Spencer has been blessed through the years with an embarrassment of riches in the cultural arena.
We've got a great community theatre, widely respected throughout the state and the region.
There's Arts on Grand, with its wide array of exhibitions and classes.
Glass artisans at Bogenrief Studios and the Curiel School for the Visual Arts.
The Parker Historical Society opens its doors to the public today at its new Heritage Center on Grand Avenue, allowing it to show off its amazing collection in a way its leadership could never have imagined before.
A vibrant municipal band, the Mainstreet Market with its live music showcase, the touring acts appearing at the Clay County Regional Event Center - the list goes on and on.
SPACE has brought these groups and more together to nurture the creative spirit in our community.
And yet, there's room for more.
I'm a music lover. Music and books feed my soul.
Over the years I've attended countless concerts, covering a dizzying array of genres. Good music is good music, be it classical, country, rock or alt-indie. I've stood out as the oldest in a crowd of hipsters watching a favorite folk rock artist in a downtown Des Moines venue with my son, and still remember with a smile standing with a crowd of 200,000 in the Mall in Washington, D.C., watching the Beach Boys sing of endless California summers.
A month ago, it was the kickoff concert of the latest tour by the aging rock wonders Aerosmith.
The big acts are exciting, but I've got to say that I love nothing better than enjoying the efforts of talented people, sitting outside, with a group, small or large, of folks who also love music.
Summertime music festivals are big. Last weekend Des Moines hosted the 80/35 Festival, which has grown into a behemoth celebration of music and downtown hipness in the city's center. Sioux City's Saturday in the Park featured Wilco and the Chris Robinson Brotherhood. Reporter Gabe Licht just returned from Minneapolis's Basilica Block Party, with Train and Mat Kearny, among others.
Over the years, I've often thought that Spencer needs its own summertime music celebration.
We don't need a big name act. After all, we've got plenty of artists with local ties, who have more than enough talent to show off. There's Amber Norgaard, Shawn Mayer, Chad Elliott, to name a few.
We've got the venues - the Clay County Fairgrounds is one interesting option, while West Leach Park could also hold a crowd, though the bandshell and shade trees in East Leach Park are pretty beguiling. Finish the shows early enough to be a good neighbor to the area residents, and keep the event family-friendly.
Add some craft artisans, and good food, and you've got all the ingredients you need for a celebration of summer fun.
We've got some great young leaders in the community, ready to take the reins of a project like this - something they can put their imprint on. We've got community leaders who are interested in staying vital and engaged, we've got a population open to the arts.
I'd say we've got the tools, we just need the shared passion to make it happen.
As the Beach Boys sang, "wouldn't it be nice?"
It was with deep sadness that I heard of the passing of Stan Schoelerman. Stan's passion for this community - indeed his passion for life - will be so missed.
Stan was honored back in 1971 as the fifth Citizen of the Year, and it was a well-deserved honor.
I worked with Stan on many community activities through the years, and his unbridled optimism and enthusiasm made every load seem light, every goal within reach.
Golly, I'm going to miss his booming voice and laugh!
Spencer - we've lost one of the great ones!