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A must for your travel bucket list THE FORGE BREWHOUSE A Perfect Pairing


Museum exhibit studies how dogs evolved to be man’s best friend

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6 PRAGUE A must for your travel bucket list 12 HARNESSING THE HEALING POWER OF HORSES HorsePower Therapeutic Riding 18 THE FORGE BREWHOUSE A Perfect Pairing 24 BETH FOWLER SCHOOL OF DANCE Teaching generations to move through life with grace 26 WHISKEY ACRES Unveil Visitor Center Additions 31 ‘FOR THE LOVE OF HUMANS’ Museum exhibit studies how dogs evolved to be man’s best friend

est. 1851

Project Manager: Lisa Angel Layout & Design: Allison LaPorta Photography: DM Herra, Stephen Haberkorn, Michael Embrey, and Photos By Andra Writer: DM Herra & Stephen Haberkorn Articles and advertisements are property of Shaw Media. No portion of DC Magazine may be produced without written consent of the publisher.

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7-10 MAR










MAY est. 1851






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When Americans talk about “bucket list” cities in Europe they most want to visit, London, Paris, and Rome are most-frequently mentioned—along with Berlin, Venice, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Vienna and others. But there is a reason that Prague, the capital city of the Czech Republic, is the fourth-most visited European city and was ranked #7 by Trip Advisor on their list of top travel destinations in the entire world.

The city of about 1.3 million people, located in the center of the Czech Republic between Germany and Poland, offers old world beauty, history, and culture and never fails to impress those fortunate to pay it a visit. “Prague was never on my bucket list,” said Michael Embrey, owner of FunME Events in DeKalb. “I had an opportunity to go over on a short visit and I was thoroughly blown away by the architecture. Prague was one of the most picturesque cities I’ve ever been to.” First and foremost, Prague is a city with amazing architecture. Because it is over a thousand years old and did not suffer as

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much damage during World War II as other European cities, there are excellent examples of buildings in Prague from many different periods and styles. From Romanesque rotundas and Gothic cathedrals, to Baroque palaces and chateaus, to modern gems, Prague is an architectural dream. Although Prague is nicknamed “the City of a Hundred Spires,” there are actually almost a thousand towers and spires within its boundaries. Among the many castles perched on top of hills around the city is Prague Castle, with its famous Gothic spires. Covering

over 700,000 square feet, Prague Castle is the largest ancient castle in the world. Within the Prague Castle complex is St. Vitus Cathedral and St. George’s Basilica, the Old Royal Palace, the Royal Garden and much more.

all was amazing,” said Maertz. “You felt like you were a part of history, something way older than what America could ever give you. It was absolutely phenomenal.”

Vicki Maertz and Kathy Craft of DeKalb visited Prague with a group of 12-15 people and were equally impressed by the buildings they saw.

Maertz was especially amazed by the beautiful cathedrals in Prague. “The intracy, the artwork, marble everywhere, the gold, the figurines and the stained glass windows, it was just breathtaking,” said Maertz.

“Walking down the street and feeling like you were part of something so old and respected—. what people took the time to do and to build—just the beauty of it

Another highlight of Prague for Embrey was the music. Prague offers ample opportunities to take in a wide array of musical styles. The Prague Symphony

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Orchestra is renowned throughout the world and many churches have free concerts in the evenings where you can hear performances of classical string quartets and brass sextets. The city is also well-known for its jazz and blues music, as the clubs there attract talented musicians from all over. And for the younger crowd, Prague has trendy nightclubs as well. During the early summer, Prague also hosts the United Islands Music Festival that features over 100 performers on 15 different stages. Prague is situated on the Vltava River, and the over thirty bridges spanning the river create many picturesque vistas. The most popular of these overpasses is the Charles Bridge, a medieval pedestrian walkway crowded with statues, artists, vendors, and musicians. “You could spend hours on the bridge,” said Craft. The banks of the river contain scenic walkways, where both locals and tourists stroll and stop at markets and exhibitions. There is also a wall near the Charles Bridge where people have painted tributes to John Lennon of the Beatles. It was started shortly after he was killed. The main gathering place in Prague, in addition to the Charles Bridge, is the Old Town Square. Every hour, crowds gather to see and hear the world-famous medieval astronomical clock on the side of the Old Town Hall. Besides the many vendors and street performers in the square, you’ll see two monuments to martyrs. In the center is a statue of religious reformer, Jan Hus, who was burned at the stake in 1415. In front of the Old Town Hall are crosses honoring 27 martyrs who were beheaded on that spot in 1621 after the Bohemian Revolt. On weekends, The Týn Church on the square will set up a stage and have music that the locals come and enjoy, creating a festival-like feel. Right off the square are little cobblestone roads lined with shops.

PRAGUE LIVING While there is lots to see and do in Prague, many who visit comment on its laid-back feel and relaxed, welcoming environment. Connie Haywood, a travel professional who checked out the city with Embrey and came back later with a group, noted that the people in the Czech Republic’s capital are friendly and she never felt unsafe there. Maertz and Craft, likewise, said that nobody in their large group had any issues for the eight days they were in Prague. “There’s not a lot of crime there at all,” said Maertz. The official language in the Czech Republic is Czech, but Slovak, Polish, French, German, Russian, and English are commonly spoken in Prague. It is especially easy to find someone speaking English in the tourist areas. “What I noticed about Prague was the number of young people there that were in their 20s,” said Haywood. “It was nice to see so many young people all over, touring and walking. It’s very popular for bachelor and bachelorette parties, although I didn’t stay up to see how good of a time they had late at night.”

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Prague is an easy city to walk to many of the beautiful sights. For someone in a wheelchair or a walker, though, the many cobblestone streets could pose problems. Even though it’s an old city without square blocks, navigation is not difficult because you can use the steeples and taller buildings as reference points.

the city. In fact, the Czech Republic has the highest per capita beer consumption in the world.

Maertz and Craft’s group hit some places off the beaten path in order to experience more of the local culture. “You could walk [many] miles and go see something different, or you could stay close and still see a bunch of stuff,” said Maertz.

A fun treat you can find from the sidewalk vendors in the tourist areas is called Trdelník. It’s dough baked on a wooden spindle over a fire, topped with a sugar and walnut mix, and then filled with chocolate, ice cream or something else sweet. “It was heavenly and not like anything I’ve had in other European cities,” said Haywood.


Embrey described the cuisine in Prague as “traditional old world food.” According to Embrey, they eat a lot of hearty soups and meats, breads, and baked goods, although often in smaller portions. “The soup was like a goulash,” said Craft. “It was delicious.” You can also drink lots of excellent beer in the many pubs and breweries around

“The food was amazing,” said Maertz. “It was so wholesome and so good and you could tell everywhere you went you were eating a recipe that was passed down for generations.”

The little sidewalk cafes are very popular in Prague. Embrey and Haywood went in June and they said that the sidewalk cafes were often full.


Prague offers many things you can do with your children. For instance, you can take a steamship from the city centre to

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The Clementinum is a large group of beautiful Baroque buildings that is home to the National Library. The National Library contains over 6 million documents, including older material from Turkey, Iran and India.

THE CHURCH OF OUR LADY BEFORE TÝN One of Prague’s most recognizable buildings because of its twin 80-meter spires, Týn Church was completed in the 15th century.


the Prague Zoo, considered one of the most beautiful zoos in the world. There is a Toy Museum located within Prague Castle that has toys from around the world and a large collection of Barbie dolls. Around the city are also many historic gardens and parks, often with scenic views.

CONCLUSION Haywood recommends planning at least three full days of touring and sightseeing in order to adequately experience Prague. “Definitely put it on your to-visit bucket list,” said Haywood. “It’s a fantastic city. I’d go back again in short notice and enjoy a long weekend there or add it on to other cities in Europe.” Since Maertz and Craft went with people who had gone to Prague many times and knew residents there, they stayed in rented apartments, rather than hotels. They ended up paying less than $1000 for airfare and lodging during their eight day vacation, not including food—making it extremely affordable. The people they traveled with had been all over the world, but they would visit Prague 2-3 times a year because it was their favorite place to go. “I’ve been telling people ever since I went, if you ever have the opportunity you have to go at least once in your life to experience it,” said Maertz.

Housed among several palaces and a convent, the National Gallery in Prague houses some of Europe’s most important art collections.

WENCESLAS SQUARE Located in the New Town district, it is one of the city’s most important public gathering places and is used for celebrations as well as demonstrations. It is home to the National Museum, many other important buildings, and some of the best restaurants and stores in the city.

THE MUNICIPAL HOUSE Beautiful Art Nouveau building built in 1912 is home to Prague’s largest concert hall, as well as some cafés and restaurants.

THE JEWISH QUARTER Historic district includes the Jewish Museum, consisting of several synagogues, a ceremonial hall, a gallery, and the Old Jewish Cemetery.

THE DANCING HOUSE Prague’s most recognizable modern building was designed by Frank Gehry and completed in 1996. The structure resembles two dancing figures.

THE STRAHOV MONASTERY The second oldest monastery in Prague, dating back to the 12th century, contains two beautifully decorated Baroque Libraries where many rare books and manuscripts are stored.



THE PETRÍN LOOKOUT TOWER This miniature replica of the Eiffel Tower in Paris stands on a hill and offers panoramic views of Prague.


THE NATIONAL THEATRE The historic building hosts opera, ballet, and drama performances.

Dating back to the 10th century, it was once a royal residence. Now mostly ruins, it stands high above the Vltava River overlooking the city.

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Harnessing the

Healing Power of Horses By: Stephen Haberkorn

Horsepower is used to measure the rate at which work is done. The work that they do at HorsePower Therapeutic Riding in Maple Park, though, cannot be quantitatively measured.

organization now works with 55 students, has a short waiting list for evening and weekend sessions, and initiated a capital campaign to purchase their own farm or stable.

“I’ve watched lots of kids come through here and I’ve seen the difference when they’re in the arena and when they’re in the hallway or outside. When they are on the horse, you can just see what happens to them. It’s almost magical,” said Cherry Potts of DeKalb, whose granddaughter, Hailey Lawson, has been taking riding lessons at HorsePower for over five years.

Using horses for therapy is not a new thing. Hippotherapy has been around since ancient times, as the word itself originated from the Greek word for horse. But HorsePower is a little different, in that instead of just using a horse as part of a therapy session, they are actually teaching their students how to ride a horse and in many cases to even compete in equestrian competitions.

Since beginning in March of 2012, the riding instructors and volunteers at HorsePower have harnessed the healing power of horses to help hundreds of adults and children with a variety of disabilities improve themselves physically, mentally, emotionally, and socially. Co-founders, Carrie Capes and Justin Yahnig, started out with just four students at Fox Chase Farms in Maple Park, where they rent space and horses four days a week. The non-profit

Hailey Lawson, 15, who is a sophomore at DeKalb High School, doesn’t let her cerebral palsy prevent her from living an active life. One of the effects of cerebral palsy is that it makes the muscles tighten, so riding a horse helps Lawson to stretch her limbs, as well as strengthening her core. Upon leaving her 45-minute riding session on Wednesdays, she races back to the high school for Sparkle Cheer Team practice.

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But apart from the physical benefits, Lawson really enjoys being around the animals and looks forward to her riding lessons each week as a recreational outlet. And as her riding proficiency increases, her self-confidence grows. She also looks forward to seeing the friends she’s made at HorsePower. “It’s really good for her in every aspect,” said Potts. All of the instructors at HorsePower are certified by the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship (PATH) and all the hands-on volunteers are required to have two-years of experience working with horses and pass a skills test during their orientation. In addition to being knowledgeable and skilled, though, the instructors and volunteers also take a genuine interest in each of their students. When Lawson was in a wheelchair dance group, both her riding instructor and one of the volunteers purchased tickets and came to watch her perform at the Egyptian Theatre. “That meant so much to her,” said Potts, “They’re just awesome.” Seven-year-old Ty Wernicke of Sycamore has been taking riding lessons at HorsePower for three years. He has autism spectrum disorder and his pediatrician in DeKalb recommended therapeutic riding. His family doesn’t own horses, but they have other livestock. “He loves animals,” said his mother, Christina Sjulstad. “Animals are his life. That’s why we felt this would be a good fit for him.” Sjulstad said that they have seen many benefits from Ty’s riding lessons. “Definitely, with the autism spectrum, it’s helped him focus, even is it’s just for the 30-45 minutes on the horse,” Sjulstad said. “At home, we can implement some of the wording that they use.” When Ty first started riding they had volunteers on both sides of the horse. Then they went down to one sidewalker and one person leading the horse, and they are getting closer to him riding independently. He has twice competed in horse shows. “Everybody is fantastic,” said Sjulstad. “They really are like family. Barb has been his instructor since his second lesson. They have such a bond. And

all the volunteers are so great. One of the volunteers used to bring the kids a little present every time they rode and donated a saddle to the barn in their name. It’s just a great program.” For 8-year-old Daegan Scott of of Cortland, riding lessons at HorsePower give him an opportunity to overcome the communication issues he faces because because of autism. His grandfather, Thomas Scott of Sycamore, did some research into programs locally that could help someone with autism and found the Maple Park organization. Scott said they have been coming to HorsePower for a couple years and find it is helping Daegan better communicate and socialize. “His issue is being able to communicate verbally,” said Scott. “So horsepower is helping him develop that in another way.” Even though Daegan has difficulty communicating verbally, it is clear that he enjoys his weekly time on the horse. “When I come to the house and I say, ‘We’re going horseback riding,’ he gets all excited and he’s ready to go,” said Scott. The great thing about horseback riding for someone with autism in particular is that they are able to develop a connection with the animal nonverbally. They also learn respect, responsibility and appropriate behavior when interacting with animals—in addition to the physical benefits of horse riding. And because HorsePower utilizes an instructor and three volunteers for each session, the students don’t require a personal assistant to be with them. That also helps give the family members a needed break while the HorsePower staff conducts the lesson. “I would recommend this program to anyone that has a special needs family member as an outlet for enjoyment as well as some skill building,” said Scott. One only needs to speak with HorsePower founder, Carrie Capes, to understand what makes their program so successful. If there were ever an example of someone fulfilling a lifetime mission she was destined for, it would be Capes. While growing up in the Western Suburbs, her mother worked in long-term

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care, so Carrie was raised pushing wheelchairs at zoos and feeding residents at parties. She even helped start a pet therapy program at the DuPage Convalescent Center in Wheaton. “The world of disabilities has always been very normal to my family,” Capes said. After graduating from college with a degree in Therapeutic Recreation, Capes worked at Central DuPage Hospital in their psych department, did an internship in physical rehab and worked in prevention at Ben Gordon Center, coordinating their Operation Snowball program and serving as a sexual assault and abuse counselor. While her family didn’t own any horses growing up, she did take riding lessons in high school and college. She didn’t combine her work and horses, though, until after her son, Max, was born with a genetic mitochondrial disorder—which caused him to have hearing and cognitive impairment and developmental delays.

They tried all kinds of therapy with Max—physical therapy, occupational therapy, developmental therapy, speech therapy. He even did hyperbaric oxygen therapy. But the first time that Max rode a horse they knew that it was going to be important for him. “It was the most empowering, beneficial therapy we’d ever done for him,” said Capes. “Nothing was as fun, as exciting, as engaging for Max as riding horses. He loves animals. He loves the interaction with the volunteers and the instructors.” Max is 18 now and has been riding since he was eight. Capes was spurred to get back into horseback riding and become a PATH certified instructor so she could better teach her son. She had been doing special education substitute teaching for about five years in the Kaneland School District when they began the therapeutic riding program, and within a few months she was working with HorsePower full-time. She currently works 50-60

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hours per week giving riding lessons and doing other work for the nonprofit organization. “I would strongly advise anybody with any kind of learning or physical disability [to try HorsePower],” said Potts. “They can make it work for just about anybody and adapt to anything.”


PRIVATE AND SEMI-PRIVATE LESSONS FOR ADULTS & CHILDREN: PRIVATE: 90 min. $120 / 60 min. $100/ 45 min. $80 / 30 min. $60 SEMI-PRIVATE: 90 min. $100 / 60 min. $90 / 45 min. $70 / 30 min. $50

Being an adapted sport, recreation activity and an alternative form of therapy, therapeutic horseback riding is typically not covered by health insurance companies. Therefore, their lesson program costs are currently funded through individual student family payment and community support. Some people use their flex spending account to pay for lessons. A sliding scale of fees can be made

available to riders who apply and qualify for scholarship support. They funded $33,000 in scholarship lessons in 2018. Their lessons are currently about 50/50 paying vs. scholarship. For their scholarship application, applicants need to prove that the person has both a disability need and a financial need. HorsePower instructors have experience with: Hearing & Vision Impairment, Sensory Integration Disorder, Cognitive Impairment, Users of Prosthetics, Depression & Anxiety, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, Multiple Sclerosis, Emotional/ Behavioral Disorders, Learning Disorders, Cerebral Palsy, Spina Bifida, Asperger’s, Autism, ADD/ ADHD, Down Syndrome, Speech Delay, Head Injury & Stroke, PTSD / Trauma.

HorsePower Therapeutic Riding is located at Fox Chase Farm, 46W276 Rt. 38 in Maple Park, IL (just east of Acquaviva Winery). You can contact them at or (815) 508-0804.


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se Pairing


A Perfect

The Forge

By: Stephen Haberkorn

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Like beer and pizza, every aspect of The Forge seems to be perfectly paired up. In 2018, the brewpub left their location on Airport Road in Sycamore and split their business into The Forge of Sycamore restaurant in downtown Sycamore and The Forge Brewhouse in DeKalb. The business was started in June, 2015 by James “JD” and Lisa Heinrich of unincorporated Sycamore. Heinrich began homebrewing about ten years ago and he later helped a neighbor build a large brick pizza oven on his patio. “He started making these incredible pies and I’d bring over a keg of beer and everyone was like, ‘We need a place like this

to go to all the time,’ explained Heinrich. So they opened The Forge Brewpub in 2015 to share their little slice of heaven with the rest of DeKalb County. The name, “The Forge,” originated from Heinrich’s former career as a farrier. After a stint in the rodeo, he traveled around the country for thirty years shoeing award-winning horses for some of the best trainers in the world. The forge is where he would heat the steel in order to shape the horseshoes. He eventually left that career to settle down with his wife and three kids. Forge means to alter and change, and this business has been life-changing for their family. The Forge originally wanted their brewpub located in downtown Sycamore, but no buildings were available. When they were able to purchase their location at 1330 E. State Street after a couple years, they found out that they couldn’t sell food and also self-distribute their beer from that building, which was one of their goals. That’s when they decided to make their downtown Sycamore location a restaurant offering their artisan brick oven pizzas and other food, as well as their craft beers and local spirits from places like Prairie State Winery and Whiskey Acres.

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In March of 2018, they also opened their second location, the new Forge Brewhouse at 216 N. 6th Street in DeKalb. It is a brewing facility and contains a public taproom with 14 taps. All of their craft beer production is now done at the DeKalb location. This way if you want food you can visit the Sycamore location and for the taproom you can visit the DeKalb one. In addition to expanding their business to two locations, JD and Lisa also brought aboard a pair of couples to help produce their food and craft beer. Chris and Laura Wellendorf now run the kitchen at the Forge of Sycamore Restaurant, while John Sanderson is the Head Brewer and runs the DeKalb Brewhouse with his wife, Christen, who serves as the Director of Marketing and Sales. Even though the craft beer industry has more than doubled, from 3000 to 6500 breweries since they opened in 2015, the Forge Brewhouse is currently the only brewery in DeKalb County. Their distribution business has grown quickly and their product is now available at over 20 different locations in the area. Most of the restaurants/bars and liquor stores where you can buy their beers are

in DeKalb County, but they also have some in the Fox Valley area as well. They have been selective about where they allow their products to be sold. “Every place that we are choosing to be in are places that we enjoy to go, where we’ve had a good experience,” said Christen Sanderson. If you go to their website ( and click on “Find our Beer,” it will tell you all the stores and restaurants/bars where you can purchase their beer, either packaged or on tap, in addition to their own restaurant and brewhouse. Their two biggest accounts are Lodi Tap House in Maple Park and Remington’s Gastropub in Malta. Heinrich said the learning process of going from 10 gallons to 217 gallons at a time was difficult, but they’ve gotten through it and are in a better place now. Sanderson has a background in mechanical engineering and was home brewing for six years before he started at The Forge. He was able to avoid some of the learning curve that JD went through in the beginning. “Our motto is, ‘We’re going to do it better today than we did it yesterday,’”

Jeff Wilde of Sycamore really enjoys craft beer and has been going to The Forge regularly for about three years. Barrelaged stouts are his favorite beers to drink and he says that Forge Brewhouse’s are phenomenal. He also loves their Azaccalypse imperial IPA. “For being a newer brewer, they’re really doing good,” said Wilde. “John’s a great brewer. He’s really got passion for it.” Heinrich said there’s a saying in the industry: “If you say you don’t like beer, it’s because you haven’t tried the right style, yet.” So the Forge Brewhouse keeps thirteen different beers and a craft root beer on tap at all times in the hopes of pleasing any palate. Their beer menu is updated weekly, not only with what’s on tap but what is available in bottles to go. If you want to see what they have at any particular time, you can check on their website by clicking on “Our Beer.” They have four staple beers: Sunrise Hefe, Quiet Man Irish Red, Great Western American Pale Ale (APA) and Coal Dust Black IPA. Flights are their number one seller, which are five ounces of four different beers. That allows patrons to sample a variety of beers to see what they

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like before making a commitment to a full pint. Flights cost around $8-9. Some couples who come in will get almost the whole beer menu in flights between them. Forge Brewhouse, as is customary in the craft brewing industry, will fill and seal 32-ounce howlers and 64-ounce growlers glass jugs for customers to take away. You can bring your own or buy one there. They can also fill 22-ounce bottles, called “bombers.� It used to be that a brewery could only fill their own containers, but the law changed last year so now they can fill anyone’s. According to Christen Sanderson, the Brewhouse always has the Sunrise Hefe on tap. It is considered a beginner beer, since it’s light and easy to drink. It’s smooth and a little bit sweet, comparable to a Blue Moon Beer, said Sanderson. For people who like Miller Lite, in the summertime they offer a light American lager. “We think it’s a Miller Lite with flavor,� said Heinrich. Karen Giuliano of DeKalb was never a beer drinker. She said she wouldn’t even kiss her husband, Mike, after he

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drank beer because she detested the taste of it. But she went to The Forge in the beginning because they were friends with the Heinrichs. Then one time they were there the bartender asked if she liked chocolate and coffee. She said, “Yes,” so he gave her a little taster of a stout beer. “It was delicious,” said Giuliano. “So I started to drink their stout chasers. Then I would go onto a full pint, because I really did like it.” After that, she began to stretch her craft beer horizon a little bit and take sips of her husband’s IPA. And she liked those, too. “There was just something about the quality of the beer they were making there that was just really tasty,” said Giuliano. “That was the beginning of my beer-drinking days.”

Forge Brewhouse in DeKalb

Besides expanding into a new city, opening the brewhouse in DeKalb allowed The Forge to augment their beer offerings. In their old location, they only had ten taps, instead of the fourteen they have now. They can also do more barrel aging and packaging. In addition, they

have more days that they can brew. On Airport Road in Sycamore, JD and John could only brew on Mondays when they were closed. In DeKalb, they can brew any time, since Sanderson has a separate brewing space in the back. They’re always bringing out fun new beers, often based on what they hear from their patrons. They recently produced an ESB (Extra Special Bitter) and a Dunkelweizen. “Here in DeKalb, our concept is fresh beer all the time,” said Sanderson, “It’s constantly rotating. And we have that feel where you can see what we’re doing. We tell our customers, ‘Feel free to wander around and take a look.’ We’re not hiding anything.” They offer seasonal beers such as an Oktoberfest beer or Irish beer for St. Patrick’s Day. After Valentine’s Day they’ll have their popular Black Mamba beer, which is a dark lager with cherry and coffee. During the cold season, they serve barrel-aged beer, which is aged from 9-15 months. A typical batch of beer takes three weeks or longer, depending on the style. The tap room in the brewhouse is familyoriented. Since they have root beer, they

encourage people to bring their kids. They also have board games, so you can make it a whole family experience. People can either bring in their own food or snacks, or order from nearby restaurants and have food delivered via StarveBelly. They are working on doing promotions with local restaurants, such as as Pita Pete’s and Pizzo Pros, where customers can get discounts when ordering from the Forge Brewhouse tap room. “Most people stay here over an hour, just drinking beer and having their own food,” said Christen Sanderson. “We’ve even had someone bring a whole crockpot in. They get really comfortable.” Many of their regular customers walk from the surrounding neighborhood and they want people in DeKalb to see them as the community brewery—a place to go where they can be at ease. They also sell some snacks in the tap room, including beef sticks from Headon’s in Creston and Mrs. Fischer’s potato chips from Rockford. In fact, it is very important to The Forge that everything they make and sell in both locations, both their food and their beer, be as local as possible. A lot of their beers have some local product in them. For instance, they

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made a barrel-aged coffee stout using Barb City Roasters coffee. They get the pumpkins for their Kilted Pumpkin Ale from Jonamac Orchard in Malta. They host events regularly at the Forge Brewhouse, such as Trivia Night, Board Game Night, and Bingo. Their trivia nights are always their biggest nights and a lot of college students come out. The tap room can accommodate 39 patrons, and they do get crowded—especially when they have events. They are hoping to expand their taproom sometime in the future. The Forge Brewhouse is located right on the edge of downtown DeKalb, but still walkable to places like the Egyptian Theatre. Since they manufacture beer, they need to be toward the industrial area of town in order to have the right zoning. “We like the industrial feel. We want to keep that,” John Sanderson said. “We’re blue collar people, so it kind of works out.” And they’re in the area where many blue collar workers live as well. John and Christen Sanderson are both NIU grads and they really love the sense of community in DeKalb. They would

eventually like to have at least one of their beers available in all the downtown bars and restaurants by matching their offerings with what each establishment does. “We’re made three blocks away,” said Heinrich. “You’re not going to get fresher than here.” They also desire to work with NIU and the City of DeKalb. They are hoping to have their beer available at Huskie Stadium during football games. Forge Brewhouse was recently a part of the DeKalb County CVB Bold Spirits event, and they would love to be a part of tours where people come out to DeKalb County and sample craft beer at the Forge, wine at Prairie State and/or Waterman Winery, hard cider at Jonamac Orchard and bourbon at Whiskey Acres. In May, they are planning to do a MaiFest with a tent to release their Maibock beer. Then in June, they will be having a big party for their 4-year anniversary and will release a barrel-aged beer for the occasion. “It’s going to be a big year; that’s for sure,” said Christen Sanderson. “We have a lot of big goals for 2019.”

The Forge of Sycamore

JD and Lisa Heinrich manage the Forge of Sycamore restaurant on State Street. They feature a special, unique pizza every week. Some examples include the gyro pizza and the chorizo and figs pizza. “We haven’t changed or skimped,” said Heinrich. “We’re using the best ingredients.” Heinrich appreciates serving a calmer clientele than at your typical pub. “Our customers come in and have two beers and they talk about them and enjoy them,” said Heinrich. Paul LaLonde started going to The Forge when he moved to Sycamore in 2016. “I’m just a huge craft beer fan,” said LaLonde. “When I heard the area had a craft brewery I had to check it out. The pizzas were outstanding and it just became the family go-to spot.” For more information on The Forge and their two locations visit their website at for the DeKalb location and for their Sycamore location.

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Teaching generations to move through life with grace By D.M. Herra


his season, Beth Fowler celebrates an anniversary trifecta.

It is the 35th anniversary of her celebrated Genoa dance studio, the Beth Fowler School of Dance. It is the 25th anniversary of her preprofessional dance company, the Beth Fowler Dance Company. And it was the 25th anniversary of her dance company’s first performance of “The Nutcracker,” a local holiday tradition.

“Beth is a staple of Genoa,” said Cortney Strohacker, executive director of the Genoa Area Chamber of Commerce. “Probably half the kids in Genoa have taken a lesson from Beth Fowler at some point.” LIVING A LIFE IN DANCE A life in dance is the only life Fowler has ever known. A gifted dancer as a child, at age 13 she joined a professional dance company in Rockford. Genoa is a small town, she said,

and word spread quickly that a local girl was a professional dancer. “People started coming to me when I was 13 asking if I could teach their daughters to dance,” she said. “I literally started teaching out of my parents’ basement when I was in junior high.” In 1983, when she was 15, one of Fowler’s teachers recommended she advertise the dance lessons in the newspaper, and the Beth

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Fowler School of Dance became official.

to dance at this studio.”

Ten years later the business experienced a growth spurt. In 1993, 25-year-old Fowler opened a second location in Sycamore and launched the Beth Fowler Dance Company. In 1994, she opened a third studio, this time in Marengo.

Last winter, the Beth Fowler Dance Company celebrated its 25th production of “The Nutcracker.” As they readied the production, Fowler said, the technical crew kept talking about new props that would be needed, new scenery, new special effects in celebration of the 25th anniversary.

“I ran the three locations for three years,” Fowler recalled. “I was 28 and I had three small children – every time we opened a new location I had another child. In 1996 our current 8,000-square-foot building in Genoa came up for sale. We bought it and consolidated all three locations into downtown Genoa.” For 15 years, Fowler was content to run the single location, but in 2009 she felt the urge to expand again. This time her second location was in St. Charles. In 2015, she bought a building the same size to her Genoa studio and moved the St. Charles location out of its rented digs and into its new home. “Now we own both buildings and we’re done expanding,” Fowler pledged. “We’re done moving. We’re definitely committed to these two communities for life.” DANCING THROUGH GENERATIONS For Fowler, 50, a lifetime commitment to a community seems only natural. A Genoa native, she has watched generations of dancers grow up around her. Thirty-five years after first advertising her dance lessons, Fowler now teaches the children of her former students. Last year, she recognized that a new student had the same last name as a former student. “I asked if that was her mother and she said no, it was her grandmother,” Fowler said. “Three generations of this family have learned

“All I kept thinking about was how none of that mattered to me,” Fowler said. “Yes we will add all that, but what matters to me is the people I have shared this with over the last 25 years.” That revelation led to another Beth Fowler first: an alumni performance of the classic holiday ballet. LESSONS THAT LAST A LIFETIME Fowler keeps in touch with many of her former students – even when she’s not teaching their children. Some have gone on to have careers in dance, others no longer dance but still practice the life lessons dance taught them – discipline, persistence and determination time management.

city saturated with dance studios. All of the instructors in the Beth Fowler School of Dance are former students of the school, offering a level of stability that many similar businesses cannot match. “Parents will tell me how great it is that their students can form a bond with their instructors, because at so many other studios there’s a revolving door of teachers,” Fowler said. “It’s also great for me; I know what’s being taught at each level because I taught (the teachers).” The consistency and longevity of the studio staff also helps the students as they progress through the levels, Fowler said. Having the same dance background means the teachers are all on the same page; each one knows how she must prepare her students for the expectations of the next teacher up the line. THE JOURNEY IS AS IMPORTANT AS THE DESTINATION Fowler and her team of instructors teach children as young as three all the way up to adults ready to begin their dancing careers. No matter what level a student dances, every milestone is equally exciting, Fowler said.

Fowler’s teaching philosophy is that children are motivated when the goal they are working toward is clearly defined. All of the dance classes participate in “The Nutcracker” in different roles. Each year, as the dancers progress to another level, they also progress to a new role.

“I get so excited when a three-year-old learns how to skip,” she said. “Every level has different successes, and we love to celebrate them all. Watching a three-year-old skip for the first time is as exciting as watching an advanced student perform 32 fouette turns on pointe.”

“They can see very clearly where they are and where they are going next,” she said. “That’s a huge motivator for kids, to see what their next step will look like. I think that’s why the program has had the longevity it has.”

“When you watch someone grow up from the age of 3, you become part of their family,” she continued. “We have a very strong dance family. Some of them call me Mom. I’ve watched them grow up and they all feel like my children. There is a very strong family bond that runs through our studio.”

Consistency is also key to the dance school’s enduring popularity, even in St. Charles, a

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Unveil Visitor Center Addition


amie Walters and Nick Nagele of Whiskey Acres Farm Distillery in DeKalb like to say that great whiskey isn’t made, it’s grown. And coming from many-generational Illinois farming families, including Jamie’s father, Jim, the other distillery co-founder, they know a thing or two about what it takes to make something grow. One very visible way that Whiskey Acres’ business has grown is their newly-built 4,000 square foot all-season visitor’s

By: Stephen Haberkorn center. They had opened a 400 square foot tasting room on site about 3.5 years ago that is now much too small to accommodate the hundreds of people who stop by their distillery every weekend. In four years since they produced their first batch, Whiskey Acres has had over 20,000 visitors from over 40 countries, 44 states, and all seven continents—including a research team from Antarctica. The other issue with the old tasting room, besides being too small, was that it was

not adequately insulated, and given the Northern Illinois climate it could only be used for about eight months of the year. “When the weather got snarky it made it hard for guests to reliably come out here and feel like they had the space and comfort to enjoy themselves,” said Walters. When they embarked on this latest venture, to build the new visitor’s center, they didn’t have a difficult time selecting an architecture firm to design it. “What I

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told the architect was, ‘Honey, I’d like to build a building,’ because it’s my wife,” said Walter. Kristen Walter now works for Whiskey Acres full time, but her old firm of Saavedra Gehlhausen Architects definitely had an inside track for the job. In addition, one of their employees of the tasting room is now an architect with the firm, so the team was very familiar with Whiskey Acres’ needs and vision for the new building. Whiskey Acres had heard from their customers over and over again how much they loved the timber and stone barn feeling of their old tasting room, so they wanted to create a newer, large-scale version of it. Their old tasting room was a converted picnic shelter built by Jamie’s uncle out of materials recycled from the family’s dairy barn.

The new visitor’s center is an all mortise and tenon, or post and beam, structure. It is constructed using wood pegs, without nails or screws to hold it together. “We’re very proud of it,” said Walter. “It’s the way barns used to be built 100 years ago.” Much of the interior decor is copied from the smaller tasting room as well. The seats at the bar are identical to the seats in the old tasting room. People loved the fireplace in the old building, so they made a fireplace central to the new building. “It’s meant to give customers a contemporary, but still down-home country feel,” said Nagele. And, in fact, the new facility, despite being large, is quite cozy and inviting. Some of their neighbors even come over and hang out there during the day, having a drink by the fireplace or playing board games at the tables.

With their new accommodations, Whiskey Acres intends to do more events on their grounds that they didn’t have the space to do before. They are considering having painting classes, for instance. They also have a grassy area that they can use for concerts. “We’ve got a building that creates a foundation and a backbone for us to support other things and continue to bring our friends from the city and the suburbs out here,” said Walter. The Visitor’s Center is open Friday and Saturday from 1:30 - 8:30 p.m. and Sunday from 1:30 - 5:30 p.m. Tours are on Friday and Saturday at 2:00, 4:00, and 6:00 p.m. and Sundays at 2:00 and 4:00 p.m. The tours last for about an hour and cost $10, which includes a tasting and a souvenir glass. The facility is available for rental Monday through Thursday. Even

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before they finished putting their marketing brochure together for the new facility they were already getting rental inquiries almost every day. They’re not abandoning the old tasting room, however, as it’s still functional. It is available for private rental for parties seven days a week, eight months of the year. They will use it as their second bar on busy weekends when it’s not being rented.

Secrets to Their Success

Nagele also believes that being Illinois’ first estate distillery provides an additional part of the appeal. Since people love and are interested in what happens on a farm, as well as what happens in a distillery, Whiskey Acres is able to combine two popular things. “What we do here is very authentic,” said Nagele. “It’s an easy story to tell and a fun story to tell. Our marketing strategy is, ‘Show them what we do every day,’ and people can relate to that.”

So why has Whiskey Acres Distillery become such a popular tourist attraction? Nagele believes it has to do with transparency and accountability.

The other thing that makes Whiskey Acres stand out is their emphasis on quality. They are not just making spirits, but premium spirits.

“We provide a completely transparent overview of the entire process, from the seed that we put into the ground to the spirit that we put in the bottle,” said Nagele. “Consumers want to know where their food comes from. They come here, learn about the bourbon production process, see the entire process, and have a drink and enjoy themselves in a unique atmosphere.”

“How we grow the grain, how we distill it—the real care that goes into the handcrafted, what we call ‘farm-crafted’ spirit made here—is a very, very important part of everything we do,” said Walter.


As a testament to that fact, Whiskey Acres has received an award at every spirits tasting competition they’ve

entered. They’ve won gold, silver and bronze medals at multiple international tasting competitions. And perhaps more important than the awards are the ratings. If you look at any of their social media platforms—Google, Yelp, Trip Advisor, Facebook—they have the highest ratings possible with hundreds of reviews.. “That’s because of the quality of the product that we serve here and the quality of the people who are serving it,” Nagele said. This year, the Chicago Tribune ran an article called, “Bucket list: twenty drinks to try in Illinois.” The Bourbon Slush from Whiskey Acres was number one on that list. “That was a big point of pride for us and continues to be,” explained Nagele, “because it’s actually a recipe that Jamie developed based off of a college roommate who shared it with him. We love being able to take something that’s homemade and essentially get national publicity out of it.”

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Another recognition that they are quite proud of was being named one of “6 Visionaries Who Are Changing Craft Whiskey,” by Whiskey Advocate Magazine, one of the premier whiskey publications in the world. Their business was also featured in the Wall Street Journal in 2017, with an article titled, “Farmers Get Creative in Reaping Profits.” Most recently, Whiskey Acres was named Business of the Year for 2018 by the DeKalb Chamber of Commerce. The award is given annually to a company that “has contributed to the economic vitality and positively affected the business community in DeKalb.” Besides providing new permanent jobs, the construction of their visitor center employed a number of contractors and tradesmen. Also, Whiskey Acres has gathered an enormous number of tourists over the years who would not have otherwise come to DeKalb County. Those people are going into all of the surrounding towns to have dinner, to buy gasoline, or to get a room for the night.

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“There’s certainly been lots of spillover effects, besides just the tax revenue that comes from not only the excise taxes, but the real estate taxes, the sales taxes and everything else that has been generated here,” said Walter. “We’re very proud of the fact that we’re a significant economic engine.”

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Farm distilling used to be common in the United States, but it kind of died out during prohibition and never really recovered until recently. Recent changes in craft distilling laws, such as the amount that can be produced, have made it more viable. Even though Whiskey Acres is one of only two farm distilleries in the United States that are certified by the American Distilling Institute, there are increasingly more farms that are processing some of their crops through a still. In addition to the business aspects of their successful operation, the founders of Whiskey Acres, though, have enjoyed meeting an extraordinary number of people. “It’s fascinating to get to rub shoulders with not only the exciting and the famous, but down-to-earth friends and local families,” said Walter. “We value them all equally. So that’s been a big area of growth for us.”

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‘For the Love

of Humans’ Museum exhibit studies how dogs evolved to be man’s best friend By D.M. Herra

At an archaeological site in southern Illinois, human bones rest alongside their canine companions.

to be what we need them to be, and they fulfill so many needs for us that we take for granted.”

That may not sound odd today, when dogs are commonly treated as members of the family. But these dogs were lovingly buried 10,000 years ago – the oldest evidence of canine burial in North America.

The exhibit explores how humans have used dogs as workers throughout history. There is a full dog sled, and visitors can learn how the cultural meaning of dog sleds has changed over time. There is also a section dedicated to police K-9 officers, specifically to the NIU police department’s own K-9, Izzy.

Until May 9, you can see one of these ancient dogs at the James B. and Rosalyn L. Pick Museum of Anthropology at Northern Illinois University. The museum’s current exhibit, “For the Love of Humans: A History of Dogs,” explores how humans and dogs evolved together. “This exhibit does a really nice job of reminding us that dogs exist because we created them,” said Keri Burchfield, a professor of sociology at NIU. “They evolved

Dogs’ role in human religion is examined, including a case devoted to Kukur Tihar, a holiday celebrated in Nepal the day before Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights. On this day, dogs are given treats, wreathed in marigolds and adorned with vermillion on their heads to symbolize their sacredness. “I want visitors to take away how long this bond has been going on,” said Rachelle DEKALB COUNTY MAGAZINE | February 2019 | 31

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Wilson-Loring, acting director at the Pick Museum. “This has not been a one-sided evolution. Canines made the choice to live with us just as much as we made the choice to include them in our culture.” In dog-crazy DeKalb, part of the exhibit is dedicated to the influence dogs have had on NIU in the form of the husky mascot – though university devotees spell it Huskie. “The NIU history section has artifacts and mascot uniforms showing how the Huskie mascot was depicted over the years and how the meaning of ‘being a Huskie’ has changed over time,” Wilson-Loring said. But the museum director’s favorite part of the exhibit is the ancient dog. “I find it fascinating to think about where she’s been and the cultures she’s entwined with,” she said. “She speaks the most to me.” Some of the dog skeletons at the Illinois site clearly came from working dogs. Some appear to have been simply discarded, and some show evidence of butchering for food. But others were buried in very deliberate, ceremonial ways, and it’s that cultural shift Wilson-Loring finds interesting. “Up to a certain point dogs were viewed as food,” she said. “Then there’s a point in the archaeological record and after that point, they became beasts of burden. The dog we have shows signs she was a traversing dog; she carried materials on a back harness.”

THE HUMAN BOND Scientists estimate dogs have been domesticated in some form for at least 15,000 years. Because humans played such a direct role in their evolution, canines developed a human connection unmatched by any other species, Burchfield said. Paradoxically, the same coexistence that entwines dog history so firmly with ours can also make the species all but invisible. “The presence of dogs in people’s lives is so pervasive that the specialness of dogs can, in a way, disappear from view,” said Laurie Kay of Stardust Animal Sanctuary in Richmond, Illinois. “By exploring the history of dogs and their place in our lives, people can learn that all dogs are worthy in their own right.”

from the animal’s perspective. … For many youth, this might be the first time they have had the tools to connect with another based on understanding how the other feels.” In the 10-week program, Burchfield and her associates visit the Illinois Youth Center in St. Charles once a week to teach the youth about dog training, dog socialization, dog body language and dog cognition. “Many of our dogs have stories about being abused or abandoned. Our youth get very invested in the stories and connect very strongly to the animal when they feel their story is similar,” she said. “This exhibit also reminds us we have so much work to do to ensure dogs receive the safety and security and companionship we have raised them to seek from us.”

Burchfield uses dogs’ ability to bond with humans as a way to teach empathy to inmates at juvenile detention centers. In Lifetime Bonds, a program through Safe Humane Chicago, Burchfield gives underresourced or incarcerated youth the opportunity to train and socialize shelter dogs. “There is a lot of sociological and psychological research about the power of the human-animal bond for building empathy,” Burchfield said. “Working with dogs allows these youth to look at the world

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GIVING BACK In all of its exhibits, Wilson-Loring said, the Pick Museum strives to promote and stimulate dialogue about social justice. The dog exhibit came about primarily because many of those involved are dog lovers and because of a recent explosion in scientific research into ancient canines and their co-evolution with humans. But visitors who come for an education in culture leave with tools to take action in the wider world. The last section of the exhibit is an advocacy area where visitors can learn more about three area organizations that rescue unwanted dogs – Stardust Animal Sanctuary, TAILS Humane Society in DeKalb, and Ravens Husky Haven and Rescue in Sycamore. Stardust is devoted to caring for dogs, cats and horses deemed “unadoptable.” TAILS is a shelter

dedicated to finding forever homes for rescued dogs, cats and small animals, and took in more than 1,400 dogs in 2017, according to its website. Raven’s is a dog rescue dedicated solely to NIU’s mascot breed, huskies. “[The exhibit does] a really great job of showing how animal welfare and sheltering have evolved over time in regards to dogs,” said Michelle Groeper, executive director of TAILS. “We are so grateful to them for showcasing three different animal shelters where visitors can bring supplies to donate or learn how they can volunteer.” Human culture is “saturated with canines,” Wilson-Loring said. As a dog lover and animal advocate herself, she hopes people leave the exhibit with a deeper understanding of how people and dogs are connected and the tools and motivation to advocate on animals’ behalf. “People generally love their dogs and often have an amazing bond with them,” Kay said. “Sadly, though, care and concern often doesn’t extend past the dogs that live with them. …By encouraging understanding, we can hopefully cultivate a deeper compassion towards all species.”

IF YOU GO WHAT: ‘For the Love of Humans: A History of Dogs’ exhibit WHEN: Tuesday-Thursday 10 a.m.4 p.m., Friday 10 a.m.-2 p.m. WHERE: James B. and Rosalyn L. Pick Museum of Anthropology, Cole Hall, Northern Illinois University MORE INFORMATION: 815-753-2520 or

TO VOLUNTEER For information on how to volunteer with any of the nonprofits in this story, visit their websites: RAVEN’S HUSKY HAVEN SAFE HUMANE CHICAGO STARDUST ANIMAL SANCTUARY TAILS HUMANE SOCIETY

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ADVERTISING INDEX DeKalb Airport............................................................................................................................21 DeKalb Public Library..................................................................................................................15 Delano’s Home Decorating.........................................................................................................15 Egyptian Theatre...........................................................................................................................5

If you would like to advertise in the June 2019 edition of DC Magazine contact Lisa Angel at 815-756-4841 ext. 2236 or email

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