Posts Tagged: nordic fest

Live Generously: Ward Budweg

Ward BudwegWard Budweg has helped build a library in Rwanda, install a clean-water-catching system in Panama, and paint an orphanage in Peru.

But perhaps no place has benefited more from his unrelenting service ethic than Decorah, Iowa, his home of more than 30 years.

“Pay it forward or give it back – it makes no difference,” says Ward, a local carpenter, handyman, and self-described “helper.” “I just know that without the assistance I received from people in the past, I would not be in a position help others today.”

Today this New Hampton, Iowa, native volunteers as council president of Decorah Lutheran Church and a board member of the Decorah Rotary Club, an organization he has also served as treasurer, vice president, and – you guessed it! – president since becoming a member in 1984. He’s also served on the local Elks Club board, completed terms on local tourism and parks and recreation boards, volunteered as director of the annual Nordic Fest Elveløpet race (during its infancy in the mid-1980s), and helped get the Decorah Rotary Club’s Loop de Loop race – which just marked four years in September – up and, yes, running.

It’s no coincidence that much of Ward’s volunteerism through the years – from chairing meetings to picking up garbage along Highway 9 – has been intertwined with the work of the local Rotary chapter.

Indeed, were it not for the generosity of the New Hampton Rotary Club years ago, says Ward, there’s a very good chance he would never have earned his bachelor’s degree in finance from the University of Northern Iowa in 1980.

“They loaned me $1,000 to finish my degree, and I never had to fill out a single piece of paperwork because they trusted me to pay it back,” he recalls. “I repaid that thousand dollars years ago, but I will never be able to repay the kindness, generosity, and belief in me those Rotarians showed. That is what continues to motivate me to give back whenever – and however – I can.”– by Sara Friedl-Putnam

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Live Generously: Mark Faldet

Mark FaldetIt’s easy to let fifth-generation Decorah native Mark Faldet fool you: He’s the kind of guy who, having traveled the region for work at Luther College for 30 years, could tell you – down to the last left-hand turn – how to get to the best pulled-pork sandwich shop in Iowa. BUT, he himself has never lived more than a mile as the crow flies from his childhood home, a farm on the first crest of Locust Road. In fact, he’s never been away from Decorah for more than 13 consecutive days in his 60-ish years. “It was never my intention,” he says, “but it’s been a pretty good bit of luck, or fate.”

Mark’s was perhaps the hardest interview to procure in this series, thoroughly convinced as he was that none of his volunteerism would warrant this kind of attention. Though in many ways, his under-sung turns of community service are among the most accessible – the smallest of gestures that make a small town thrive.

Some will recognize him as a long-time member of Decorah’s city Tree Board, a division of the street department that oversees the planting and maintenance of the town’s majestic boulevard trees. Others cite him as a regular visitor to the area’s nursing homes, where he knows and is known by the generations that created the fabric of his childhood. Through his high school years, his extended family celebrated every aunt, uncle, and cousin’s birthday together.

And still others have seen Mark pushing a self-fashioned broom/pan contraption down Water Street after the annual Nordic Fest parade, taking some of the back-breaking work out of scouring for candy wrappers, paper decorations, and other debris. When it looks like rain, he’s cleaning leaves and branches out of storm drains in his Broadway neighborhood, where he’s lived for 28 years. And when the snowmelt pools and freezes on the sidewalks in spring, he’s been known to scrape and salt his block, then the next, and sometimes the next.

“To stay in the town you grew up in is in many ways a lot harder than moving away to ‘grow up,’” he says, his eyebrows shooting up in reference to youthful antics he had to live down as he matured. “There’s something about the way people in a community like this still depend on each other that compels them to do right by each other, to give back more freely. It’s understood: you don’t give away what you expect to get back – you can always tell the newcomers by this, you know? – but in return, you get a community with the right balance of understanding and generosity and forgiveness. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.” – by Kristine Jepsen

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Wheekend! July 24-26, 2015


It’s Nordic Fest in Decorah! But, of course, life outside the crater does go on…here’s a fun list of what’s happening in Decorah AND around the Driftless. Have a happy #wheekend, friends!

It rainy here in Decorah this Friday, so here are some dry-ish Nordic Fest ideas for you!
• Visit Vesterheim Museum (trunk shows, demonstrations, and more!)
• Check out the Arts and Crafts Center in the Decorah Middle School (405 Winnebago, 9 am – 4 pm)
• Pop in and out of Decorah businesses for fun shopping!
• Buy your Nordic Fest program and button at the Chamber/CVB for a chance to win $500!
• Visit the artists and friends at the ArtHaus Art Fair!
• Ride the Decorah Trolley (12pm-5pm). See drop off/pick up points in the Nordic Fest program.
• Catch an Oneota Film Festival screening at the Bethania Church near Vesterheim
• Indoor live music! Sister at Carrie Lee School Auditorum (3 pm)
• Visit the Porter House Museum
• Tour the Locust School (1-4 pm)

Now, on to the #wheekend! July 24-26, 2015:

Friday, July 24:
Friday Night Live Farmers Market, Driftless Area Wetlands Centre, Marquette, IA, 4-7 pm

Fatbook Funk Band, the Root Note, La Crosse, 8:45 pm

On Canopy 5 at Nordic Fest: Miles Adams Band (5 pm) & the Cory Farley Band (8 pm)

People Brothers Band, The Haymarket, Decorah, 10 pm

Saturday, July 25:
Enjoy Nordic Fest! No Winneshiek Farmers Market this morning!

Dino Day, Driftless Area Wetlands Centre, Marquette, 9am-5pm

Absolute Hoot, Courtyard and Cellar, Decorah, 8 pm

WORLD’S LARGEST SCHOTTISCHE! Register! Official count is at 8:50 pm; Foot Notes start at 7:30 pm.

Four Legg Fish & Moon Chicken, the Root Note, La Crosse, 8:45 pm

Finding Nemo, Movies on the Plaza, Rochester, 9 pm

The Heavy Set / General B & the Wiz, Eds (no name) Bar, Winona, 9 pm

Pistol Whippin Party Penguins, The Haymarket, Decorah, 10 pm

Nordic Fest Fireworks! Decorah, 10 pm

On Canopy 5 at Nordic Fest: Gaelstorm (5 pm) & AudioDrive (8 pm)

Sunday, July 26:
FWD Movement Sunday Ride! All riders from beginner to experienced are invited to check out Decorah mountain bike trails. 5 pm. Registration online!

All (or most of the) wheekend:
ArtHaus Summer Art Fair, Fri/Sat

Sister, Carrie Lee School Auditorium, Decorah, Fri/Sat, 3 pm

Only a couple more weeks left to check out Great River Shakespeare Festival in Winona!

Have we mentioned it’s NORDIC FEST? Check out our (totally subjective) itinerary ideas here, & the Official Nordic Fest Program here.