2021 Whalen and Shelter Reservations Information

2021 Whalen Cabin and picnic shelter reservation requests may be made by phone beginning Monday, January 4, at 8 am.  Reservation requests must be made by calling  563-382-4158 and leaving a message with your name, phone number, date and reservation request.  Phone calls and messages will be returned in the order they are received.  Messages received before 8 am on January 4 will not be considered. Walk-in and email requests will also not be considered on January 4.

Christmas with Good Shepherd

Good Shepherd Lutheran Church
Dec. 21, 5-8pm: A luminary display outside the church. Luminaries will be lit again on Christmas Eve.
Dec. 24, 10-11am: Walking Lessons and Carols with other congregations in downtown Decorah. Sign up for a spot:
Dec. 24, 5pm: Christmas Eve online worship will premiere at 5pm with live chat at the Good Shepherd Decorah YouTube Channel:
Dec. 25, anytime: share in an audio experience of music and readings available on the Good Shepherd YouTube channel.

Decorah Park-Rec Offers New Year’s Eve at Home Program

Ring in the New Year at home!

Decorah Parks & Recreation is creating a bag of supplies for families to celebrate New Year’s Eve at home. The bag will include crafts and activities for indoors and outdoors to help make New Year’s a special celebration amidst a year that has been unlike any other.

Families wishing to participate should register their children (bags are geared for ages 2-10 years) online by Wednesday, December 16. New Year’s Eve at Home bags will be available for families to pick up 8am-5pm Tuesday, December 29 outside the Park-Rec Office.

There is no cost to participate in this program, but a box for free will donations will be set up outside the Park-Rec Office throughout pick-up day.  Funds received will be used to support this and future free activities offered by Decorah Parks & Recreation.  If you have questions please contact the Park-Rec Office via email ([email protected]) or by calling 563-382-4158.

Decorah Park-Rec Begins Fire Pit Reservation Program

Warm Places in Outdoor Spaces: Fire Pit Reservation Program

Decorah Parks and Recreation is now offering a reservation program for fire pits at Phelps Park Shelter #1, Whalen Cabin, Will Baker Park, and Upper Twin Springs Park.   Firewood will be provided; patrons should bring their own chairs and are responsible for starting and extinguishing the fire.  Fire pits are available 7 days a week, but all reservations must be made Monday thru Friday, from 8 am to 5 pm, by calling the Park-Rec. Office at (563) 382-4158.

There is no reservation fee, but patrons are encouraged to make a free will donation to support the Decorah Parks System.  A cash donation or check payable to Decorah Park-Rec. may be put in an envelope addressed to Decorah Park-Rec. and dropped in the Water Bill Drop Off Slot at the front entrance of the Decorah Municipal Center.  You may also mail it to Decorah Park-Rec., PO Box 513, Decorah, IA 52101.

Decorah’s Landing Market Expands Partnership with Spectrum Network

The Landing, a modern-day food hall, announced today that it is expanding its restaurant opportunities for the Spectrum Network, a licensed program for adults with disabilities.

The Spectrum Network will operate a pop-up restaurant each Wednesday, using the space at Justin’s, a local food vendor at The Landing. Spectrum will initially make, sell and serve Landing customers a variety of soups from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Wednesday. This will resume December 2nd. Eventually, Spectrum will expand their service and begin offering breakfast and lunch to patrons. Spectrum’s: The Kitchen, currently sells to-go and takeaway food at The Landing’s marketplace.

These hours are subject to change in case of COVID closures. The Spectrum Network as well as The Landing Market are working hard to provide spaces as safe as possible in these times and prioritizing the health and safety of their staffs, always.

“It’s a win-win for both organizations,” said Peter Espinosa, owner of The Landing. “We are proud to provide Landing customers this excellent food option, while also supporting the mission of the Spectrum Network by providing meaningful work opportunities for disabled adults in a safe and community focused environment.”

“We’ve already seen success at The Landing with the to-go meal packages that our employees prepare,” said Mike Meirick, of the Spectrum Network. “By giving us access to Justin’s we have the opportunity to showcase the skills and capabilities of our team, and provide meaningful compensation for them.”

The Landing is a food hall and marketplace owned by Pete & Kari Espinosa, offering space for unique local food and product vendors including: The Buzz Coffee & Wine Bar, Justin’s, Deli Arts & Letters, Sugar Bowl, and coming soon Root 43 Juicery a new endeavor started by Josey and Micole Jewell. The Spectrum Network is a 501c3 non-profit dedicated to enriching the lives of disabled adults, serving ten counties in Iowa.

Winneshiek County Newspaper Archives now available online

Luther College and the Winneshiek County Historical Society work together to preserve written history

DECORAH, Iowa – Community members, students and anyone interested in researching the history of Winneshiek County are now able to access the Winneshiek County Newspaper Archives online. Presented by the Luther College Preus Library and Winneshiek County Historical Society, the Winneshiek County Newspaper Archives includes the digitization of more than 150 years of local newspapers.

The archive can be accessed by visiting

“This archive will benefit anyone interested in the history of Luther College and the communities in Winneshiek County, whether they are conducting research for a class, working on family genealogy or have a general interest in local history,” said Ryan Gjerde, director of Preus Library. “We see this project as a kick-start for future collaboration. The library and historical society look forward to working with new partners in order to add other county publications to the archive.”

Currently, the archive includes newspapers such as the Decorah Public Opinion, Decorah Journal, Decorah Republican and The Calmar Courier all beginning in the mid-1890s. In addition, the collection includes a number of smaller runs of papers published in Winneshiek County, with the oldest being the Decorah Weekly Journal from December 1857. This project was made possible after the Luther College Preus Library and the Winneshiek County Historical Society were jointly awarded more than $30,000 by the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs in 2018.

“The grant funded the digitization of microfilm copies of the papers held by the Luther College Preus Library. While microfilm is a great format for long-term preservation, unless you know the publication date of the article you are interested in, it can be pretty time consuming to hunt through reels of film to find what you are looking for,” explains Gjerde.

Now everyone has the ability to leisurely browse the site by looking at individual newspapers or there is a search function that allows users to quickly search the archives by using keywords, dates, names or places.

“Both the library and historical society have benefited from having easier access to newspapers, and are now able to direct users to the collection no matter where they are in the world,” said Gjerde.

The Winneshiek County Historical Society is a county organization with a mission to protect, collect, preserve, and promote the written, oral, and tangible items of historical importance to Winneshiek County and to cooperate with other organizations to accomplish common goals.

Luther College is home to more than 1,800 undergraduates who explore big questions and take action to benefit people, communities and society. Our 60+ academic programs, experiential approach to learning and welcoming community inspire students to learn actively, live purposefully and lead courageously for a lifetime of impact. Learn more at

Luther College professor Kate Elliott publishes art history book

DECORAH, Iowa – Dr. Kate Elliott, Luther College associate professor of art history, has published an art history book that explores visual representations of the first contact between European settlers and Native Americans. “Framing First Contact: From Catlin to Russell” is available for purchase where books are sold today. 

Dr. Kate Elliott

I actually got to work on the project during my last year of graduate school,” said Elliott. “I was interested in the representations of Native Americans by white American artists, and I kept noticing these history paintings of contact in all sorts of contexts. Asking why they were so popular in American art was enough to launch the entire project.” 

Elliott holds a Ph.D. in American art history from the University of Iowa and teaches a range of art history courses at Luther including American Art, History of Photography and Twentieth Century Art. “I always tease my students that there are few art history classrooms in America where so much attention is paid to George Catlin and Charlie Russell,” said Elliott. “We talk a lot about how paintings do not illustrate history, rather they help construct history and offer the artist’s specific agenda in the presentation of history.”

Elliott’s book helps uncover the less obvious messages of first contact paintings and forces readers, and her students to think about why we tell the stories we do and why those stories matter. 

“I’m still so excited about these paintings, and these artists, that I can’t help but to demonstrate that to the students,” Elliott said.  “I also know that they won’t all become art historians, but if I can model how to interrogate paintings and think critically about how stories from history are told visually, I know that they will become more sophisticated consumers of images in their own lives.”

“Framing First Contact: From Catlin to Russell”

Published by the University of Oklahoma Press, “Framing First Contact: From Catlin to Russell” will be available for purchase at the Luther Book Shop as well as local and major booksellers. 

In addition to teaching, Elliott is the director of the Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching and curator of the Fine Art Collection at Luther. She is the recipient of the Wyeth Foundation Predoctoral Fellowship, sponsored by the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington; the United States Capitol Historical Society Fellowship, Washington D.C.; and the H. George and Jutta F. Anderson Faculty Development Fund from Luther College. 

Luther College is home to more than 1,800 undergraduates who explore big questions and take action to benefit people, communities and society. Our 60+ academic programs, experiential approach to learning and welcoming community inspire students to learn actively, live purposefully and lead courageously for a lifetime of impact. Learn more at


Luther College presents virtual Haunted Lab

DECORAH, Iowa – Members of the Luther College physics and chemistry departments will present a virtual Haunted Lab experience this Halloween season. The video will feature fun and seasonal demonstrations to enjoy, as well as easy to follow directions to replicate them at home.

“We love putting on the Haunted Lab experience each year because we get to see the excitement as kids discover science through doing. While the Haunted Lab experience will be virtual this year, we are excited about the opportunity for kids of all ages to learn about science in their own homes,” says Erin Flater, associate professor of physics. “The process of recording experiments on video has been a lot of fun for our physics and chemistry students, and we hope our viewers enjoy watching and trying the experiments for themselves.”


Gather the following supplies to participate in one or more of the activities:

  • Balloon chemistry experiment: Empty water bottle, balloon, ¾ cup vinegar, 1 tablespoon of baking soda
  • Dissolving candy corn experiment: candy corns, vegetable oil, white vinegar, cold water, hot water
  • Exploding pumpkin experiment: a carved pumpkin, ½ cup of hydrogen peroxide, dish soap, 1 tablespoon of yeast, 3 tablespoons of water
  • Oobleck playdough experiment: 1 cup cornstarch, ½ cup water, food coloring


Luther’s virtual Haunted Lab experience is intended for budding scientists of all ages. The video will be released on Luther College’s official YouTube channel on Oct. 28. For more information, contact Erin Flater at (563) 387-1632 or [email protected].

Luther College will not be offering residence hall trick-or-treating this year due to COVID-19.

Luther College is home to more than 1,800 undergraduates who explore big questions and take action to benefit people, communities and society. Our 60+ academic programs, experiential approach to learning and welcoming community inspire students to learn actively, live purposefully and lead courageously for a lifetime of impact. Learn more at

The 38th Annual Decorah Park-Rec. Turkey Shoot is November 3

The 38th Annual Decorah Park-Rec. Turkey Shoot will be held in the DHS Main Gym on Tuesday, November 3, from 6:30 to 8:00 pm. Please note that face masks must be worn by all individuals upon entering the high school and at all times while inside the building. In this fun family event, a parent and child team up, combine their ages to determine their competition bracket, and each shoot 10 free throws in an attempt to win a certificate for a free turkey.   In addition, all teams are eligible for a prize drawing. Winning teams will be posted on the Park-Rec. website and Facebook by 5:00 pm on Wednesday, November 4.  This is a free activity, just show up!  This event is sponsored by Decorah Fareway, Deco Products Company, T-Bocks Sports Bar & Grill and The Family Table.

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