Sunday, July 15, 2007

A Delightful Time in Decorah!

What a FANTASTIC weekend! I just returned home from Decorah—the state’s hidden treasure of breath-taking scenery with rock bluffs and deep valleys. The Winneshiek County Fair was going on during my visit, along with the PRCA-sanctioned rodeo produced by the Three Hills Rodeo Company of Bernard, Iowa. I was glad to be working with the Morehead family again because they are always fun to help and put on a great rodeo! This was my last rodeo of the season to work with the Moreheads, which is sad, but thank you Dave, Marla, Jake, Courtney, Lindsay, Angie, and Ben Meyer for a great year!

During my time in Decorah I was granted the opportunity to do something I have always wanted to try—drive a team of horses! Julie Buddenberg, a 19-year-old local and talented young woman, let me drive her team of Belgian horses around the fairgrounds! I was thrilled to be in control of the lines, and cannot get over the power that was harnessed between my fingers! Julie taught me how to “swing” the team right and left by using verbal “gee” and “haw” cues. Just a little tidbit of information: the origin of the cowboy’s “yee haw” comes from a hitch drivers commands of “gee” and “haw.”

I am Julie’s newest, biggest fan because of her magnetic personality, amazing strength and talent in driving the horses, and for the many accomplishments she has achieved. Julie has driven teams of two, four, and six horses; not to mention work for the Priefert Percheron Hitch that travels all throughout the United States performing at rodeos, stock shows, and other events. Julie also supplies rides for weddings and other occasions, so if you are in need of these services, be sure to look her up!

Saturday, Julie (who is also the Winneshiek County Fair Princess) took the time to show me around beautiful Decorah. We started out with a tour of their very nice and state-of-the-art dairy farm where they milk 330 cows and house her big draught horses. I was impressed with how smoothly things seemed to run on the farm, and to find out they have the highest rolling herd average in the state of Iowa for milk production!

Once we left the dairy farm we headed to the north side of town to Dunning Spring, a beautiful waterfall running out of a cave in one of the rock bluffs. I was taken aback by how peaceful the area was—and to have it in Iowa! Once we left the spring, we went to the Palisade lookout area and overlooked the city of Decorah atop a rock bluff. If everyone knew how beautiful it was in Northeast Iowa they would want to live there! When we made it to the bottom of the bluff we drove across town and visited the state fish hatchery where they raise and transport brown and rainbow trout to stock Iowa streams and lakes.

During the fair I was honored by getting to judge the apple pie contest—what a tasty experience! I was sure to take quite a few sample bites from each pie to make sure I picked the right winners . . . not to mention it was right around lunch time! I met the large County Fair Royalty Court, complete with beef and dairy princesses, and got to take a picture with them—I felt honored to be surrounded by all of the beauty!

Though it was hard to leave, after the rodeo was over Saturday night and the horses were unsaddled, I departed from Decorah—but had a permanent smile on my face as I thought back to all of the wonderful things I got to do this past weekend. I am very glad I was able to make the trip and the Winneshiek County Fair Committee welcomed me to their event. I would like to thank Ted and Edna Schramdt for all of their help in making me feel welcome and part of the fair.

I have had such a wonderful time this summer traveling throughout Iowa getting to experience for myself what an extraordinary state I am blessed to live in! Thank you, once again, to everyone who has helped make this year possible, real, and wonderful! I will write again when I return home from Centerville and Lenox!