Posts Categorized: What We’re Loving

Loving: Great River Shakespeare Festival

Great River Shakespeare Festival

The Tempest, 2014. Photo courtesy Kathy Greden Christenson

What We’re Loving Right Now: Great River Shakespeare Festival in Winona, Minnesota

WhatWereLoving_LogoGRSF runs June 22 to July 31, 2016

It takes a lot of great people to put on the Great River Shakespeare Festival in Winona, Minnesota, every summer. Truth be told, Inspire(d) friend and GRSF Marketing Director Emily Kurash might bring the fun factor up to an 11 (she does that with things…), but the whole entire crew works together to bring awesome live – and lively – theatre to our region in a totally cool way.

So what is Great River Shakespeare Festival? Each summer GRSF performs three plays or musicals (usually) all by good, ol’ Bill Shakespeare. This summer they’re doing Julius CaesarAs You Like It, and a new musical, Georama, that’s actually not a Shakespeare at all. Georama, with Book by West Hyler and Matt Schatz and Music & Lyrics by Jack Herrick is based on a true story about American painter John Banvard. Banvard created these big – really big – moving panoramas of the Mississippi River, and toured them around the country, even having a run-in with the Barnum & Bailey circus. Georama had its world premiere at the St. Louis Repertory Theatre in February. “It’s a really interesting story,” says Kurash. “It’s fun to have that Mississippi River tie-in here in Winona, and one of the writers, Jack Herrick, will be on staff this summer doing music direction as well as writing original songs for As You Like It with an Eastern European flair.”

What else does GRSF do? (SO much!)

Get all the details at grsf.org.

What We’re Loving – Spring 2016

Spring 2016: A little list of what we think is awesome in the Driftless Region right now…

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CSA Decorah

WhatWereLoving_LogoWhen we asked Roxie what momma’s favorite food was, her answer was “lettuce.” Momma would actually say it’s a tie between lettuce (aka salads of any sort) and pizza. But suffice it to say we like our fresh veggies around here. Luckily, here in the Driftless Region, we are surrounded by an amazing crop (pun!) of real-deal farmers. Vegetables. Meats. Flowers. The array at local farmer’s markets in mid-season is astonishing. We also love going the community supported agriculture (CSA) route because it’s often a great deal (more goods for the money, woot!) and we get to explore different options of products that we might not normally choose. So we were excited to find out there is a new coalition of Decorah-area CSA-sellers working together under the umbrella CSA Decorah.

You can check out www.csadecorah.com to see profiles of each of the farms that are working together on this project, as well as details on their CSA offerings. Offerings vary from weekly subscriptions of assorted in-season vegetables and products, to market shares (you put money on your “account”, then just bring your bag to the market and write down your purchase amount – it will get subtracted until you’re out of funds), flower subscriptions, and more. Supporting your local farmer not only tastes amazing, it closes an incredible financial loop to support local ag. Whoohooo for that! Visit csadecorah.com or facebook.com/csadecorah to learn more.

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Mid West Music Fest: Where music and community meet

We love Winona’s annual community-centered music festival, Mid West Music Fest. In six short years, the fest has quickly grown to be a fun gathering of fantastic proportions for regional music lovers. What started as an idea of Winona’s Sam Brown in 2010 now brings over 100 acts to multiple venues throughout downtown Winona.

True to its community mission, MWMF is all-inclusive: it’s an all-ages, multiple-venue, multiple-genre, multiple-day affair. In fact, MWMF is even jumping out of Winona this year with a 1-day fest in La Crosse to start the fun, Saturday, April 16 (say hi to Benji doing audio at the Cavalier if you go!). The main festivities in Winona run April 28-30, 2016. The fun kicks off Thursday night with a special show at the historic Masonic Theatre in Winona featuring Jeremy Messersmith and Romantica. The great line-up continues through the weekend with regional favorites such as People Brother’s Band, Apollo Cobra, Charlie Parr, and lots, lots more.

MWMF organizers are also super excited to announce that Midwest independent music moguls Daytrotter will be recording sessions all weekend for future web session releases. Cool!

MWMF has become an incredible showcase for bands from the upper Midwest and beyond – as well as a showcase of downtown Winona, which just like the mighty Mississippi, keeps right on flowin’. Don’t miss all the music – advance tickets (or greatly appreciated donations for the non-profit festival) at www.midwestmusicfest.org

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Syttende Mai in Spring Grove, MN.

Syttende Mai Gosh!

The 17th of May. Seems like a good day for a celebration. Amiright?!?

But in all seriousness: Syttende Mai, or the 17th of May, is a holiday lovingly embraced by much of the Scandinavian population in our Driftless Region. It marks the May 17, 1814, signing of the constitution that would serve as the basis of government in Norway while they were in union with Sweden. Thus Syttende Mai commemorates “Norwegian Constitution Day.”

It also offers up an annual excuse to enjoy spring while celebrating all things Scandinavian. (But who needs an excuse?!)

Vesterheim in Decorah puts on a large, family-friendly event on the actual 17th of May, with activities, food, and fun for all ages. Details at vesterheim.org.

The City of Spring Grove, Minnesota, throws an even larger shindig – always on a weekend near to the 17th. This year’s festivities run May 20-22, and feature Giants of the Earth Academy, Norwegian craft and food demos, the grand parade, a quilt show, a car show, and tons of food and entertainment throughout town throughout the whole weekend. Check out details at www.sgsyttendemai.com.

Luckily, Westby, Wisconsin’s Syttende Mai celebration is the weekend BEFORE Syttende Mai: May13-15. It highlights bike tours, a 5k run/walk and half marathon, and, of course, Norwegian history, food, and fun. Find more info at www.westbysyttendemai.com.

So what are you waiting for? Brush off the bunad and get ready for some scandihoovian fun!

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Wanna Race?

We love getting a good race on our calendars to get us motivated to lace up those running shoes, head outdoors, and get a bit of exercise in the Driftless! Feeling the same way? Sign up for one of these road races or events on tap throughout the region this spring!

APRIL
April 17:

Sole Burner Hula Hustle 5K Run/Walk and Kids RunOnalaska, Wisconsin

MAY
May 1:
Unleash the She 5K and 10K Run, Kids Run, and Coed Walk, Rochester, Minnesota

May 7:
Grandad Half Marathon 13.1M Run and Three Rivers 5K Run/Walk
La Crosse, Wisconsin

Rockin’ Robin Run, 20K, Half-Marathon, and 10K Runs; 5K Run/Walk; and Kids RunRochester, Minnesota

May 20:
Stay Out of the Sun Run 5K and 10KRochester, Minnesota

May 21:
Root River TriathlonHouston, Minnesota

May 28:
Barre 5K Shuffle Run/WalkBarre Milles, Wisconsin

May 29:
Scheels Med City Marathon and Half MarathonRochester, Minnesota

JUNE
June 4:
Driftless Discovery Trail Run 10K, 5K, 1M Trail RunDecorah, Iowa

Chester Woods Trail Races 50K, 10M, 5K Trail RunEyota, Minnesota

Rhubarb Run 5K, 1M RunLanesboro, Minnesota

June 18:
Running with the Stars 5K Run/WalkLa Crosse, Wisconsin

Insane Inflatable 5K Obstacle RunRochester, Minnesota

June 19:
Got Energy Triathlon, Sprint and IntermediateWest Salem, Wisconsin

Rochester Triathlon, Sprint and OlympicRochester, Minnesota

What We’re Loving: Driftless Winter 2015-16

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A little list of what we think is awesome in the Driftless Region right now…

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Hotel Winneshiek + Fun Events

Have we mentioned how lucky we feel to have the beautiful Hotel Winneshiek operating in our community? It is a seriously amazing anchor to Downtown Decorah – the renovation of the historical property in 2000 brought new life and new businesses to (the already pretty hopping) Water Street, and it’s not too shabby to look at, either.

In more recent years, the Hotel Winneshiek has also been a hub of fun activity. Their new motto is “The Welcome is Real” – they hope folks will think of the terrazzo-floored lobby as the community living room, and the Steyer Opera House as a place to dance and have fun. To drive this notion home, they’ve hosted some pretty cool events – ranging from their “Live in the Lobby” music series to the dead-of-the-winter Winneshiek Music Festival. This whole “why have it if you don’t use it” mentality is one we can get behind. Seriously – get that China out of the cupboard, people! And get those butts off the couch for some of these great events:

Winneshiek Wedding Market, January 24, 2016 – Three floors of wedding fun! We think the idea of strolling all around the Hotel, mimosa in-hand, as you plan your wedding sounds like a lot of fun. Details at hotelwinn.com.

Winneshiek Music Festival, January 29-31, 2016 – There’s a great line-up of local and regional favorites for this year’s fest! Check out the poster on page 18!

Live in the Lobby, Sundays and Tuesdays (schedule starts again in spring, with occasional pop-ups this winter) – Free music performances in the Hotel lobby! Check Hotel Winneshiek Facebook page for details.

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Grown-Up Coloring Books! Sonja Emily, Chuck U, etc.

OK, ok, ok… so you may have already caught the ‘rage’ of coloring books for grown-ups. It’s everywhere! What’s the big deal about coloring? Many psychologists are saying filling in those blank little spaces with color is the next best thing to meditation – that it’s a huge stress-reliever and a great way to relax the mind. It’s become so popular, in fact, that almost half of the best-selling books on Amazon (Dec 2015) are adult coloring books.

Lucky for us, some local and regional artists have jumped on board the coloring train. And we totally love that! Check out this issue’s “Paper Project” from Luther grad / Minneapolis artist Sonja Emily. She currently has coloring gift cards for sale at Milkhouse Candles and Gifts in Decorah, and is rumored to be stocking them up with some coloring books soon, too. We love her fun and whimsical work (you can get more details about Sonja on page 32). One of our other favorite Minneapolis artists, “Chuck U” has also turned several of his incredible – and often totally intricate – works into a totally entertaining coloring book, plus our local Dragonfly Books (you can read more about THEM on page 24) has a great variety of coloring books to choose from too! Hooray for creative outlets for, truly, anyone!

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Neste Valley Reserve / Dry Run Trail

Back in 2013, the Neste Family partnered with the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation and the Winneshiek County Conservation board to start the process of converting their 170-acre heritage farm into a new park just outside of Decorah. The INHF was able to secure the property from the family and will transfer it to the Winneshiek County Conservation Board once fundraising on the million-dollar project has been completed. The property encompasses an impressive span of land including oak savannas, wetlands, and one mile of the Dry Run Creek, which will all be permanently protected as parkland. It’s the first new park established by WCC in 21 years! Exciting!

The property will also be the link that will allow an 8-mile Dry Run Trail to connect the Trout Run and Prairie Farmer Trails in Calmar via Highway 52. That would make over 43 miles of nonstop trail in Northeast Iowa! We love this vision, and want to encourage our readers to donate to the INHF in the name of this project – they still need $235,000 to make it happen! Getting this park in action would be an amazing gift to pass on to future generations (and a great way to start Living Generously). Find more information at inhf.org/neste-valley-recreation-area.cfm or by contacting Winneshiek County Conservation at www.winneshiekwild.com or 563-534-7145.

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Luren Singers / Dave Judisch to receive The Medal of St. Olav

DaveJudishWe love the Nordic roots that run so very deep in our little Northeast Iowa community, and it would be hard to embody the Decorah/Nordic connection more than the Luren Singing Society has for the past 148+ years. This group lives up to its motto “We Love to Sing” – in Norwegian, to boot. Although the Society has humble roots, as it prepares to celebrate its 150th anniversary in 2018, others are taking notice as well. Earlier this fall, the Norwegian Honorary Consul General notified long-time director Dr. David Judisch that he had been awarded The Medal of St. Olav by His Majesty King Harald V of Norway.

The medal is awarded to only a handful of honorees each year in recognition of “outstanding services rendered in connection with the spreading of information about Norway abroad and for strengthening the bonds between expatriate Norwegians and their home country.” It is an award of high-distinction given to non-Norwegian citizens. Judisch has directed the Luren singers for over 40 years, and has been in director-in-chief of the NSAA (Norwegian Singers Association of America) for over 30. During that time he has also helped lead seven tours of male choir singers to Norway to perform and travel. Judisch will be presented the award on February 4, 2016 at the Luther College Convocation in the CFL. Congrats to Dr. Judisch and the Luren Singing Society! For more information and performance schedules, visit: www.lurensingers.com

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