Before we tear down the stage and turn off the spotlight, I would be remiss if I didn't write a few paragraphs about "Light Up The Bluff" and how much it meant to Winneshiek County and the entire region during the past two decades.
The vision of brothers Randy and John Logsdon, Light Up The Bluff brought some of country music's best and brightest stars to the tiny community of Bluffton in the far northern part of the county ... legends in fact: Charlie Daniels, John Anderson, Confederate Railroad, Lorrie Morgan, Sammy Kershaw, Kenny Chesney, Bellamy Brothers, Joe Diffie, etc. etc.
Recognized as one of the most unique outdoor venues in all of country music, Light Up The Bluff was a fun, entertaining event that attracted thousands of fans. With great food and beverages available, the atmosphere was casual and relaxed. You could bring your lawn chair and sit just about anywhere you wanted, and many folks set up camp for the entire weekend.
I attended as many Light Up The Bluffs as I could through the years, and thoroughly enjoyed each and every one of them. Strolling the grounds on a warm July evening while partying with friends was always a highlight of any summer, and I was always impressed with how well behaved and enthusiastic the crowds were.
One of the things I found fascinating was listening to the music as it bounced off the majestic limestone bluffs that guard the Upper Iowa River. The main stage faced the river and the result was a "stereo" effect that filled the entire Bluffton valley. I can still hear it if I listen closely enough.
While most folks would probably concur that Charlie Daniels put on the best show, my favorite performer was John Anderson. Listening to big John sing "Just a Swingin'" or "Seminole Wind" in that special setting is something I'll carry with me the rest of my life. And it became a tradition for my wife, Sarah, and I to purchase a bucket of Mike Reicks' famous chicken to devour on the way home. Yummo.
Following the show, it was a real treat to see what kind of fireworks display Steve "Three Fingers" Sindelar had concocted for the occasion. No two were ever the same, but they always included a few "fire balls" that could be felt as well as seen. Spectacular and exhilarating are just two adjectives that come to mind.
When Light Up The Bluff began, a few Decorah people were upset because they thought it would interfere with and possibly hurt Nordic Fest since both events were held on the same weekend, but that didn't turn out to be the case. Quite the contrary, in fact.
Since Nordic Fest did not feature a Saturday beverage garden with live music until recently, Light Up The Bluff offered a great option for those folks who attended the Fest but were looking for something a bit more exciting to do on a Saturday night.
But, as we all know, everything comes to an end eventually, and it's hard to blame the Logsdon brothers for calling it a show. The amount of work and organizing involved were astronomical, and it's actually amazing they did it for 20 years.
So here's a big pat on the back to Randy and John, and a sincere thank you to all the supporters and stars who made the event so wonderful. It will be missed.
How cool is it that Decorah running back/linebacker Josey Jewell has been given a full-ride scholarship to play football for the University of Iowa?
There's been a great deal of speculation since football season began last fall about where Josey would end up. Most felt he would have to "walk on" at either Iowa or Iowa State, and some even thought he would join his brother, Robbie, at Luther.
But those folks sure didn't see what I saw during Decorah's undefeated run to the state Class 3A championship. I've watched a helluva lot of football during my 62 years as a gridiron fan, and Josey ranks right up there with any high school player I've ever seen.
When asked if I thought he was good enough to play for the Hawkeyes, my answer was always the same: "Absolutely. No doubt about it."
A hard-hitting kid with a nose for the football and the special ability to make the big play when it's needed most, Josey also has a good head on his shoulders and I'll predict he'll be a valued addition to the Iowa defense as a linebacker. I'll just feel sorry for the players he tackles.
I could go on and on about Josey's statistics and accomplishments, but there's no question he was the best 3A player on the best 3A team in the state. Period.
He joins former Decorah standout Brett Van Sloten (senior) on the Hawkeye squad.
Here's a thought for the city of Decorah: Instead of searching for a new Parks and Recreation Department director and then paying him or her a required, high-end salary, why not give veteran Recreation Superintendent Andy Nimrod a healthy raise and allow him to assume the duties?
A competent, intelligent individual, there's no question Nimrod would be up to the task ... and then some. Not only would the city have an experienced, knowledgeable rec superintendent/director, it could save a nice chunk of change in the process.
Seems like a natural to me.