Posts Categorized: Things

Inspire(d) Love: Fall 2014!


By Inspire(d) Staff

Lanesboro Arts Campus
The Lanesboro Arts Center is on a mission to make this Minnesotan town – the entire town (population 743) – the perfect place to experience some creativity. After 21 years of bringing art to the community, the Lanesboro Arts Center is launching a new arts campus with three components: art in public spaces, buildings that house the arts, and pedestrian walkways. Instead of bringing the community to the arts center, they’re making the arts center the community! One of our favorite new projects this fall is parking poetry. What could be better than a drive-in haiku? Although, their surprise sculpture project comes close. Community members work together to create a sculpture and then display it in a public space for everyone and anyone to happen upon. And they keep it fresh – continually creating new work so they can switch out the old and bring in the new. Check out a Night of Poetry on September 13, Swingsation Gala Fundraiser November 8, or the Art Center’s year-round exhibition gallery!

Driftward Press
Decorah pals Cerrisa Snethen and Jeanine Scheffert have launched a cool new project that we’re really excited about: Driftward Press. It is “an awesomely affordable regional art subscription.” They kicked the whole thing off with an Indiegogo fundraiser that pulled in more than double their goal! Their mission is to deliver great regional art AND writing, right to your mailbox each month– much like a CSA from a farmer, but this time for art! A subscriber – for about the price of a monthly Netflix membership – gets a lovely, frame-able work by a local artist, along with a totally unique piece of local writing. It’s a great way for an average person to build a local art collection (their radius will extend 150 miles around Decorah). Artist submissions may be entered for review at As the Driftward Press ladies say: “Art is good for you.”

Sigmund Årseth & Giants of the Earth
Giants of the Earth in Spring Grove will be celebrating a Giant in the Art World this fall: Sigmund Arseth. The legacy of this Norwegian artist is the highlight of the Giants of the Earth Bicentary event October 18-19, 2014.

Arseth was one of the most well-known Norwegian painters of his time. His murals cover walls in Vesterheim buildings and at the Spring Grove Giants of the Earth’s offices. He often taught rosemaling in Decorah at Vesterheim as well. He passed away in 2012.

There will be receptions both days of Bicentary Celebration, with performances by the Luren Singers and Thankful Brass. In addition to the unveiling of a life-size bronze sculpture of Årseth in the Enger Garden, an exhibit of art created by Sigmund Årseth students will be on display all weekend. (Call for artists and works deadline October 11 email:

Organizers are also reaching out to all artists who studied with Sigmund, encouraging them to come with their art and be part a documentary being prepared for the Årseth Family. The documentary filming of students and public recalling of Sigmund memories will occur throughout the weekend and then be presented to the Årseth family. Finally, a celebration dinner and auction of rare Sigmund works will cap off Saturday evening.

Complete schedule is available at:

Pumpkin Patches/Corn Mazes
Fall is an exciting time at Inspire(d) HQ – for lots of reasons, but especially because we love all that the season brings with it! Pumpkin patches, corn mazes, haunted houses, bon fires, football games, hot chocolate, Oktoberfest beers – we could go on. Our friends at Pinter’s Gardens & Pumpkins just west of Decorah do it up big in the fall. Kick-off for the Pumpkin Patch and all of its glorious fun is Saturday, September 20 and runs through October 31st. Meanwhile, just east of Elgin, Iowa – the Maize Maze kicks into action each Saturday & Sunday through Halloween. This year’s theme is “Udderly Amazing” featuring a tribute to Iowa’s dairy producers. The Maize Maze is located at the Gilbertson Center, 22580 A. Ave. Elgin, IA. More information

Holiday Lights, Magical Nights Celebrates 10 Years!
Christmas time is a magical time, and so is the tradition of the “drive-thru” lights at Decorah’s Pulpit Rock Campground each year. It’s fun, AND supports a good cause! But we also want to make sure you know about the annual Holiday Lights 5k Run November 29th – folks get to say “I’m not staying in yet” to winter, put on a holiday costume, and run it out. Families are encouraged to join in on the fun, awards, and bon fire. It’s pretty great.

This year, Helping Services of NE Iowa celebrate 10 years of Holiday Lights Magical Nights. The display opens Thanksgiving night (11/27) and runs through December 27. Santa makes nightly appearances, prizes are given away, and funds are raised for all that Helping Services provides to the region. Many opportunities for volunteering and donating in special ways to Holiday Lights also exist – check it all out:

2nd Annual NE Iowa Farm Crawl


How do local farmers successfully grow fruits and vegetables, produce flowers and herbs, make ice cream and butter, and even bottle wine? Find out during the 2nd Annual Farm Crawl: Taste of Northeast Iowa. This self-guided tour offers a glimpse of the day-to-day workings of 12 Northeast Iowa farms. You might even find fun kids’ activities and local foods to buy and cook up for dinner! Click here to download a pdf of the map and farm details.

Where: Northeast Iowa
When: September 27, 2014
For more information:

Making a Scene… “Shameless” James ‘JR’ Ronan / Dance and Stay Young (DASY)

The following is part II in a series entitled “Making A Scene” from the Fall 2014 issue of Inspire(d) Magazine.
Part I – featuring Tanya Gertz & the Luther College Center Stage Series can be found here.

Interview by Benji Nichols


The elusive, James ‘JR’ “Shameless” James Ronan.

Inspire(d) caught up with five different leaders in the Driftless Region who have been helping make amazing performances happen in venues large and small. From fine art performances, to rockabilly queens, to alcohol free rock and roll, and the Blues, these are the people who truly make it happen. Hats off to these fine folks and the amazing people that work with them to “make a scene” – say thanks the next time you see them (just look for the wizard behind the curtain – or more likely running around making it all happen!). Better yet, buy a ticket and go see the shows!

Shameless” James Ronan – Dance and Stay Young – DASY

DASY support live music poster colorizedIn the past 25 years, James “JR” Ronan has had one mission: promote and support live music. Blues, rock, reggae, rock-a-billy – you name it, DASY has touched on it in some way. A music-lover to the core, Ronan has helped bring countless regional and national acts to Northeast Iowa, including 14 Halloween shows with the Dustbowl Blues Band. From being the partnering force behind McCaffrey’s Dolce Vita nights – bringing great roots music to Twin Spring Road every Saturday night of the Summer season, to having a huge hand in preserving Iowa’s ballroom culture, and promoting the Iowa Rock & Roll Hall of Fame – Ronan is shamelessly committed to “the scene.”

He’s claiming to be hanging up his promoting shoes with a 25th Anniversary DASY blowout this October 11th at the Inwood Ballroom in Spillville – featuring “Blue Mississippi” – a conglomeration of the rock & roll hall of fame founding members of the Blue Band as well as the Mississippi Band. Other artists like Paul Kaye and the Blues Cartel and Lew Klemish will also be on the bill. If you know Shameless James, you know he won’t be able to sit still for long, but the word is out that this is (a­­lmost!) it for DASY. See you on the dance floor at the Inwood October 11th!

How’d you get into presenting events?


‘Shameless’ with the legendary Dogs – reunion tour L to R Erik Burg, J. Ronan, Jody Koenig, Ole Torvig, Mark Stumme. Photo: Tracey Martin Stummer

I got bit by the bug early – helping other people out. John Matter, Ear Food Magazine out of La Crosse, the radio stations – there weren’t that many venues, and artists needed and deserved to be treated well. So on Halloween 1989, I put the Dustbowl Blues Band in the Highlandville School House – costume show, the whole deal. They were my “good luck band” for 14 years in a row with Halloween shows. Highlandville, The Elks, Matters downstairs and then upstairs when it grew. But the name came from when I was just a kid, 10 or 12. I remember standing on the dance floor of a ballroom – and seeing “Dance and Stay Young” up on the wall. It stuck. “DASY”, shortened, didn’t come until later – but it seemed right. Dance and Stay Young – that’s how it started. Quality and class acts – that’s what I’ve always looked for.


Do you have a most “exciting” live moment?

The biggest highlight of the last 25 years was Canned Heat at the Inwood – I tried for months to put that together and didn’t get anywhere. Finally I got through to Skip Taylor and it clicked. There’s also a whole book’s worth on Commander Cody at the Inwood in 2007. Bringing David Honeyboy Edwards to Decorah – twice – is right up there too. He loved playing at Chase the Adventure – said it reminded him of the places he started out in the south. That’s also how I met Paul Kaye, who’s come back several times and is playing on the show October 11.

If you could present one show with anyone in the world – past or present – who would it be?

I’d love to see Tony Joe White come to Northeast Iowa. I saw him play on Beale Street for his birthday – just him and his drummer BoomBoom – and in Iowa City once years ago, opening for Richie Havens. He just doesn’t get out much anymore – doesn’t have to I guess.

What are you excited about in the near future?dasy 25th poster

Oh man, I’m excited about the Blue Mississippi show at the Inwood in Spillville. The Inwood is great – a lot of new life being put into that room. And I’m working on bringing some of the Matter’s nostalgia back to the Inwood – its just too bad that Matter’s is gone. But there are a lot of memories from there and we’re focusing a lot of energy on the Inwood now – it’s such a neat place. Most of all, though, I just have to thank the bands, all the local music lovers, and the countless businesses that have supported these DASY shows over the years. They’re the real reason any of this has happened – I can’t thank them enough for 25 years of Dancing and Staying Young!