Local merchants and other businesses are gearing up for a busy weekend.

The Great Spring Getaway is Friday and Saturday in Decorah. Planning for the event began last fall.

On Friday, participating stores will be open late and guests can expect great deals, free samples, beverage tastings, chair massages and dining specials around town, according to Brenda Balk, Winneshiek County Convention & Visitors Bureau director.

Saturday will kick off with a 5K run/walk followed by a fashion show brunch, a performance at Luther College, open houses and more in-store deals.

"The Winneshiek County Convention & Visitors Bureau organized this event for visitors outside the area to travel in for a day trip or an entire weekend. And locals are certainly welcomed to participate as well," she said.

"Sometimes people need a reason to treat themselves to a getaway. The Great Spring Getaway is just the ticket; it's free, fun and flexible."

The weekend is designed to be hassle-free. Participants can pick and chose which activities to participate in. All weekend details, program guide and map are located at www.visitdecorah.com or available at the Chamber and Visitors Center at 507 W. Water St.

Although the event is free, all are still encouraged to register online so coordinators can track where visitors are coming from and how they heard about the event.

"I've already got 175 guests signed up online that are coming from all over Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin ... even, Las Vegas," Balk reported.

All registrants are entered in a drawing for $100 Chamber Dollars. The drawing will take place live on KVIK's morning show Friday, April 1.

Contact Brenda Balk at 563-382-2023 or brenda@visitdecorah.com for more information on the Great Spring Getaway.

Some activities

A sampling of some of the activities being held in conjunction with Decorah Spring Getaway follows:


• Women Faith & Finance, educational workshop, Hotel Winneshiek from 9-3:30 p.m.

• Phenom, the accessory and fashion showcase, Hotel Winneshiek, 4-7 p.m.

• A live cooking demonstration, featuring ways to bake using old candle jars, is at Milkhouse Candle Creamery 4 to 7 p.m.

• St. Benedict's Lenten fish fry, tickets can be purchased at the door or in advance at the parish office, 403 E. Rural Ave.


• Winneshiek Medical Center's 5K run/walk, begins at WMC at 8 a.m. Call 563-387-3007 to register. ($20 registration fee)

• Fashion Show Brunch, featuring local merchants, is happening at Rubaiyat at 9 a.m. Tickets are $12 and available at the Chamber

• The Church Basement Ladies performance at Luther College at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Call Luther's box office at 563-387-2000 for tickets.