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PUBLICATION • SPRING/SUMMER 2019

A show fit for a

Elvis is in the building, and a Clinton tribute artist has brought him back

Woodworking shop in Fulton is a cut above the rest

God is a driving force in rural church’s concert series

Clinton nurse goes to great lengths for his patients

Dutch Days goes klomp, klomp, klompen along


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COVER • STORY

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Clinton tribute artist puts on a show fit for a King

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Publisher Don T. Bricker General Manager/Advertising Director Jennifer Heintzelman Magazine editors Rusty Schrader Kathleen Schultz Page design Rusty Schrader Published by Sauk Valley Media 3200 E. Lincolnway Sterling, IL 61081 815-625-3600 Articles and advertisements are the property of Sauk Valley Media. No portion of River City Living Magazine may be reproduced without the written consent of the publisher. Ad content is not the responsibility of Sauk Valley Media. The information in this magazine is believed to be accurate; however, Sauk Valley Media cannot and does not guarantee its accuracy. Sauk Valley Media cannot and will not be held liable for the quality or performance of goods and services provided by advertisers listed in any portion of this magazine.

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More inside

24 Singing God’s praises Religion has been a driving force at a church in Fulton that’s been spreading the gospel at outdoor concerts for nearly 50 years

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A cut above

Going to great lengths

A Fulton business is building on its past successes as it looks toward a bigger and better future on the Horizon

The diagnosis is in: A Clinton man is one of the greatest nurses in Iowa

Just like clog-work

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Fulton’s Dutch Days just keeps klomp, klomp, klompen along

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Justin Nylin, charge nurse for MercyOne Clinton’s Ambulatory Care Unit, was chosen as one of this year’s 100 Great Iowa Nurses.

STORY SHELBY KEUPKER PHOTOS ALEX T. PASCHAL FOR RIVER CITY LIVING Story begins on page 9

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Timber Lake Playhouse (TLP), the professional summer theatre of northwestern Illinois, has the shows you will love: hot new shows just leaving Broadway, great American plays, everyone’s “old favorite” musicals, and the best in country, pop, and rock-n-roll revues. Timber Lake Playhouse hires the best young theatrical talent from all over the United States, and we regularly bring back talented alumni who have gone on to stellar careers on Broadway, TV and Film. Noted past performers are Tony Winning Actress Jayne Houdyshell, Michael Gross (Family Ties), Andrea McArdle (Broadway’s original Annie), Jennifer Garner and Saundra Santiago (Miami Vice, Guiding Light, The Sopranos, and Broadway's Evita and more). Santiago last appeared at TLP in 2016 as Rose in Gypsy. Located just south of Mount Carroll, Illinois about 10 miles from the Mississippi River, TLP is a short drive from Fulton, Sterling and Rockford, Illinois. The current theatre building opened in 1975 with 371 seats. The building is fully air conditioned, and the fifteen-acre wooded campus is perfect for any other activity you and your guests desire. From picnicking on the deck overlooking beautiful Timber Lake to attending a pre-show activity in our newly acquired rustic barn, or walking through the woods on the nature trails to dining on The Deck prior to our weekend shows, TLP is a great destination for a day of fun. Check out our website at www.timberlakeplayhouse.org for more information about our shows and other activities.

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Justin Nylin consults with one of the RNs at MercyOne Clinton hospital. Nylin said he’s glad he decided to return to Clinton after graduating from Coe College “because I think MercyOne and my colleagues have pushed me to be the best nurse I could possibly be.”

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f Justin Nylin were to draw a sample of his own blood, there’s one thing you can be sure the results would find: nursing. The profession has been coursing through his veins for a long time. The MercyOne Clinton nurse not only grew up around it – his mom was a nurse, so there was always a lot of health care talk around the house – he grew into it. He spent years in college earning degrees and specialty certifications, and he’s risen through the ranks at MercyOne to become the hospital’s charge nurse for its Ambulatory Care Unit, and he’s not done moving up yet. What’s more, patients, coworkers, friends, and family all think he’s a great nurse – and that’s not a just a compliment; it’s official. Nylin was among this year’s 100 Great Iowa Nurses honorees, a pro-

gram headed up by the University of Iowa College of Nursing to recognize outstanding nurses who go above and beyond in their field. “Maybe it was my mom or maybe it was my exposure to the health care field early on, but I am so happy I am where I am today,” he said. Where he is today started in 2008. After completing a Nurse’s Aide course at Clinton Community College, Nylin began his nursing career at MercyOne as a CNA. “This is when I quickly learned that I wanted to be a nurse because what I thought physicians did was actually being done by nurses,” he said. “I wanted to be able to get to know the patients, their stories, and help them on their road to recovery.”

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His own road took him to Coe College in Cedar Rapids, where he graduated in 2013, eventually moving into MercyOne’s critical care unit as an RN, where he worked for 3 years. From there, he was promoted to a house supervisor position. After earning his master’s in nursing, he became the charge nurse for hospital’s Ambulatory Care Unit in October 2018. Nylin credits Coe’s Nursing Program with much of his success. “It taught me the necessary skills to be a leader in this hard, but very rewarding work,” where he can “use the skills I have been gifted to help others in times when they are most vulnerable.” Just as rewarding, he said, is being able to practice his passion in his hometown. “I am glad I decided to come back to Clinton after graduating from Coe because I think MercyOne and my colleagues have pushed me to be the best nurse I could possibly be,” he said. “I have been exposed to, and gotten the opportunity to participate in many things early on in my career that would have taken me much longer if I were at a Justin Nylin says the most challenging part of his job is “juggling the hours in the day and being prepared for the unknown. As a nurse, being available, ready, and prepared for the unexpected is a must.” larger hospital.”

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He loves the concept of health care in smaller communities such as Clinton. “My one hope for health care is to maintain hospitals in smaller communities to ensure every human being has equal access to world-class care,” he said. Nylin said he loves the personalized attention he can give patients and the colleagues he works with. “I love seeing patients get better and leave my unit for the last time, and I love seeing my colleagues succeed. The feeling I get when I see others succeed that I have mentored is one I cannot explain.” It’s no wonder that, among the accolades in Nylin’s nomination as a Great Nurse, one colleague said: “Justin Nylin was born a nurse and a leader.” The most challenging part of his job, Nylin said, is “juggling the hours in the day and being prepared for the unknown. As a nurse, being available, ready, and prepared for the unexpected is a must, but this can be very challenging.” Those challenges have kept him busy in his role as charge nurse in the hospital’s Ambulatory Care Unit, which opened its doors in 2008. “This is a unit specifically tailored for patients who need to be in the hospital, but do not typically need to stay overnight. We take care of a wide variety of patients, including cardiac outpatients (patients needing to go to the cath lab to check for and fix blockages in the legs or heart), pain blocks, infusions, injections, transfusions, pre- and post-care for biopsies, catheter inser-

tions, and same-day surgery/inpatient [services].” Outside of work, Nylin said he loves “to be active and outside, whether it is riding my bike, playing pickleball, or working in my backyard. I love to spend time with my friends and family and classify myself as an extrovert.” Nylin said he also values helping out his hometown when he has time. He said he’s “a big believer in giving back to the community in which you live.” Nylin’s advice for up-and-coming nurses is to “take one day at a time. Too often I would be looking for the light at the end of the tunnel when I should have focused my energy on the topic at hand. Taking one day at a time allows the future nurse to not get overwhelmed.” Asking questions is his biggest piece of advice, he said. “Talk to nurses, shadow nurses, and see what nursing is about.” As for those up-and-coming nurses, Nylin said he’d like to see more male nurses enter the profession. “We need more men in nursing. People think there is a stigma attached to men in nursing; I do not find it to be a problem in my career. If anyone is even slightly interested in nursing (regardless of gender), do some work and find out more.” “You can do so many different things as a nurse,” Nylin said. “Not a day goes by that I am not thankful I am a nurse. As Florence Nightingale said ‘Live life when you have it. Life is a splendid gift – there is nothing small about it.’” n

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A Clinton man with a

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Elvis’

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tribute artist to places near and far

STORY SHELBY KUEPKER PHOTOS ALEX T. PASCHAL | FOR RIVER CITY LIVING Story begins on page 14

Mike Hartney, as Elvis

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adies and gentlemen, Elvis is back in the building. Mike Hartney has taken being an Elvis fan to a whole other level. The Clinton, Iowa, tribute artist has been performing his version of The King at festivals, parties, charity events, nursing homes, and more throughout the country for the past 6 years. Growing up in Chicago, Hartney’s journey from fan to an heir to the throne began with a love for the man’s music. “I was an Elvis fan for probably 50 years,” he said.  After hearing him sing a song in church one day back in 2013, Hartney’s friends started encouraging him to enter Elvis contests. He wasn’t a big fan of the shows at first. “When I saw, it I thought it was terrible,” Hartney said, but a fellow Elvis lover convinced him to enter a contest in Waterloo.  He ended up coming in third place, and that’s when he got hooked. From there, the transition to tribute artist came naturally. Because he’d been watching Elvis movies, performances, and videos most of his life, picking up on the mannerisms wasn’t hard.

Mike Hartney’s favorite events to perform at are fundraisers. Though he does his concerts for the fun of it, he said if he “can draw some money in for a good cause and help the community, that’s even better.”

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The King ring ... No detail is too small for Elvis tribute artist Mike Hartney. When he channels Presley, he dresses the part, from head to toe – and fingers, like this reproduction of the TCB (Takin’ Care of Business) ring Presley wore.

Hartney’s done a lot of shows, and along the way he’s been able to learn from some of the best Elvis tribute artists in the world. “I always ask lots of questions, but there’s not one Elvis guy that knows everything there is to know about being Elvis. It’s always a learning experience.” Hartney makes a clear distinction between being an Elvis tribute artist and Elvis impersonator. “I’m not an impersonator,” he said. “I wear the hair, the glasses, and the outfits, and I use my voice to pay tribute to him.” “I believe if people wanna hear Elvis, they can stay home and listen to their CDs. But if they want a night out and a good time while remembering Elvis, they call me.” Continued on page 16

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Mike Hartney looks the part of Presley, donning the iconic jeweled jumpsuits from the later part of The King’s career. He has six different Elvis costumes that are as close to the real thing you can get. “If these were hanging in Elvis’s closet, he’d think they were his,” he said. Behind him in the photo at right is a jacket autographed by several of his Presley-esque peers. Hartney’s done a lot of shows, and along the way he’s been able to learn from some of the best Elvis tribute artists in the world.

Continued from page 15

Hartney has six different Elvis costumes that are as close to the real thing you can get. “If these were hanging in Elvis’s closet, he’d think they were his,” he said. Another thing he has in common with The King: Performing in front of large crowds comes naturally.“The bigger the crowd, the more at ease I am. Crowds of 1,500 are way better than crowds of 100. My wife thinks I’m goofy because of it.” Hartney’s favorite events to perform at are fundraisers. Though he does his concerts for the fun of it, he said if he “can draw some money in for a good cause and help the community, that’s even better.” “Elvis-ing” has introduced Hartney to countless great people over the years, he said, but none greater than the woman who became his wife. Hartney met fellow Elvis enthusiast Patricia at his first concert contest in Waterloo.

“She asked if she could have a picture with me because I was wearing black, and black’s her favorite color,” he said. It wasn’t long after that when the relationship blossomed. “I don’t remember how we stayed in touch, but she just happened to be coming through Iowa one day and she asked if she could stop and see me.” “I thought she was just going to be stopping for the day, but she’s still here!” he said. The two hit it off and have been together ever since. Loving Elvis herself, Patricia travels with Hartney to all of his shows to help with the sound – well, that and for one other reason, Hartney joked. “She doesn’t trust Elvis with the girls.” In the past 6 years, Hartney has participated contents including the Blue Suede Festival in Alberta, Canada, and Elvis Explosion in La Crosse, Wisconsin. In October 2018, he landed a spot in the national finals in Tampa, Florida, but he was unable to

make the trip, due to work. Still he said, “it’s an honor to just be asked to attend.” He also puts on shows at places such as the Moose Lodge, Buffalo Bills, J&D Steakhouse, and other private events. He’s traveled to New York, Virginia Beach, Oklahoma, and all over the Midwest and East Coast. “It’s fun. You get to meet new people all over the country,” he says. Out of all Elvis songs he performs, Hartney’s favorites are The King’s classic “Hound Dog,” and the gospel “Why Me, Lord?” His favorites, like The King’s catalog itself, are diverse. Rock, country, gospel, ballads, blues, there’s not much The King couldn’t sing. As for Hartney, he’s game for it all, but beyond the music, he said there’s another reason he enjoys doing what he does. “I’m out to make people happy, have fun, and put smiles on their faces.” n

WANT TO HEAR HARTNEY? For more information, find “Mike Hartney ETA” on Facebook. To book a performance, call 563505-3217 or 231-709-3460 or e-mail bigmike52732@ yahoo.com

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There’s a sales pitch that’s as true in woodworking as it is in baseball: If you build it, they will come – and for more than 25 years, customers have been coming to a Fulton wood shop to have their projects built. Riverside Custom Woodworking specializes in projects big and small, from a piece of furniture to a kitchen full of cabinets. Now, it’s working on building something else: a bigger customer base, thanks to a new partnership. Continued on page 18

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Founder Mark Ivers started the business in 1993. When he died in 2011, his wife took over operations for a couple years. For the past 12 years, Scott Wohlstadter has been heading up the operation. Ivers used to do the whole nine yards: building, delivery, and installation. Now, Riverside’s primary focus is on building. “Nowadays, we mainly design, build, deliver, and then suggest local contractors that are more familiar with installation,” Wohlstadter said. “We are not licensed for electrical, plumbing, flooring work, [or other services.]” That’s where its new partnership can help out. Riverside recently joined the Horizon Group Inc. in Davenport, Iowa, a 100% employee-owned team of over 50 people that connects commercial clients with local contractors and builders. “We want to continue serving residential customers in the community, but add on commercial

customers like hospitals, clients, and others,” Wohlstadter said. Wohlstadter’s crew prides itself on taking the ideas customers dream up and making them a reality, crafting custom projects and then connecting clients with contractors who will wrap things up. Riverside’s primary business is mostly kitchen and bathroom cabinets, but the team welcomes a fun customer request, no matter what it may be – as long as it’s wood-related. “Every once in a while someone will come in with an odd wood project, and we’ve always managed to do it,” Wohlstadter said. In fact, some of those customer requests have become area of expertise for the staff – bookshelves, mantels, and spiral staircases, to name a few. Some customers come to Riverside with a more precises vision than others, but regardless of the level of detail, the shop’s staff can work with whatever their clients bring them.

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Customer Dale Thayer said he designed his kitchen layout and “Scott did an excellent job suggesting a few minor changes and preparing final plans. Vern did a great job building the cabinets. My experience with Riverside Custom Woodworking has been extremely good through the entire process.” Others echoed that praise for their projects. Dan and Kathy Montgomery said, “Scott worked closely with us and gave us everything we asked for. The quality of our cabinets is awesome.” Andy Wickett said Riverside made “our dream kitchen come true. We could not have asked for a better group to work with.” Wohlstadter said that what sets Riverside’s work apart from big-box box builders is that “we produce everything ourselves. We don’t use any hot glue, particle board,” or any other cheap supplies. “We use real wood. We’re basically building a custom box. There’s no comparison to what you’re finding out on the market, and we do it for a reasonable price.” Continued on page 21

Scott Wohlstadter said that what sets Riverside’s work apart from big-box box builders is that “we produce everything ourselves. We don’t use any hot glue, particle board,” or any other cheap supplies. “We use real wood. We’re basically building a custom box. There’s no comparison to what you’re finding out on the market, and we do it for a reasonable price.”

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Riverside Custom Woodworking apprentice Damian Tornow sands a custom table. Scott Wohlstadter said his crew prides itself on taking the ideas customers dream up and making them a reality, crafting custom projects, whether it’s a single table or whole new set of kitchen cabinets.

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I loved what I saw I moved to Resthave 6 months ag ago to be closer to my daughter an and I’m so glad I did. Everyone in including the staff and residents ar are genuine and friendly. Th They made me feel at home ri right away. I have made some fr friends and have had great co conversations. There are activities everyday Th and I especially enjoy fitness. an The food is good and you have Th a say in what you eat, which is a plus. pl I loved lo d what wh I saw the he minute min inut I walked in the building. The facility is clean and bright. The staff is very nice and care about ut you.

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Continued from page 19

Wohlstadter’s woodworking journey began when he was growing up in Rock Falls. “My folks owned the old A&W in town (which later became an LA Tan and is now up for sale),” he said. “For the past 20-plus years, I’ve been doing primarily kitchen and bathroom design.” His specialty is in sales and design, and he leaves the MORE custom craftwork INFORMATION to his crew. Riverside Custom In the coming Woodworking year, Wohlstadter 1225 22nd Ave., Fulton Contact: 815-589-3608 hopes to utilize or riversidecustomwoodRiverside’s new working@gmail.com relationship with Online: riversidecustomwoodworking.com and Horizon to expand on Facebook the types of prodHours: 8 a.m. to ucts he can offer 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday; 8 a.m. clients, as well as to noon Saturday dipping into new areas of Illinois, such as Sterling/Rock Falls, the Quad Cities, and the Chicago suburbs. “We’re always looking for new markets, and we’ve got some new contacts around the state,” Wohlstadter said – and if the past is any indication of the shop’s future, then Riverside Custom Woodworking shouldn’t have any problem getting more customers on board. n

Scott Wohlstadter of Riverside Custom Woodworking in Fulton shows some of the options customers can order for for their cabinets. Some people come to Riverside with a more precises vision than others, but regardless of the level of detail, the shop’s staff can work with whatever their clients bring them.

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Just like

Klomp, klomp, klomp!

It’s not just a sound, it’s what those iconic wooden Dutch shoes are called – the sturdy footwear that, along with tulips and windmills, are one of the first things that come to mind when people think of the Netherlands. 2019 DUTCH DAYS • FULTON, ILLINOIS • MAY 3-5 The shoes – we call them clogs, but the Dutch word for them is klomp – are a must-have for tourists traveling the Netherlands, and there’s no shortage of people peddling their foot wares for visitors eager to take home a colorful piece of the country’s footwear folklore. Most of the 3 million pairs of the shoes sold in Holland each year are bought by tourists. Of course, the shoes are also a natural fit for Fulton’s Dutch Days, an annual celebration of the all things Dutch, including the city’s heritage, which ran this year from May 3 to 5. There were clogs on display, clogs on peoples’ feet, and clog-making demonstrations. But did you also know that the clomps are more than just a souvenir? The shoes have a long history. The oldest known pairs, found in Rotterdam and Amsterdam, date back to the 13th century. And the footwear’s fashion never changes; those 13th century clogs look just like the ones people see today. The shoes also are easy to slip in and out of and are surprisingly light, comfortable, warm and healthy. Though most Dutch people don’t wear clogs these days, at one time they were the preferred footwear for farmers, factory workers, and other professions where feet needed protection, such as mining. In fact, The European Union even gave the traditional, allwooden Dutch clogs a trademark as safety shoes. According to Holland.com, the official tourist site for Holland, the shoes can withstand almost any penetration (including sharp objects and concentrated acid) and are actually safer than steel-capped protective shoes in some circumstances, as the wood cracks rather than dents in extreme accidents, allowing easy removal of the clog. Today, clogs are limited to mostly ceremonial use, such as dancing, and by people in villages where traditional clothing is still worn; some rural workers also still wear them. Clogs used to be made my hand, and some people still practice the time-honored process that takes hours. But nowadays, machines can crank out klompens in minutes.

clog work

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Apprentice Luke Traver, 36, of Oostberg Wisconsin, scoops out a chunk of wood with a spoon auger May 4 during Dutch Days in Fulton. Oostberg was demonstrating how wooden shoes are made. One pair of hand-made, full-size wooden clogs can take 10 hours or more to make.

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Clogs sit on display during Dutch Days in downtown Fulton. Many people embraced their Dutch heritage at the event by wearing Dutchstyle clothes and doing some traditional Dutch dances; some even put on their best pairs of wooden clogs and wore them for the day.

ABOVE: Luke Traver uses a stock knife to roughly shape a piece of wood during Dutch Days. RIGHT: Traver carves out the inside of a wooden clog using a spoon auger. Traver spent the day demonstrating and talking about the craft of carving the clogs. Bob Siegel Jr., the master wooden clog carver, was nearby watching Traver, his apprentice, and personalizing clogs with a wood burner.

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lot of people have had a front seat to God’s word at Spring Valley Reformed Church – and some have had a back seat, too. The faithful have been flocking to the church at 10960 Spring Valley Road, about halfway between Fulton and Morrison, for its outdoor music worship services for nearly 50 years, where religion and music have been coming together under one roof for the drive-in service since 1970. “Our pastor at the time, Ralph Van Rheenen, started it. He’s now passed on,” Randy Venema, the church’s outdoor worship music director, said. Services usually start at 6 p.m., beginning when the weather warms up to when it starts to cool down, usually June through September, but sometimes a little longer. Guests can listen from their vehicles or bring lawn chairs and sit in front of the outdoor stage. The show moves SUBMITTED indoors in case of bad weather. Christian musical acts perform each summer to drive-in crowds at Spring Valley Reformed Continued on page 26 Church, about halfway between Fulton and Morrison.

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SUBMITTED

Spring Valley Reformed Church, established in 1909, is nestled in the valley between Fulton and Morrison, at 10960 Spring Valley Road, near Hillsdale and Spring Valley roads. Go to springvalleychurch.net for service times and more information on the church. The church also has a Facebook page. Call 815-772-3554 or email springvalleychurch@gmail.com for more information. Continued from page 25

A World War II veteran, Van Rheenen attended seminary with Robert Schuller, who started a drive-in music service in the 1950s that eventually grew into a religious empire that included the Crystal Cathedral Ministries in Garden Grove, California, and the “Hour of Power” TV show, which he hosted from 1970 until his retirement in 2010. “Pastor Van Rheenen thought we should try that here,” Venema said. Gary Van Rheenen, one of the pastor’s sons, attended Spring Valley while in high school. He said the concerts were wellTHIS received when they started. SUMMER’S “They did well. He thought in order for it to be LINEUP successful, they had to have special music, other than See page the locals. He put a great deal of effort into finding 27 for a list individuals and groups outside the immediate area,” of the acts Gary Van Rheenen said. scheduled to The outdoor services started in a pasture next to the perform at church, accompanied by a sermon. The first concerts the church. were held on a wooden platform. A chapel and concrete stage were built in 1972, with an expanded stage and roof added in 2015. “Dad wanted a chapel with doors that would open, so he could step back in there in case of rain. He wanted the doors always open to signify the open doors of the church,” Van Rheenen said. The services have taken place every summer since then. “It’s strictly during the summer. We sometimes have indoor concerts during the winter, but only if they’re (the performers) passing by. We try to get bluegrass, gospel, family groups,” Venema said. Many of the acts that stop at Spring Valley have been featured on the “Gaither Homecoming” Christian music tour, such as the Jim Brady Trio, or the Bontrager family from Iowa. This year’s first concert is scheduled for May 27, with New Revival Quartet performing. The concerts often draw good-sized crowds – Venema estimated between 150 to 200 people at each one. Plans haven’t been set yet for the program’s 50th anniversary next year. n


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Spring Valley’s 2019 summer concert series kicks off with a Memorial Day service at the church, 10960 Spring Valley Road, Fulton. Dinner will be at 4:30 p.m., with New Revival Quartet performing at 6. The regular schedule starts at 6 p.m. June 2 with The Peyton Sisters. Other concerts and special events are: JUNE 9: 4 One Quartet JUNE 16: Spoken 4 Quartet, and root beer floats JUNE 23: Finding Home JUNE 30: Higher Power JULY 7: Trinity Men’s Quartet and The String Alongs, with sundaes JULY 14: Master’s Promise JULY 21: The Kramers JULY 28: The Bolerjacks, and root beer floats AUG. 4: Chosen Ones AUG. 11: Paul’s Journey, and root beer floats AUG. 18: The Hallelujah Quartet AUG. 25: Request night SEPT. 1: The Browns Find for Spring Valley Reformed Church Illinois on Facebook or go to springvalleychurch.net for more information.

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