‘Big Trip’ around the States

Photos submitted. Clockwise from left, Maggie, Jim, Kim and Mary Kate McNulty stand in front of Lake Tahoe during their 10-week road trip around the United States.

The family of four from Stoughton stood near Bourbon Street in New Orleans, watching a man in a window dance in his underwear.

“When I see a man dancing in his underwear, it’s time to go back to the hotel,” Jim McNulty recalled his 10-year-old daughter Mary Kate said at the time.

One of many memories, that moment was part of day 55 of the McNulty family’s 10-week road-trip around the United States on a vacation they dubbed “The Big Trip.”

The family, which includes Jim and Kim and their daughters, Mary Kate and 13-year-old Maggie, had been planning the trip for more than six years. Kim and Jim acknowledged how lucky they were to have employers flexible enough to let them take that much time off of work. 

“The luckiness that we have that we were able to pull it off … is pretty special,” Jim told the Hub. “A lot of people just aren’t in that spot.”


Stoughton artist happy to be home, making art again

Photo by Bill Livick. Stoughton artist Anne Olson moved back to her hometown last year and has opened her home as studio space with a “micro-gallery.”

Stoughton native Anne Olson moved back home a year ago after attending art school in San Francisco, surviving a near fatal car accident, and then recovering from a series of painful surgeries.

Olson, a printmaker and conceptual artist, now plans to open the home she purchased last year on Taylor Lane as a micro-gallery and studio for fellow artists to create art and share their work. The gallery will open to the public by appointment.

Olson graduated from Stoughton High School in 2000 and, after studying for a year at UW-Madison, attended Academy of Art University in San Francisco for four years.

Then on Aug. 6, 2011, she was involved in a serious accident as a passenger in the backseat of a car in Sonoma, Calif. The crash left Olson with a shattered pelvis, a broken tailbone and three crushed vertebrae.


Getting their summer read on

While summer technically has a few weeks left, school is back in session next week making it quickly becoming a memory for area youths. 

But for dozens of children and teens who participated in the Stoughton Public Library’s annual summer reading program, it looks to have been some time well spent. 

And quite a bit of time spent reading. Children’s librarian Amanda Bosky said participants in the program, which wrapped up Aug. 8, read for 12,987 hours over the course of the 10-week program. She said in a side competition for schools with the highest percentage of students completing the program, St. Ann’s School came out on top, with more than a 45 percent completion rate. She said the school will receive the library’s “traveling trophy” for their accomplishment when the school year starts next month. 


Fundraiser keeps park momentum going

Photo submitted. Duane Broughton, Sonny Swangstu, Dewey Lloyd, Pat Nowlin, Archie Christensen and Bud Erickson keep busy shucking some 300 ears of corn donated by Eugster’s Farm Market for the Aug. 8 Stoughton Area Veterans Memorial Park fundraiser at the VFW.

Unless you’re a big-name politician, raising $750,000 isn’t easy these days, even for a wholesome effort like honoring a community’s veterans. 

But for those working to raise money for the planned Stoughton Area Veterans Memorial Park, it’s all about the big picture, and they’re taking it piece by piece to make the dreams of many a reality.

While fundraising began in earnest this March to pay the expected cost of the memorial, another small but significant step was taken Aug. 8. A fundraiser at VFW Post 328, including a silent auction, T-shirt sales and a meal, helped take in more than $7,000 for the project, bringing the total amount raised to more than $100,000. 


Coffee Break Festival photos 2015

Despite the hot weather that made a hot cup of coffee not sound like the most refreshing beverage, plenty of people turned out Saturday for Stoughton’s annual Coffee Break Festival. Though many passed the time in the shaded tents, Stoughton Chamber of Commerce director of visitor services Laura Trotter said more than 500 people bought the tasting or commemorative mugs to try out coffee from six different roasters throughout the morning and early afternoon. Cheeser’s was crowned champion with its Door County Coffee roast. The festival also had a record number of car show entries, with 126 registered. 


Life takes a different path since the 2005 Stoughton tornado

Photo submitted by Joe Liggett. The Stoughton Tornado left a swath of destruction a mile wide and 10 to 20 miles long on Aug. 18, 2005.

The houses have been rebuilt, the brush and fallen trees have been cleared, the lawns are free of house debris and scattered lost belongings. 

A decade later, a “new normal” has been achieved by residents whose neighborhoods were ravaged by a tornado on the evening of Aug. 18, 2005.

The lasting effects of the devastating storm on those in the clumps of housing subdivisions and farms sprinkled north of Stoughton aren’t obvious to passers-by.

Though seemingly minor and occasional, they bring back mental images of ominous funnel clouds for some residents every time a fierce wind blows through or a severe weather warning is issued for the area. 

Young, skinny trees near older, fatter ones recall the century-old forestry that used to cover the neighborhoods and shade lawns. 


Big venue in a small town

About five years ago, Stoughton Opera House director Bill Brehm and events coordinator Christina Dollhausen turned up the heat and began booking shows as if the venue were one of the best in the Midwest.

Now, 14 years after the Opera House’s centennial celebration and grand re-opening, there is little doubt that it is a top concert hall in the region.

With its spectacular beauty, intimacy and great acoustics, the Opera House has become a favorite destination for audiences and performers alike. That explains why so many of the upcoming season’s shows are repeat performances.

“If we get them here once, they want to come back,” Dollhausen confidently said.


Utica Fest 2015 photos

Trucks and trailers from all around came to Utica last weekend for the annual Utica Fest. The festival, which also included a large craft sale, food options and home talent baseball, features hours of trucks and tractors showing off their pulls on the track. The festival began Friday night with horse pulls and continued through Sunday.


Tastes to crave

One fest, three roasts. That’s what Coffee Break Festival organizers are promising for the 18th annual event at Mandt Park on Saturday, Aug. 15. 

Attendees can expect to indulge in cups of aromatic coffee as always, but now they can also grab a cob of sweet corn from the Stoughton Rotary Club’s new corn roaster. And back for the second year will be a savory pig roast courtesy of Joe Conant.

The festival kicks off at 9 a.m. with the Java Jog run/walk, Cup O’ Joe car show and arts and crafts fair. Other activities to check out before the event winds down at 3 p.m. include the coffee bean spitting contest through Stoughton Kiwanis Club starting at noon, DJ music and 50/50 raffle. 


Christmas in July 2015 photos

The One Room School Christmas in July program was held on Aug. 1 at the Cooksville Community Center. Performed by residents in Cooksville and the surrounding area, the show featured a play about Cooksville’s 175th anniversary, Disney songs and the chime choir from the Cooksville Lutheran Church.


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