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KDEC Home, Sport and Garden Show and Empty Bowls

Sunday has always been fun-day in my book, and this coming Sunday, March 7, will fit the bill perfectly. It’s supposed to be in the 40s and sunny, so don’t stay inside – take that spring fever and put it to good use.

First, head out for one of the best Northeast Iowa spring traditions: KDEC’s 27th Annual Home Sport and Garden Show at the Decorah High School. Go early for pancakes and sausage served up to benefit Sunflower Childcare (starting at 9:30), then stroll through the booths inside to learn about landscaping and gardening, architectural design, hybrid vehicles, electronics, home construction, bicycles and more. There are more than 80 vendors signed up to help you dream about an ever-approaching spring season filled with possibilities. And kids can shoot hoops for a chance to win $100.5 savings bond from Decorah Bank and Trust! The Show is open from 10 am to 3 pm.

Next, take a walk on up the hill to Luther College’s Center for the Arts and enjoy the community’s fifth annual Empty Bowls fundraiser. 

Part of a nation-wide project to help stop world hunger, this event has become an extremely popular spring event. 

Local potters craft hundreds of bowls – and for just a $20 donation, attendees choose a bowl of their liking and can taste soup donated by local restaurants, businesses, and individuals. The proceeds of the event will be divided between local food pantries and world hunger assistances through Lutheran World Relief. Soup is being served from 11 am to 2 pm. The event raised $18,000 last year; let’s help them surpass that amazing mark this year! Supplemental funds are provided by Thrivent Financial for Lutherans.

We hope you get out of the house this Sunday for a great Fun Day, dream of big projects to come, and put some food in your belly that helps local and national organizations as well.

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Center on Sustainable Communities (COSC) presents “Affordable Green Building Training: West Union” beginning January 8, 2010. The free 10-session workshop series offers contractors, subcontractors, planners, architects, appraisers, city officials and other professionals a valuable opportunity to gain a comprehensive understanding of green building best practices. A separate 3-session homeowner series begins February 6 and gives community residents an overview of green building basics, alternative energy options and essential sustainable elements of new home construction.

“Affordable Green Building Training: West Union” is provided by COSC’s Re-Building a Sustainable Iowa training program to support Northeast Iowa’s disaster recovery efforts and Main Street West Union’s Green Pilot Community initiatives. As Iowa’s trusted educational resource for sustainable building, COSC secured a $1 million contract from the Iowa Department of Economic Development (IDED) and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) this year. The contract enables COSC to deliver its Re-Building a Sustainable Iowa curriculum to regions hardest hit by natural disasters. Fayette County is a federally declared disaster area and towns in neighboring counties received extensive damage. “This training will help build the capacity in northeast Iowa to rebuild in a more sustainable fashion resulting in homes that are more energy efficient, durable, healthy and cost effective,” says IDED Project Manager Jeff Geerts.

These priorities align with West Union’s recent designation as a Green Pilot Community by IDED. The pilot project will create best practices and allow the city to serve as a model for other communities to become more environmentally friendly. While the Green Pilot Community efforts focus on the Main Street District and West Union’s infrastructure, COSC’s “Affordable Green Building Training: West Union” will help the community diversify the benefits of its sustainability efforts by including the residential sector.

“In leading a collaborative effort with multiple partners,” COSC Executive Director Lynnae Hentzen explains, “our goal with the Re-Building a Sustainable Iowa program is to build a platform for consistent, comprehensive, sustainable building trainings; using local expertise to implement national standards.” For “Affordable Green Building Training: West Union,” COSC is partnering with the City of West Union, Main Street West Union, Fayette County Economic Development, and the Northeast Iowa Community Action Corporation. COSC has contracted instructor and green building expert Jacob Kvinlaug to conduct each workshop in the series. Sustainable building experts from Innovative Kinetics, Cenergy, Fishaus: Craftsman Builders, and Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship will provide additional instruction at specific sessions.

Both the professional and homeowner sessions of “Affordable Green Building Training: West Union” will take place at Tap’t Out Stein & Dine, located at 122 S. Vine Street, West Union, Iowa. The series will feature on-site training aspects focusing on three affordable green demonstration homes that are currently being built in the cities of West Union, Tripoli and Volga. The first professional series workshop on January 8, 2010 will be an introduction to green building basics, addressing planning and design, building science theory and the house-as-a-system approach. Registration is required and seating is limited. To register, contact Leslie Berckes at COSC by calling 515-707-2787 or emailing her at leslie@icosc.com . Complete information on the “Affordable Green Build ing Training: West Union” workshop series schedule and COSC can be found at www.icosc.com and www.facebook.com/icosc

About COSC and Re-Building a Sustainable Iowa

Center on Sustainable Communities (COSC) is an independent non-profit and serves as Iowa’s trusted educational resource for sustainable building. COSC empowers individuals and communities to make everyday decisions that promote sustainability, resulting in higher standards of living. More information is at www.icosc.com.

COSC’s Re-Building a Sustainable Iowa free statewide training program covers residential, commercial and energy-specific sectors of the green building industry. The program aids Iowa’s disaster recovery efforts and is designed to utilize local expertise to implement national standards. In leading a collaborative effort with multiple partners, COSC’s Re-Building a Sustainable Iowa program improves the state’s ability to construct homes and commercial buildings that are energy efficient, cost effective, healthy and structurally sound. Re-Building a Sustainable Iowa is supported by the Iowa Department of Economic Development (IDED) through funding from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

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It’s already time for the November First Friday! Get a head start on your holiday shopping and visit Downtown Decorah to enjoy a night where select stores stay open late, extra events are planned, and there is a load of fun to be had. See what’s happening here! And don’t forget to stop by The Perfect Edge to check out Carl Homstad’s latest work, but before you go click on over to www.theinspiredmedia.com to read a story about him by Benji Nichols.



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Don’t miss all the great Downtown Decorah fun at the September First Friday. Check out the events here:


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Dear Readers, Friends, Fans, and passers-by,


Hi! You’ve reached our blog. We use this space to post about upcoming events we think are particularly cool or silly things we just want to share. Our website has lots and lots of great feature stories, multimedia like video and audio, an events calendar and more. Visit us over there too! We think you’ll like it!

Looking forward!


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This weekend, August 21-23 is the 1st Annual DigIN Festival in Decorah, IA. The Decorah Iowa Green Initiative (DigIN) is a chance for you to visit our awesome little corner of Northeast Iowa and see what’s happening with progressive green and sustainable technologies. Check out the full schedule at www.digindecorah.com – and come to Decorah this weekend. Registration & maps will be available throughout Saturday for the sustainable farm & home tours, and the KDEC Green Expo on Sunday, August 23 will provide a chance for everyone to check out the latest and greatest in green technology.

Check out these great events throughout the weekend:fresh_poster_small

Friday August 21 – 8pm – Street Dance with the Foot-Notes. Washington St. near Water Street (across from the Hotel Winneshiek). Rain location at the Elks Lodge in Decorah – corner of River & Main near Viking State Bank.

Saturday August 22 – all day! Sustainable Farm & Home Tours. CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION. Special tours of homes and farms featuring sustainable technologies – also great efvents annd tours at the Seed Savers Exchange in rural Decorah both Saturday and Sunday!

Saturday Night August 22 – Screening of ‘FRESH’ the movie – 8pm, Decorah High School auditorium – free for registered DigIN members, $5 for non-registrants. ALSO Saturday evening – A Garden Party with Maritza at the home & gardens of David Cavagnaro- 7pm. Click Here for more details!

Sunday August 23 - The KDEC Green Expo at the Winneshiek Co. Fair Grounds 11am-4pm. Green businesses will show off their products and services and two informational seminar tents will have programs throughout the day! FREE for all – don’t miss this great chance to speak to professionals from across the spectrum and learn more about cutting edge green technology and sustainability.

SEE YOU at the first annual DigIN Festival this weekend in Decorah!

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First Friday TODAY!

Have you gone to First Fridays in Decorah yet? You should! It’s a fun and fabulous way to celebrate the end of the work week and get out for some great deals and entertainment. Here’s what is happening tonight and next month.


So what IS First Fridays?

Many cities from coast-to-coast have taken on a new series of events dedicated to the end of the workweek, the favorite day of all days: Friday. First Fridays, held quite simply on the first Friday of each month, are downtown events dedicated to creating fun, festive activities and stimulating local economy.

Participating businesses or organizations within the First Fridays district will stay open late and host special events in their different locations. Food and drink specials, sales, live music, art openings or special gallery showings – all could take place on one First Friday. Current participating First Friday businesses are: Ace Kitchen Place, Agora Arts, Albert’s in the Hotel Winneshiek, Amundson’s Clothing, ArtHaus, Fancy Pants, KD Rae, and Rubaiyat. Businesses interesting in participating in future First Friday events in Decorah should contact Gail Bolson-Magnuson of Agora Arts at gail@agoraarts.com.

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Sarah_Pratt_ButterCowWith roots dating as far back as the 1400s, butter has been used in various ways to create art, and since the early 1900s the Iowa State Fair has featured a “Butter Cow.” The list of those individual responsible for creating such a work of art is surprisingly short, and Inspire(d) was lucky enough to catch up with the latest heir to the title of “Butter Sculpter”.
It is worth noting that the construction of a butter figure is even more complex than it seems. Over 600 pounds of low moisture, pure cream Iowa butter, are used to cover a frame constructed of wood, metal, wire, and steel mesh. Inside a 40 degree cooler, Sarah Pratt applies layer upon layer of butter until an almost full size figure comes to life. It’s also worth noting that the butter is not wasted – in fact, it is often used to create sculptures for up to ten years – so no sneaking a taste! The Midwest Dairy Association has sponsored the attraction since 1960, and we are proud to have spoken with Sarah Pratt for this interview.

Name:  Sarah Prattbuttercow
Age:   32
Profession:  Teacher at Phenix Elementary Early Childhood Center in West Des Moines

I: Where did you grow up?
SP: I grew up in Toledo, IA

I: How did you get involved with Norma ‘Duffy’ Lyon helping create the butter sculptures?
SP:I grew up knowing Duffy and went to school with her grandkids.  But it was actually a trip to the State Fair to help a friend of mine, Kari Lyon, who also happens to be the great-neice of Norma.  She was showing dairy cattle and I went along to experience life in the Dairy Barn.  While Kari was in the show ring I was put to work in the Butter cooler, cleaning buckets and softening butter.  The next year Norma called me and invited me to help again.  I continued to help and Duffy trained me over the next 15 or so years.

I: What’s your favorite butter sculpture or cow that you have created?
SP: I enjoyed sculpting Harry Potter.  There were so many fun things to incorporate from the stories.  But the sculpture that I was and am the most passionate about is the piece I sculpted last year honoring Norman Borlaug.  So many are unaware of his accomplishments and the difference he has made in the world!  It was a priveledge to share Mr. Borlaugs story with Fairgoers.

I: What else will you be carving besides the cow for the 2009 Fair?
SP: I will be sculpting a scene from the Apollo 11 mission.  “One small step for man, a giant leap for mankind.”

I: How long does it take you to create the sculptures?
SP: I work for about 3 weeks before the Fair begins.

I: Any comments about working with butter as a medium? Tricks of the trade?
SP: At the right temperature butter is very much like clay.  The trick is to get the butter to that point and keep it there.

I: Anyone you’d like to acknowledge or thank?
I want to thank Norma for all of her support!  Without her confidence in my ability I would have never believed I could do it.  And of course I need to thank my husband, Andy.  He is a great sounding board for ideas and has spent many hours helping me plan and build the armatures.

The Iowa State Fair runs from August 13 to 23, 2009 in Des Moines and you can get in on the butter sculpting action! Submit your name for a chance to test your skills in an all-new Butter Sculpting Competition at the fair. Names will be drawn following each Milking Demonstration in the Milking Parlor at 11 a.m., 3 and 7 p.m. August 17-23. See you at the Fair! www.iowastatefair.org

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The absence of a late summer music and art festival in Decorah has been lamented for a few years now, and an ambitious group of young

The Blend

The Blend

musicians in the Decorah Area are making things happen. David Polansky (aka Die Sloe), and Kyle Sorenson (Dj Smiley), along with beat-guy Jordan Meltzer, collectively known as Per Capita Entertainment are organizing “Recession Fest – a top quality music festival at recession based prices…”.
The festival is set for Friday and Saturday September 11-12 at the Winneshiek County Fairgrounds in Decorah. So far the line-up includes everything from the humor of Iowa singer and song writer Mike RecessionFestMcAbee to the beats of Minneapolis based The Blend, to local hip-hoppers Die Sloe with DJ Smiley & Elite, and the heavy sounds of rockers November Juliet and Niobium. Other acts on the bill include Stable Daze, Fifth Amendment, Scholarly Pursuits, T.U.G.G., Disposable Heroes, Wonder Creek, Quite Point, and the Fifth Amendment Band.
Food and beverages will be available on the grounds, and weekend passes are now on sale for $12 in advance with a $15 price at the gates. Friday’s music starts at 4pm and Saturday is a marathon day starting at noon with almost a dozen acts. Ticket info and more available at 563-379-6277.

4:00- Open Mic
6:00- Fifth Amendment
7:30- Wonder Creek
9:00- Stable Daze

12:00- Quiet Point
1:00- November Juliet
2:00- Scholarly Pursuits
3:00- Mike McAbee
4:00- T.U.G.G.
5:00- Disposable Heroes
6:00- Niobium
7:00- Die Sloe w/ DJ Smiley & Elite
8:00- Thru The Static
9:00- The Blend
10:00- Easteighteen

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From the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs www.culturalaffairs.org

Decorah’s Trout Run Trail amongst 17 Iowa great places funding

(DES MOINES, Iowa) – Governor Chet Culver and Lt. Governor Patty Judge today announced that 17 cities and counties across the state will receive 23 Iowa Great Places grants totaling $1.9 million.

Now in its fifth year, Iowa Great Places is an initiative that combines state resources with local assets to help Iowans make their communities, regions, districts or neighorhoods great places to live, work and raise a family.

“With these grants, communities are taking their next steps in fulfilling their agreements with the state as part of the Iowa Great Places program,” Governor Culver said. “As Governor, I am pleased that state resources are being combined with local assets to improve the quality of life in these communities and create economic opportunities.”

“As I have traveled the state, I have seen the many unique and interesting things that make our state a great place,” said Lt. Governor Judge. “These funds will be instrumental in helping Iowa’s Great Place communities continue their work of highlighting all that Iowa has to offer.”

The Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs awarded $1.9 million to the following Iowa Great Places: Adams County, Appanoose County, Charles City, Council Bluffs, Davenport, Decorah, Dubuque, Fairfield, Guttenberg, Jackson County, Marquette-McGregor, Mason City, Perry, Spencer, Valley Junction, Warren County and West Union.

State agencies continue to work with Iowa Great Places to achieve their visions by identifying technical assistance and existing programs such as grant and financial aid programs.

Following is the list of Iowa Great Places funding announced today:

Adams County: Corning Opera House & Cultural Center – $20,000
Adams County: French Icarian Colony – $25,000
Adams County: Lake Icaria Improvements – $23,100
Appanoose County: Lelah Bradley Playing Fields – 150,000
Charles City: Riverfront Park Development – $179,450
Council Bluffs: Pedestrian Bridge Plaza Park – $43,164
Davenport: Centennial Park Sprayground – $100,000
Davenport: Front Porch Parkway – $100,000
Decorah: Trout Run Trail – $200,000
Dubuque: Millworking District Streetscape – $150,000
Fairfield: Bikeway/Walkway Plan – $45,000
Fairfield: Fairfield Loop Trail – $15,000
Fairfield: Maasdam Barns Restoration – $10,000
Guttenberg: Guttenberg Marina – $75,000
Jackson County: Copper Creek Trail – $100,000
Marquette-McGregor: Ina Maka Park – $50,000
Mason City: Park Inn & City National Bank Building – $89,286
Perry: Downtown Revitalization – $80,000
Spencer: Grand Enhancements – $80,000
Spencer: Spencer Community Theatre Remodel & Expansion – $85,000
Valley Junction: Historic City Hall – $20,000
Warren County: Memorial Park Amphitheatre – $100,000
West Union: Green Pilot Streetscape Project – $160,000

The Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs is responsible for developing the state’s interest in the areas of the arts, history and other cultural matters with the advice and assistance from its two divisions: the State Historical Society of Iowa and the Iowa Arts Council. DCA preserves, researches, interprets and promotes an awareness and understanding of local, state and regional history and stimulates and encourages the study and presentation of the performing and fine arts and public interest and participation in them. It implements tourism-related art and history projects as directed by the General Assembly and designs a comprehensive, statewide, long-range plan with the assistance of the Iowa Arts Council to develop the arts in Iowa. More information about DCA is available at www.culturalaffairs.org.

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