – me still in my biking clothes – and for the next hour and a half we swam, laughed, and splashed in the waves. “I felt great that I had met this challenge at this point in my life. It made me realize how good it is for me – for all us – to venture out of our comfort zones. We really can do more than we think we can. And we can have a great time doing it. Playing in the ocean that day made me feel like a 7-year-old!” A 7-year-old. That may be her best number of all. Steve Harris is a freelance writer and the author of Lanesboro, Minnesota, whose happiest trail is the 42-mile Root River State Trail from Fountain to Houston.

Bike Safely!


When you find yourself biking on the shoulder of a highway, special precautions are needed, says Linda Tacke. “We ended up riding in those conditions more than a few times on our trans-America trip,” she recalls. “To stay safe you need to stay extra careful.” What practical tips does she recommend? • Always wear a helmet. Always. • Make sure your bike has a mirror. You need to see what’s going on behind you as much as what’s going on in front of you. • Make sure you’re visible! Cars need to see you. We rode with “slow-moving vehicle” triangles on our backs. Our bikes also had flashing lights. Bright clothing helps, too. • Ride single file – always. • No ear buds. Stay alert to traffic and to your surroundings. Hearing is an important part of that. • If cars slow down and bunch up behind you, pull off the road and let them pass. Safe for you, safe for them. • When at all possible, avoid highway-shoulder biking. Utilize good secondary roads and roads with less traffic, or at the least, roads with good wide shoulders. • If you need to stop while biking on a highway shoulder, make sure you quickly move at least 10 feet off the roadway.

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28097 Goodview Dr., Lanesboro, MN \ Summer 2022


After a fun day of biking or tubing on the river, Lanesboro’s delicious restaurants will wonderfully match your appetite, with Pedal Pushers Cafe being a highlight. Look for expanded outdoor dining options, too. Another convenience? Sylvan Park is a great place to enjoy take-out meals and picnics as well!

Destination Lanesboro Lanesboro, Minnesota, is the perfect place to start exploring and enjoying southeast Minnesota’s breath-taking Bluff Country. Located just two hours from the Twin Cities, three hours from Madison, WI, and 3.5 hours from Des Moines, IA, this unique town is also the perfect destination for your 2022 Spring, Summer or Fall Get-Away! Here’s a taste of what you’ll discover: 60-miles of paved bike trails, stellar fishing on the Root River, canoeing, tubing, kayaking, hiking, golf, and other outdoor adventures. You’ll also find a multitude of options for lodging, dining, shopping, arts, live theater and music, inspiring artists and galleries, a wine bar, a brewery, and more. Once you arrive, you may not start your car again until you head for home! If this is your first visit, or even if you’re a long-time Lanesboro lover, make sure you try our new Lanesboro App to get upto-date, contactless information on local businesses, including hours, amenities, and a user-friendly glossary. You’ll quickly find whatever you need, from ice to firewood, from shampoo to sanitizer, and so much more. Two convenient stores on either end of town will help you settle in: the Parkway Market and Coffee House and the Lanesboro BP Food Shop. If you’re planning an overnight stay, you have many lodging options from which to choose. Find your home-away-from-home at welcoming places like the Cottage House Inn, the Habberstad House Bed & Breakfast, the Sacred Clay Country Inn,

While you’re in Lanesboro, look for its “specialty shops” and unique businesses. The Root River Rod Co. has everything you need for fly-fishing, including hand-crafted bamboo rods and their personalized “Fishing Outfitters and Guides” services. Little River General Store provides bike and tube rentals and equipment to get you out on the trail or on the Root River. Find out when auctions are happening at Lanesboro’s oldest business–the Lanesboro Sales Commission–and you’re sure to go home with a few stories! For business needs, check out Krage Insurance Agency and Preble Farmers Mutual.

Exploring the small towns and villages near Lanesboro adds even more fun-filled memories to any Bluff Country trip. Just four miles away is Whalan, where you’ll find the Aroma Pie Shoppe and Gator Greens Mini-Golf. There’s lodging in Whalan too, at the award-winning Cedar Valley Resort and the Cyclin-Up Inn. In nearby Peterson is the Driftless Trading Post (for canoe, tube and kayak rentals), the Driftless Trading Post Farm-to-Table Eatery, and lodging at the Andor Wenneson Historic Inn. Plan a trip Thanks to our many volunteers and to the Niagara Cave outside of Harmony and organizations, our well-loved events will you’ll find one of the greatest cave attractions return in 2022. Lanesboro is the Rhubarb in the U.S. Back closer to Lanesboro is hiking Capital of Minnesota — enjoy our annual Rhubarb Festival and Art in the Park on June and outdoor adventure fun at Eagle Bluff 4 and 18; come to Buffalo Bill Days over August Environmental Learning Center. If you 5-7, a weekend festival celebrating Lanesboro’s have lodging needs in Chatfield, you’ll find the Oakenwald Terrace B & B. connection to the legendary Buffalo Bill. Lanesboro is known for its natural beauty, Many artists, like painter Joni Finnegan, arts, and outdoor recreation, a place where call Lanesboro and this area home. you can truly relax and savor the vibe of Visit their studios in-person during the a small town. Make plans now for your Lanesboro Area Art Trail. Lanesboro and Bluff Country get-away. The award-winning Commonweal Theatre We have the welcome mat out for you! presents its 34th season in 2022 offering five plays from April to December, including “I Ought to Be in Pictures,” “The Mystery of Edwin Drood” and “Alice in Winter Wonderland.” Our amazing professional theater is ready to take you on a storytelling journey with thoughtful and safe pandemic procedures in place. Lanesboro is a fun shopping destination, too. Explore local stores to discover exclusive clothing, jewelry, home goods, art, wine, and more. Granny’s Liquor, Lanesboro Arts Gallery, E2 Boutique, and Amish Experience welcome you to pursue and find treasures to enjoy in town or bring home. A stop at the Lanesboro Area Chamber of Commerce Visitors Center will help you plan your visit and answer all your travel questions.

Find more information about Lanesboro Signature Events at: Promotional Support for this publication also provided by: Parkway Market & Coffee House and Stone Mill Hotel and Suites.

“Natural beauty and creative people are inspiring. Come be inspired by Lanesboro!” From the book “Lanesboro, Minnesota” by Steve Harris





the Coffee Street Inn, the Scandinavian Inn, Historic Scanlan House B&B Inn, the James A. Thompson House B&B, and the Stone Mill Hotel & Suites. Each one provides comfortable and quality rooms and cabins, amenities for different-sized groups, and friendly customer service.

MAKE IT: your


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LIVE MUSIC! SUMMER 2022 The Summer of 2022 is looking to be jam-packed with live music – and we’re fans of that! Here’s a list of just SOME shows in the region this season – make sure to check your communities for events, and get out there to support local tunes!


For many years, Thursdays in the summer in Decorah have equaled free community music through “Lawn Chair Night” in front of the Winneshiek County Courthouse. This year, the Decorah Downtown Betterment Association, along with Decorah Chamber of Commerce, are turning things up a notch, splitting the traditional Thursday Courthouse evenings with a handful of Thursdays on Washington Street in downtown Decorah next to Impact Coffee. This has been the site for CnC Trivia since last year, and will now include an hour of live music from regional acts six nights this summer, starting at 5:30 pm – plus refreshments available at Impact Coffee, and a food truck! (Don’t worry – Decorah favorites like the Municipal Band and Nordic Dancers will still take place at the Courthouse.) Check out the schedule below: At the Courthouse, 7pm, Thursdays: June 9: Municipal Band June 23: Municipal Band July 21: Nordic Dancers August 11: Uptown Jazz August 25: Grass Run Band

Chris Koza / Photo courtesy Chris Koza

Live on Washington St., 5:30pm, Thursdays: June 16: Jensen Sisters June 30: Namoli Brennet July 7: Michelle Lynn July 14: Chris Koza August 4: Mike Munson August 18: Dave Zollo Grass Run Band / Photo courtesy Grass Run Band

Decorah-land is rich in both amazing beverages and great musicians, and bringing those two things together can equal some pretty darn nice summer days and nights. Check out the listings for a couple of our favorite local spots – and tell them Inspire(d) sent you! Live on the Patio at Toppling Goliath - Wednesdays 6-8:30pm June 8: Classic Car Night with Larry Myer June 15: Steve Schroeder June 22: Bike Night w/TBD June 29: Michael Breitbach July 6: Ann Christoffer July 13: Classic Car Night w/Patsy and the Plum Street Band July 20: Andrew Hoyt July 27: Bike Night w/JR Brink Band August 3: with Steve Schroede August 10: Classic Car night with/Scott Wilcox August 17: Ryan Howe August 24: Bike Night w/ The Mamiltons Friday Nights at Pulpit Rock Brewing, Decorah June 17: Mike McAbee July 1: Michael McElrath July 8: Tail Light Rebellion July 15: Mike McAbee July 22: The Dogs July 29: Ethridge Netz August 5: Michael McElrath August 12: Lonesome Dan Kase August 19: Mike McAbee August 20: Pulpit’s 7 Year Anniversary Party! August 26: The Tom and Betty Show September 9: Nate Case September 17: Seasaw September 23: Shiny Happy People



The Trempealeau Hotel has long-held the torch for great live music, made even better by beautiful summer evenings on the banks of the Mississippi River. Make it an afternoon cruise up the river, or a weekend of it in Western Wisconsin. Check out the schedule online for the most up to date shows. June 4: Reggae Fest June 30: The Chris O’Leary Band July 2: Nikki & the Phantom Callers, Eric Tessmer, Kyler Renfro, Lone Goat Rodeo July 3: Clay Fulton & the Lost Forty July 6: Caludo July 30: Wise Jennings July 31: Mike Oregano August 7: Patina 54

Summer 2022 /

Lanesboro, Minnesota, is the place to be this summer as a short series of fantastic summer concerts graces Gateway Park, on the great banks of the Root River. The series offers the Lanesboro community and visitors an infectious range of music including bluegrass, soul, and indie rock from regionally acclaimed bands. The concerts will take place from 6 – 7:30 pm on the second Saturday of every month July through September. Tickets will be $15 each for individuals age 13+ (free for 12 and under, but ticket still required); tickets at July 9: Kiss the Tiger August 13: Good Morning Bedlam September 10: Jaedyn James

Kiss the Tiger / Photo by Morgan Winston courtesy Kiss the Tiger


Wapsi River Ramblers at Convergence / Courtesy

Sundays at Convergence Cider Works, 4-6pm June 5: Wapsi River Ramblers June 12: Highstrung & Fretless June 19: Ben Scruggs June 26: Maritza & Friends July 3: Kid Dakota July 10: Jeff Kelly July 17: Chad Elliott July 24: RavensFire July 31: Joshua & Ezra Vorvick + Erik Sessions August 7: EF5 August 14: The GrassRun Band August 21: Kid Dakota August 28: NorthSoul September 4: J. Jeffrey Messerole Impact Coffee Evenings! Most shows 7:30pm June 10: Ingie Enrichie Duo June 11: Joshua Vorvick on Guitar June 17: Central Standard Time (Charlie Rod Duo) June 18: Paul Lawrence & Jake Manders Duo June 24: Drag Kings Show June 25: Wapsie River Ramblers July 2: Ryan Howe Solo July 8: Mike and Sue Blair Acoustic Duo July 9: Joshua Vorvick Trio July 29: Driftless Jazz July 30: Fellas! (Two Shows!) August 12: Ingie Enrichie Duo

July 28-30, 2022 Velkommen til Nordic Fest! For more than 50 years, Decorah has been celebrating its Scandinavian history with this annual summer festival. Join in the fun and soak up the sights, sounds, sports, and food of Scandinavian-American culture! From incredible programming at Vesterheim Museum, to family activities across the community, there’s fun to be had all the way down Water Street and beyond! Musical entertainment is a big part of “The Fest,” with traditional favorites like the Nordic Dancers, and Scandinavian folk band FootNotes. Other crowd pleasers like the Rochester Accordion Orchestra, Norwegian Bachelor Farmers, Ace Jones, and Avey Grouws Band will be found on the streets of Downtown Decorah, including two kids shows with The Jolly Pops, a “Dad-centric” crew from the Twin Cities that live to play for the littles. Blame it on the Bard and Kyle Renfro will be joining in the fun as well. On the main stage of West Water Street, headliners in the beverage garden this year are Barefoot Becky and the Ivanhoe Dutchmen Thursday night (and Friday morning), David Zollo and the Body Electric Friday night, and Saturday night it’s a string band shake down with the Pistol Whippin Party Penguins. See you on Water Street!


Over the river and through the woods, near Hillsboro (Yuba, Wisconsin, actually…), sits the Driftless Music Gardens. Tucked away in the hills, this lil’ oasis has become home to some of our regions best music gatherings. What was once a multigenerational dairy farm has quickly become home to multiple annual festivals featuring some of the best of the Midwest, all in an iconic natural setting. Check out the 2022 season – and get all the details at June 9-11: Bonfire Music & Arts Festival July 15-16: Boogie Down Music Festival August 5: Trampled by Turtles and Charlie Parr August 6: Horseshoes & Hand Grenades and Pokey Lafarge August 11-13: People Fest

Above: Horseshoes & Hand Grenades / Photo by Molly Jean Photography courtesy Horseshoes & Hand Grenades Continued on next page \ Summer 2022



Among the solar rays and electric cars, there are even more ways to create energy at The 31st Annual Energy Fair, June 24-26 in Custer, Wisconsin. The line-up includes Midwest talent with genres ranging from Acoustic Folk to Electric and Jamgrass. Learn more and buy tickets at June 24: Patchouli & Terra Guitarra (Afternoon) GGOOLLDD (Evening) June 25: Genevieve Heyward, Tae & The Neighborly (Afternoon) Armchair Boogie (Evening) June 26: Nur-D


Elkader, on the Turkey River, is one of the sweetest little towns in Iowa – and also home to the historic Elkader Opera House. Throughout the year this space holds various theatrical and musical events, and we’d like to point out just a couple! Tickets and more info: July 8: Dead Horses, 7:30pm – *Pre Show fun at Deb’s Brewtopia! August 14: Mean Mary James, CCSD Fine Arts Boosters Fundraiser, 3pm September 10: A Tribute to Joni, Judy, and Joan by Carol Montag, 7pm

Charlie Parr / Photo courtesy Charlie Parr


Viroqua’s annual musical bash is happening July 9, 2022 from noon to 9 pm in Eckhart Park (next to the Dragon Park!). This fantastic community celebration offers the chance for humans of all ages to enjoy fun, food, and live music in a beautiful outdoor setting. Catch Ryan Necci & The Buffalo Gospel, McNasty Brass Band, Tani Diakiti & The Afrofunksters, Kendra Swanson, and more! Hit up or check for updates.


Join the fun at Historic Forestville this summer! Located just outside of Preston, Minnesota, this historic site will host a series of fun outdoor shows for the whole family. Sponsored by the Preston Area Foundation, the series features local and regional musicians in a lovely setting. Keep an eye on the Historic Forestville Facebook page for updates on guided hikes and additional activities throughout the summer. June 11: Square Dance with Bob Bovee, Pop Wagner, and Anni Spring 7-9pm July 2: River Crossing, 4-6pm July 23: Becky Schlegel and the Traveling Opry Show, 4-6pm July 30: Root River Jam, 6-8pm August 27: Charlie Parr, 7:30-9pm

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Vernon County, Wisconsin, is home to some amazing outdoor recreation areas and parks – and this summer you can even catch some of our region’s best musicians playing free, family-friendly shows in the great outdoors! Sidie Hollow County Park near Viroqua, and Esofea County Park will alternately host concerts at 6 pm on Wednesday evenings in the months of June, July, and August. The lineup includes such favorites as TUGG, Crooked Willow, The Iowans, Wise Jennings w/ Lone Goat Rodeo, Eric Tessmer, Flibbertijibbet, and more. It’s worth mentioning that Sidie Hollow also features fantastic camping and excellent single-track mountain bike trails – so make a mid-week escape of it! There is no charge for admission for the Music in the Parks series, but free-will donations are encouraged and will go to directly support the musicians. Find the full schedule at: facebook. com/vernoncountyfriends June 1: Tugg – Sidie Hollow June 8: Crooked Willow – Esofea June 15: Texas Toast – Sidie Hollow June 22: Old Soul Society – Esofea June 29: Dan & Mary w/ The Parrishes - Sidie Hollow July 6: Wise Jennings w/ Lone Goat Rodeo – Esofea July 13: Greg Hall & The Wrecking Ball – Sidie Hollow July 20: The Iowans w/ Jamie Waggoner – Esofea July 27: Gin Mill Hollow – Sidie Hollow August 3: Freaks of Nature – Esofea August 10: Pint Travelers – Side Hollow August 17: Flibbertijibbet – Esofea August 24: Wurk - Sidie Hollow August 31: Eric Tessmer – Esofea September 7: Special Guests TBA – Sidie Hollow

Looking for an amazing venue? Mark your calendars for

Opera House


July 21-24: CCT Productions Summer Musical August 6: A Tribute Concert to Judy Collins, Joni Mitchell, Joan Baez By Carol Montag, 7 pm September 24: Rustic Moon Band – A Tribute to Neil Young, 7 pm

Champlin Hall Rent the Opera House for live theatre, music & entertainment, weddings, corporate events, movies & more. Or Champlin Hall in the lower level - perfect for family reunions, wedding & baby showers, meetings & more! Visit or call 563-547-1066 for details


Moon Tunes La Crosse celebrates its 10th season in Riverside Park at the beautiful new bandshell! A project of Valley View Rotary, the schedule starts with shows on June 2, 9, and 16, and continues July 7 every Thursday evening through September 1. Featuring some of the regions best musicians, performing for free in a great outdoor setting, Moon Tunes is a fun way to get out and enjoy our region – and support your favorite downtown La Crosse businesses. Shows run from 5:30 to 8 pm. Check Facebook “Moon Tunes La Crosse” for latest updates. June 2: Bill Miller w/ Instruments of Peace June 9: WRST /Torrence Chester & Friends Motown June 16: La Crosse Jazz Orchestra / Hans Mayer & Friends July 7: Tapestry of Songs / Tugg Just 14: Big Liquor / Smokin’ Bandits July 21: The Executives / High Mileage July 28: The Troubadogs / Dan Sebranek & John Smith / String Ties August 4: Greg Hall & The Wrecking Ball / Community Jam August 11: The Byrne Brothers / Boxing Banjo August 18: The Remainders August 25: Joe & Vicki Price / Shufflin’ Duprees / Howard “Guitar” Leudtke & Blue Max September 1: UWL Screaming Eagles Marching Band / Cody and The Ghosts September 10: Saturday Season Finale – Woodstock 2022 (2pm) \ Summer 2022


AT Courthouse 7pm - 8pm June 9th Municipal Band June 23rd Municipal Band July 21st Nordic Dancers August 11th Uptown Jazz August 25th Grass Run Band

On Washington 530pm - 630pm June 16th The Jensen Sisters June 30th Namoli Brennet July 7th Michelle Lynn July 14th Chris Koza August 4th Mike Munson August 18th Dave Zollo A local partnership between Downtown Decorah Betterment, Decorah Area Chamber, Visit Decorah, Impact Coffee

Dave and Carolee Rapson pose in the dairy barn with three of their children. / Photos courtesy Country View Dairy






n the spring of 2002, Dave and Carolee Rapson moved from Michigan to Hawkeye, Iowa, in search of their dream dairy farm. Many farm jobs and a few years later, the Rapsons found it, and started setting down roots and milking cows. While raising their five children on their rural homestead, Carolee began making yogurt with their fresh milk, garnering approval from her toughest critics (her kids!). Continued on next page


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Summer 2022 /

Above, Country View Dairy added a popular line of frozen yogurt to their offerings in 2013. Below, they speak about their products. Right, production happens just steps from their dairy barn near Hawkeye, Iowa.

As the dairy bust of the late 2000s came on, the Rapsons looked for ways to diversify and realized that there was a market for local, all-natural yogurt. By 2011 the Rapsons had built a brand new, state-certified creamery just steps from their milk house, ready to create their signature yogurt and a new business: Country View Dairy Creamery. Country View’s yogurt is made from high quality Grade A pasteurized milk from their own healthy and well-loved cows. Their milk is non-homogenized, allowing the cream to rise to the top the old-fashioned way, and each flavor is made with the highest quality ingredients and cultures, containing no preservatives, gelatin, thickeners, or artificial ingredients – and is always gluten-free! An additional product (and one of our favorites!) that the Rapsons started making in the summer of 2013 is a premium line of Frozen Yogurt. The yogurt is made for soft serve mix machines, and more recently, pre-frozen tubs found in the freezer section of grocery stores. Country View’s products can be found across several states, and also in many restaurants, colleges, and schools throughout the Midwest. The Rapsons have received many awards and acknowledgements over the years. Most recently, in March of 2022, the Iowa Department of Agriculture recognized Country View with the Iowa Agriculture Leader Award for Market Diversification for their work to connect Iowa Farm products to school lunch programs throughout Central Eastern Iowa.

“Country View Dairy is known for producing high-quality, delicious dairy products. They are partnering with other local businesses to bring their home-grown products to more Iowans,” says Iowa Secretary of Ag Mike Naig. “I am proud to have this family dairy at the forefront of this effort and our agricultural community, helping to make a difference in our state. While I’m particularly fond of their yogurt, I can’t wait for folks to try one of their many tasty, locally sourced products!” Country View’s frozen yogurt line will also be featured this year at the Iowa State Fair in the John Deere Agriculture building, alongside the Butter Cow! They’ll be serving their unique flavors of frozen yogurt to RAGBRAI riders too, as West Union hosts an overnight stop for the Great Bike Ride Across Iowa on July 29. As any Iowa farmer can tell you – a dairy herd never takes the day off, and the Rapsons have worked just as hard, connecting a truly local dairy product to the region and beyond. Don’t miss your chance to visit Country View Dairy’s onfarm store – just West of West Union, Iowa, near Hawkeye. There they sell all of Country View’s products (and a few more!), and also feature serve-yourself Frozen Yogurt Cones (worth the trip!).

During the recession of 2008-2009, milk prices took a dive and feed prices increased. Many small dairy farms like ours were going out of business and we did not want to become a statistic. We also wanted to have a legacy for our two sons, Jessie and Seth, Tell us about the “leap” moment. who plan to eventually take over the farm. When/how did you decide to jump in and We traveled around the country looking at become your own boss? The Basics: Name: Dave & Carolee Rapson Business: Country View Dairy Creamery Years in Business: 10 +

Continued on next page

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Country View Dairy’s farmstore just west of West Union, Iowa, is worth the trip. / Photos courtesy Country View Dairy


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many other farmstead dairy operations, mostly making cheese, milk and ice cream, but nobody was making yogurt on the farm and a company by the name of Chobani was just starting up so the yogurt boom was beginning. We had a passion for food and had some catering experience, so it made sense to make the leap and build a creamery on the farm about 70 feet from where the cows are milked.

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Was there ever a hurdle where you just thought, “I can’t do this?” How did you overcome it? Our business was at about 50 percent Food Service when the pandemic hit in 2020. We suffered a large sudden loss of that business, and pivoted to start making some smaller retail sized packages, created a pre-packaged frozen yogurt product that did not require a soft-serve machine, and partnered with a couple of distributors in the Chicago area to make yogurt for the Farmers to Family Food Box program which supplied dairy products, vegetables and meat in the form of food boxes to food banks all over the Midwest during the first six months of the pandemic. It was a trying time for us and most other folks, but we made it through. Any mentors/role models you look to/have looked to? We had several we looked to in the early days, from our folks that helped us in the Fayette County Economic Development to our Business Consultant from Wisconsin, Jim Gage, who has been there from the beginning and still helps us today. What’s the one thing you wish you had known before you started? How much of an investment it would take to get the creamery off the ground as well as to keep the business growing. How do you manage your life/work balance? Surround yourself with good cows and good people. That helps a lot!


Summer 2022 /

What keeps you inspired? Faith & Family

Some drive-ins still use the original speakers (like this theatre in Glens Falls, NY) that hang from your car’s window to hear the movie audio. Theatres have also upgraded to FM transmission to hear the audio through your car or personal stereo. / Photo by Erin Dorbin



s the drive-in movie theatre nears its 90th anniversary, just over 300 outdoor theatres remain in the US – and only a few continue to greet carloads of moviegoers in the Driftless. One, the Starlite 14 Drive-In in Richland Center, Wisconsin, has endured through historical drama, land disputes, and digital upgrades. Auto parts professional Richard Hollingshead opened the very first American drive-in theatre in Camden, New Jersey, in 1933. His mother had complained about the uncomfortable wooden indoor theatre seats of the day. He wondered: What if you could enjoy the big screen from the comfort of your personal automobile? 64

Summer 2022 /

This idea changed moviegoing forever. In the 1950s and 60s, as American car culture took hold, over 5,000 drive-in movie theatres were built nationwide. It was the affordable option for families to attend the movies and the perfect way for teens and young adults to explore their newfound freedoms within the privacy of the automobile. But as moviegoing options of the 1970s through 2000s evolved – through VHS, DVDs, and home streaming services – the drive-in’s popularity waned. The Starlite 14, though, managed to hang on through the decades. “No matter what comes along, the theatre always comes back,”

Old newspaper clippings show a handful of movies from the past at both the indoor and outdoor theatres in Richland Center. / Photos courtesy Cindy Herbeck: “After my dad saw Smokey and the Bandit, he went out and bought a brand new black 1977 Trans Am with the eagle on it, just like the one in the show,” she says on Facebook.

Starlite 14 DRIVE-IN Rolling hills, deep valleys…and outdoor movies!

says longtime Starlite 14 Drive-In owner, turned-employee, Bill Muth. Bill “caught the bug” in 1974 after he started working as a projectionist at the Starlite 14. “Once I got hooked,” he says, “it was hard to get away.” In 1988, Bill and his wife, Lisa, purchased Richland Center’s downtown indoor theatre, the Center Theatre, and the Starlite 14 Drive-In as a package deal. “The money you made at the drive-in in the summer paid for heating the Center Theatre during the winter,” he explains. “Basically, I had two full-time jobs. While the theatres always did pay for themselves, I worked at Rockwell Automation for 43 years at the same time.” Continued on next page \ Summer 2022


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The Eskin Theatre, designed by Sarah and Jacob Eskin, opened in Richland Center in the late 1930s. / Photo courtesy Richland County History Room

And when you own a popular regional – and seasonal – tourist attraction, it’s hard to get away with your own family for a break. “Every summer we’d get 20 to 25 different state license plates on cars coming through,” Bill says with pride. “But we only took two family vacations in the 31 years we owned the theatres!” In 2019, Bill and Lisa finally took a much-deserved retirement and listed the Center and Starlite 14 theatres for sale – more on that soon. First, let’s dive into the history of these two Richland Center, Wisconsin theatres; It provides enough drama to script a drive-in double feature! The Center Theatre opened March 4, 1937 as the Eskin Theatre. It was designed and built by Sarah and Jacob Eskin, who’d previously purchased another downtown theatre in Richland Center after relocating from Milwaukee. The couple divorced that same year, and Sarah received the two theatres as part of the settlement. Local lore suggests Jacob granted Sarah the theatres as an attempt to overwhelm her rather than as an equal splitting of assets. Their marriage was by all accounts a tumultuous one and Sarah was granted the divorce on the grounds of cruelty. Yet, Sarah did well in the theatre business and acquired land east of Richland Center to build the area’s first drive-in. In a deed signed August 28, 1951, Sarah was granted a lifetime lease on a 20-acre parcel of a family dairy farm for $15,000. The Hi-Way 14 Outdoor Theater opened on May 6, 1952. Sadly, the following year Sarah passed away in her home after working one Friday evening at her drive-in. So what would happen to her drive-in? One of the most fascinating parts of the history is that 1951 deed. It states that the land must be forever used as a drive-in theatre. If it ever ceased to be used for this purpose, the title would revert to the grantor, his heirs, or assigns. These unique terms manufactured many courtroom dramas and periods of suspense after Sarah’s death. The Supreme Court of Wisconsin heard multiple cases against her estate to challenge and re-interpret the terms of the lifetime lease. Yet, the drive-in operates today on those original 20 acres. Elsewhere in the Midwest, drive-in theatres succumbed to a major

Tours & Experiences in Richland County, WI



development boom in the 1990s and 2000s. Those former theatres became tract homes and sites for big box retailers, such as Walmart. Over the years, the Richland Center drivein evolved alongside technology and its community, including a name change – Hi-way 14 became Starlite 14 – in the late 1970s. And in The Starlite 14 at sunset. 2013-2014, during the / Photo courtesy Starlite 14 national industry-wide conversion from 35mm film to expensive new digital projection, Bill and Lisa poured their hearts and finances into keeping both the indoor and outdoor community screens from going dark. Many small theatres couldn’t afford the transition. Richland Center resident, Sheila Troxel, remembers, “We all knew what a vital part the theatres were in our community. That’s why when Bill and Lisa needed to modernize projection, we all came together.” In a collective show of support, 80 community members each loaned the theatres $1000 in a zero-interest contract with Bill and Lisa to cover the roughly $80,000 digital conversion costs for the two theatres. “Quite honestly, at that time, we felt it was something we’d never get paid back, but we weren’t doing it for that reason,” Sheila says. “But, sure enough they were able to raise the money and slowly one-by-one pay everyone back.” Continued on next page

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Drive-ins and pop-up theatres became popular again during the pandemic. Writer Erin Dobin organized this one before that, though, in 2013 in Milwaukee, WI. / Photo by Erin Dorbin

The drive-in was saved, again – for a time. Remember, in 2019, after the successful effort to upgrade and save the theatres, Bill and Lisa were ready to retire. They listed the Starlite Drive-In business and the Center Theatre for sale, yet the enduring terms of the drive-in’s lifetime land lease meant that if the theatres did not sell and reopen within the year, the drive-in would be lost forever. Enter Richland Center natives Holly and Tony Johnson and their friend Brent Montry. They purchased the two theatres in 2020 ahead of an unexpected national drive-in theatre revival. During the pandemic, pop-up drive-ins popped up everywhere, from big city rooftops to parking lots to private backyards. In fact, the same Walmart stores that developed former Midwestern drive-in theatre

land were now opening their own pop-up drive-in movie theatres in their large parking lots! The drive-in had come full circle. Sheila praises the new ownership team for thinking outside the box. “They were so supportive of all of the other community businesses and events that were also struggling and they asked, ‘How can we help?’” During the height of the pandemic, Starlite 14 hosted events that couldn’t be held elsewhere indoors – everything from dance recitals to farming events. They even erected a permanent stage for performances below the movie screen. “We don’t see ourselves as owners, we see ourselves as stewards,” says co-owner Tony Johnson.

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retirement. He stays busy working maintenance and In a recent radio interview, greeting neighbors, friends, and first-timers at the Richland Center’s director of ticket booth. The ticket booth is Tony’s favorite spot, tourism, Marty Richards, reveals too. “It’s like being the bartender at Cheers!” he “did a little jig” when Tony, Holly, and Brent purchased the Erin saw her first movie at theatres. He just knew they’d bring the drive-in in 1997. She caught new ideas and innovation to the the theatre bug and traveled to format. photograph every remaining drive-in Just shy of their second year of she possibly could. In 2008, she was stewardship, the Starlite 14 and hired to document the theatres of the Center Theatre were named the Erie Canalway in New York state 2022’s Businesses of the Year where she snapped this polaroid of by Richland Rejuvenates, a local Midway Drive-In Theatre in Oswego, NY. She calls Houston, MN home. booster group. “I think they’ve taken the drivein to a whole new level,” confirms DRIFTLESS DRIVE-IN SUMMER! Sheila. Starlite 14 Drive-In, U.S. Highway 14, Richland New programs at the Starlite Center, WI. Want to participate in the Starlite 14 include live performances, Market? Contact Tony Johnson at trieliteholding@ The Starlite 14 marquee displays an upcoming livestreamed concerts, and a Have another idea? “We’re open to movie & Starlite Market in May 2022. Saturday Starlite Market running / Photo courtesy Starlite 14 anything!” Tony says. Track upcoming movies and May 14 through October 29. The more at and Market is open to all vendors and starlite14drivein will include food trucks and other local goods. “In a small town we can complain about what we don’t have, but Big Sky Twin Drive-In, N9199 Winnebago Rd, Wisconsin Dells, WI we should celebrate what we do have,” Tony says. Get the latest at Ask Tony about his earliest memories at the Starlite 14 and he’ll tell you about the time he got ejected from the drive-in as a rowdy Highway 61 Drive-In, 1228 US-61, Delmar, IA. Just south of teen. “I got kicked out by Bill!” he remembers, laughing. Maquoketa, IA. Dennis Voy celebrates his 50th year of ownership in All is forgiven and Bill remains hooked by the drive-in, even in 2022! Stay up-to-date at



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uring warm summer evenings, as the sun tumbles and stars rise from their daytime slumber, a lightshow below the horizon unfolds. A single spark, then two, herald the performance. Within minutes, the flickers crescendo. As owls and bats begin nocturnal rituals, fireflies emerge by the hundreds to dance brightly, silently punctuating the darkness with tiny sparks. Bioluminescence – the production of light by living creatures – adds a tincture of magic to our backyards. The ability to generate and emit light is widespread in nature, particularly in marine realms. Plankton, jellyfish, and even fish dwelling in the stygian darkness of deep oceans, blink, flicker, and glow. Continued on next page

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On dry land, fireflies send bright pulses of biological morse code skyward. The purpose of bioluminescence varies by species. For some, it advertises unpalatability – “I’m bitter, don’t eat me.” For others, like deep sea fish, glowing appendages lure unsuspecting prey toward jaws filled with sharp teeth. Fireflies, on the other hand, use light as the language of love, a seductive semaphore intended to attract mates. Fireflies are classified as beetles. Numbering more than 400,000 species (and counting!), beetles comprise almost 25 percent of all known organisms on Earth. Of that total, 2000 species are fireflies. Distributed across the planet, they burn brightly on every continent except Antarctica. Closer to home, more than 100 species inhabit North America, most found east of the Mississippi River. Life is not always glamorous for these six-legged luminaries. They begin as tiny eggs deposited in damp mulch or leaf litter. After hatching, larvae live a subterranean existence, voraciously hunting slugs, snails, and earthworms. Depending on the species, up to two years is spent in the root zone. Larval fireflies, like their adult counterparts, are bioluminescent and often referred to as glow worms. Adult life is short and to the point – mate and expire. In what may be the best example of an insect dating app, males fly slowly over fields and woodland edges while emitting brief flashes of light to attract females. The flash pattern varies by species. Females, ever cautious, watch while concealed in vegetation. When Mr. Bright flies by, a receptive female flashes her interest. After a brief exchange of wattage to seal the deal, mating ensues, eggs are laid, and the cycle begins anew. Unfortunately, firefly populations are blinking out. Habitat loss, pesticides, and light pollution that interfere with mating are conspiring to drive their numbers down. Losing the little lights of summer is unthinkable. Thankfully, we can take action to help our flickering friends. Here’s how: • Create firefly homes by planting beautiful gardens filled with native plants. • Leave the leaves and let logs rot. Both provide important habitat for larval fireflies. Remember – they eat pesky slugs and snails. • Make the Driftless dark by turning off outside lights. Motion detectors can address safety concerns. • Stop mowing all that lawn. Let some revert to habitat for fireflies and other wildlife. • Refrain from using lawn chemicals. Lightening bugs are an iconic part of our natural heritage. By taking a few simple steps, we can ensure their enchanting backyard lightshows burn brightly for future generations. Mary Thompson has degrees in Fine Arts and Education. She has delighted in the creative arts since her first box of crayons. She considers a lawn chair, lemonade, and lightning bugs to be the perfect summer trifecta. She teaches art lessons to adventurous adults using a variety of media. Craig Thompson is a professional biologist with a penchant for birds dating back to a time when gas was $0.86 cents a gallon. Some day he hopes to be as bright as his backyard fireflies.

Artwork by Mary Thompson \ Summer 2022




Summer 2022 /




f you got in your car, starting at Kenmore Square in Boston, and drove west on Historic Route 20, about halfway across the country you’ll enter the 333 miles that run straight through Iowa. There you’ll find the 9th Street SE exit for Dyersville (watch for the National Farm Toy Museum sign.) Although Dyersville, population 4,650, is often referenced alongside a certain famous baseball movie quote, it’s way more than that. It’s a vibrant community of entrepreneurs that are helping this rural town slide into home plate for the next generation. (Oh come on, you didn’t think we’d let it go that easy, did you?!). Continued on next page

Downtown Dyersville, Iowa. / Photo by Benji Nichols \ Summer 2022



Summer 2022 /

Textile Brewery utilizes pieces from the building’s history throughout the business. Lighting fixtures, button collections, and old sewing machine parts create interest and tell a story. / Photo by Benji Nichols

But in all seriousness, the Field of Dreams movie site is absolutely worth a visit. In fact, as this story came together, a massive $80 million development deal has been announced for the site, in addition to an annual MLB game, which is all downright exciting. And of course, you really must take in the history of Fred Ertl Sr at the National Toy Museum as well, founder of Ertl Toys, and much more. But if we were to re-write that famous Field of Dreams line, an even better version to describe Dyersville might be, “If She builds it…”. You see, historically, women entrepreneurs have set the pace in Dyersville – both out of necessity and vision. For over a century, Dyersville was the home to one of HB Glover Companies sewing and manufacturing facilities – providing jobs and careers for women of all ages (yes, mostly women), who were not afraid to stand up for themselves while creating such iconic American brands as Brighton-Carlsbad Sleeping-wear, as well as flannel shirts provided to US troops in World War One. While the BrightonCarlsbad line was sold by department stores from coast to coast midcentury, the women of HB Glover’s factories organized themselves, and even led the strike of 1916. This strike would later prompt the Richard Bissell novel 7 1/2 Cents, which also led to the smash Broadway Musical The Pajama Game. The building that housed HB Glover in Dyersville operated in one capacity or another as a sewing factory from 1910 to 2017. After that, the facility was mothballed until entrepreneurs Carol Miller and Tom Olberding saw a vision for turning this rich historical building into a hub for the community – while preserving that history, all through the lens of Craft Beer. Textile Brewing has done just that, even branching off to help develop other creative rehab projects such as the Corner Taproom in Cascade (which also has a Happy Joe’s Pizza Counter in the other half of the building!), and the freshly opened TapHaus in Atkins, just west of Cedar Rapids. The Brewery has fully embraced its history, complete This mural is by Ashley Althoff at the Corner with furniture Taproom in Cascade. / Photo by Benji Nichols built from original factory pieces and lighting constructed by Dyersville toy designer Chris Huisman of RetroPurposed. The place oozes of modern beers and fantastic history, with informational pieces throughout the Continued on next page

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Textile Brewery marries modern and historical inside and out. / Photo by Ashley Althoff


Summer 2022 /

taproom. It is also one of the first Gold Certified “Green Breweries” in Iowa, and has a forward vision for utilizing local grains and ingredients in their beers – such as the Re-gen (regenerative) Rye Red, Cascade Blonde, and the Breslau Style Schoeps which features over 70 percent Iowa grown wheat. Just around the corner on 1st Avenue, Savvy Salvage, a wildly creative upcycling and “junk” business opened in 2010, is run by Heidi Huisman (Chris Huisman’s partner in life and adventures). Heidi’s family lineage in the self-proclaimed “garbage business” led her work in salvage long before it was “chic.” Keep an eye out for Chris’ lighting pieces there, as well as Karri Parrott’s “The Bird’s Nest,” creating one-of-akind furniture pieces sealed with Earth Safe Finishes. The store also acts as home base for the “Historic Route 20” Association’s Iowa chapter, with information, souvenirs, and more. Across the street at Brew & Brew, Becca Miller and her crew crank out all things homemade and delicious in what has become another hub for the community. After working in the Ag Tech and cattle breeding business, with a degree in Beef Production, Becca, then 24, saw the opportunity to purchase the coffee shop and make a difference in her hometown. So in 2017 she jumped in and never looked back. The business not only survived, but thrived during the pandemic through small town support. Becca continues to show the town love through creative baking, breakfast and lunch menus (try the Acreage Panini!), and custom cookies. And while modern Highway 20 has defined the outskirts of Dyersville, the thriving downtown is still the kind of place one would have found on Historic Route 20 back in the day – where you can buy a new outfit at Jennifer Recker’s J&R Fashions, pick up a new pair of shoes at Reicher’s, and meet up for a quick meal at the Palace Saloon, Chad’s Pizza, or Abby Sejdini’s freshly modernized Dyersville Family Restaurant – all within about two blocks. In fact, right on the 200 block is Keri Knipper’s just-remodeled Uptown Hair – in a building that has served as a barber shop or salon for more than 120 years. Beyond the physical investments, Dyersville is also making good on giving young people, and those with “young” ideas chances to shine. The sum of these efforts is not only helping Dyersville succeed in rural Iowa, but also helping show young adults that the town is actually a great place to live. Take social artist Ashley Althoff, an Eastern Iowa native, who attended Upper Iowa University, but saw

Top: Heidi Huisman organizes at Savvy Salvage, a fun upcycling and “junk” business downtown. Middle: A view out the window of Brew & Brew, a coffee shop in Dyersville. Bottom: Dyersville is on the Historic Route 20 across America. / Photos by Benji Nichols

the chance to put her graphic design and art skills to work in the place she grew up. From an Americorps project that kept her local, she quickly became engaged in projects and jobs with Elkader’s Art in the Park, the Clayton County Energy District, and telling the story of Textile Brewing as marketing manager. This is the type of creative work that can keep young, engaged Iowans plugged into their rural communities, while making real impact. The town has rallied to help foster the self-employed and those chasing their ideas. The Dyersville Innovation Lab is a collaborative project of the Rural Ideas Network, Dyersville Economic Development, Chamber of Commerce, Community Foundation, Dubuque County, and Dupaco Credit Union. The Lab hosts coworking space, business coaching, roundtables, and more. They are now one of five locations featuring the Innovation Lab model, including one in Northeast Iowa, Lansing Office Works, opened in 2021 (read about that facility on pg 24). So as the seasons bring in “baseball weather” – keep Dyersville in mind for a perfect road trip. It’s true, the 1989 hit film Field of Dreams helped put Dyersville on the modern Iowa map, and will inevitably continue to bring the fans – but we’d argue that it’s the dynamic, often female lead folks of Dyersville who continue to make it special. And no, this is not heaven…. It’s Iowa, and there’s really good beer too. Benji Nichols is a bi-coastal, Iowa Boomerang (BIB? Is that a thing?). He loves getting to help tell the stories of our region – and has also started a new podcast – Rhymes With Decorah. Check it out online at: \ Summer 2022


Going on a Dyersville Day Trip? Check out before you go, and put these fun spots on your to-do list!

Basilica of St. Francis Xavier (pictured right) Shining out 200 feet over Dyersville, the twin spires of the Basilica of St. Francis Xavier mark the tenacity of founding German immigrants to Dyersville. Since 1889, this Catholic Church has served thousands of parishioners, having been bestowed the “Basilica” title (one of 53 in the US) by His Holiness Pope Pius XII. Check it out, just at the edge of the downtown district on 3rd Street SW.

Field of Dreams Movie Site Filmed on the Kinsella Family Farm, visit the place that helped the rest of the world understand that this is heaven. National Farm Toy Museum (pictured right) What Iowa kid’s upbringing would be complete without the innovations of Fred Ertl Sr? A union journeyman mold maker and Steward at the Adams Company in Dubuque, Ertl began making toy tractors in the 1940s from his basement furnace using sand from the river and used airplane pistons while the company went on strike, and through pioneering licensing work built a die-cast toy empire. The Museum tells Ertl’s story, and many more, and also hosts the National Farm Toy Show the first week of June in Dyersville. Explore thousands of tractors and farm toys, as well as the incredible work of wooden toy creator Bernie Kluesner, 100 years of John Deere through Farm Toys, and more.

Textile Brewing Company Fun, beautifully restored, environmentally conscious brewery in an old sewing factory! Come for the beer, stay for the giant Bavarian pretzels, and don’t miss the historic displays all around the taproom. Dog friendly seasonal biergarten – tell them Inspire(d) sent you! Brew & Brew (pictured left) Local Coffee, breakfast, and lunch shop. Don’t miss the beautiful cookies that owner Becca Miller decorates in her “spare time” – the treats, sandwiches, salads, and coffee are all just exactly what you need.


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Savvy Salvage We love this super fun “junk” shop! Owner Heidi Huisman is an artist, curates beautiful pieces in her shop, and is a treasure herself. This shop also acts as the HQ for Iowa’s “Historic Route 20” representation. Don’t miss it! TOMY Factory Store Through a series of conglomerations and sales, the TOMY Company now owns Ertl Toys, amongst many other brands you’d recognize. The Factory store is a fun spot to make a quick shopping stop. Check out “TOMY Outlet Store” on Facebook. O So Good Winery Just on the Southwest side of Dyersville – this Iowa Winery offers up a great variety of wines spanning a wide pallet of styles and flavors. Occasional music, fun atmosphere, and Chad’s Pizza make for a nice stop. Dyer-Botsford House Built by the founder of Dyersville, James Dyer. The House is now a museum featuring artifacts, displays, and beautiful antiques, including over 2,000 dolls! FUSE Dyersville, Sports Bar, Wine Lounge housed in 100 year old hotel and former industrial space. Opened in March 2022 by Tara Rahe with the intention of helping fuse the new and old sides of Dyersville. Heritage Trail – Take a ride on this 30-mile route to explore the Upper Midwest’s most scenic all-season trail from Dyersville to Dubuque. Follow the path of a once bustling railroad into a 450-foot deep valley, past old mining and mill towns. Discover the rugged beauty that welcomes thousands of bicyclists and hikers each year. Day Trip Add-ons: From the north – Take backroads to the Hill Country Convenience Store and Every’s Auto & Tire in Colesburg. It might be one of the best examples of small town resourcefulness in Eastern Iowa. Worth the extra 15 miles – Drive to Cascade, Iowa (pop, 2100) to check out the Corner Tap (Craft Beer Bar) and connected Happy Joe’s Pizza. If this isn’t a grown-up-Iowa-kid’s dream, nothing is. The project was actually a collaboration between three businesses, the City of Cascade, and the State, and it is a beacon of what small town redevelopment can look like. Hot tip – Chery’s Flour Garden Bakery is across the street and also worth the trip (but only open until 2pm!).

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Viola Linderbaum

Interviewed by daughter Dianne Ameling

Viola Linderbaum turned 89 in April of 2022. She presently lives at the Ossian Senior Hospice nursing home. She lived on a farm south of Ossian from 1953-1996, and then moved to Ossian and lived in the same house that her grandparents and parents had also lived in during their retirement years. We had great fun (not really) cleaning out that house during COVID when we hauled out things from back to the 1940s! What’s the best advice anyone ever gave you? My dad, Elmer Lien, told me “Work hard, have a good attitude, don’t be a quitter!” and “Don’t forget church and Sunday School are important.” and “Make sure you have good, honest friends.” How about the worst? I don’t remember getting any bad advice. What did you want to be when you grew up? I thought about being a school teacher in my younger years but after teaching a class of Bible School, I decided that wasn’t my thing. Viola on the front of the tractor with all her siblings. They referred to themselves as the Iowa version of the Beverly Hillbillies (whose last name was Clampett) because it was like the Clampetts, gathered on their old rickety truck only in this case, it was the tractor.

What do/did you do? After high school, I went to work at Sid’s Steak House in Decorah. I met a lot of people while working there. There were three of them whom were telephone operators at Bell Telephone. I really thought I might like that job so I applied and got the job. I worked there from 1951-1953. I was lucky operator #13. I really enjoyed this work. In 1953, I was married and we moved to the farm where I became a farm wife and mother. There were always plenty of chores to do along with milking cows and preparing food for anyone who stopped by the farm or was there for threshing and later combining etc. We had a son, Dennis, and daughter, Dianne. If you were stranded on a desert island, what three things would you want with you? My Bible, Coffee, and my Grandpad! (Sidenote: Viola’s nephew and grandnephew – Scott and Isaac Lien – invented the Grandpad and Viola is a “Grand Advisor” and tests out some of the apps before they go live. Scott calls her every Sunday.) Try to describe yourself in one sentence. I always try to have a positive attitude and patience. If you could eat anything every day for the rest of your life, what would it be? Lutefisk with lots of butter and lefse with sugar on! Name one thing you could not live without. My family

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Tell us about your wedding day. My wedding day was a cold day in February (February 22, 1953). All of my siblings as well as my husband’s siblings were in the wedding along with some of our friends. There were probably 150 people there and Springfield Lutheran Church was full. We held a candlelight ceremony at 7 pm on a Sunday night. After the ceremony, we went to the church basement and had sandwiches, fancy cookies, and cake and ice cream. Our wedding colors were blue and rose and the men wore gray suits – not tuxedos. The rehearsal dinner was at my parents’ home the night before. Afterward, we left for our honeymoon to Des Moines and some other Iowa stops. Our wedding cake was made by a lady from Ridgeway. She used pans she bought at the hardware store that were meant to feed or water livestock in various sizes to make the tiers of the cake so it looked like the bride and groom were descending down stair steps – pretty unusual for that time and many others had this lady bake their cakes afterward. We had little nut cups that we made with paper flower petals at the head table to hold nuts and mints as was popular at the time. We made big white bows for all the pews in church but it was nothing like some of the wedding productions you see today. My friend was there all Sunday afternoon helping place the bows and putting flowers out. We were married for 61 years before my husband passed away in 2014.

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