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Lutefisk Supper Brings People Together

Lutefisk - cod that’s been preserved in lye - is a Scandinavian delicacy. It’s a polarizing dish; some people grow up loving it, while others despise it. But that doesn’t stop people from packing into the basement of the Christ Lutheran Church in DeForest every year. For months, volunteers plan the dinner and cook everything from scratch, including 1900 pounds of lutefisk. WPR’s Maureen McCollum went to see what brings people back year after year.

Photo: Maureen McCollum

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Singing and Dancing Through La Crosse with Peaches

In a city that lacks celebrities and diversity, someone like Peaches stands out. She’s best known for singing and dancing all over La Crosse in incredibly bright outfits. WPR’s Maureen McCollum spent a morning walking around with Peaches, and although she’s surrounded in mystique and rumors, she shakes off the negativity by just being herself. 

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Naturists in Wisconsin

In southeast Wisconsin, there’s a secluded, heavily wooded private area where people like to get away, relax with friends, and share food and drinks. It’s like any other campground, except for one thing: almost everyone is naked. WPR’s Maureen McCollum visited the naturist, clothing-optional resort. The names have been changed to protect the naked.

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Kong Mong Yang hammers out a hot piece of metal to elongate the knife Kong Mong Yang shows off a knife and tool he made in the blacksmith shop. All the parts are made from recycled materials, except for the copper handle cover. The forge's billow makes the fire flare up. Classic Hmong knife blades. According to Tong Khai Vang, knives with a nice, sharp blade belly and a perfectly straight back are ideal Kong Mong Yang hammers out a hot piece of metal to elongate the knife. Many of the tools that Kong Mong Yang uses in the blacksmith shop were made by his mentor and blacksmith master, Tong Khai Vang. Kong Mong Yang's younger brother tries blacksmithing for his first time. He places the piece of metal into the forge's fire so he can pound out and elongate it, creating a blade.

Scenes from the La Crosse Area Hmong Mutual Assistance Association blacksmith shop.

Photos by Maureen McCollum

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Hmong Blacksmith Shop:

The Hmong community has historically been self-sufficient. In the back of the La Crosse Area Hmong Mutual Assistance Association is a blacksmith shop where people melt their own metal and pound out hot, glowing orange strips of metal into knives. WPR’s Maureen McCollum recently visited the shop where she met apprentice Kong Mong Yang and master blacksmith Tong Khai Vang. Kong translates for Tong Khai.

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Scenes from Rosie’s Cafe in La Crosse where Rosie Perez and her daughter, Teresa Kerns, work and cook together daily.

Photos by Maureen McCollum

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Breakfast at Rosie’s:

Every morning at 5:30, Rosie Perez and her daughter, Teresa Kerns, open up the quaint and cozy Rosie’s Café in La Crosse. They’ve been working together for almost 30 years. Rosie’s usually in the back making soup, pies, cinnamon rolls from scratch, while Teresa switches between serving tables and cooking on the grill. In honor of Mother’s Day this weekend, WPR’s Maureen McCollum spent a morning with them and found that their secret to success is working together as a dependable team.

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Broomball:

Broomball is just like ice hockey, except players wear shoes and use a ball instead of a puck. The game originated in Canada in the early 20th century and eventually made its way to La Crosse where bar-sponsored teams play weekly during the winter. WPR’s Maureen McCollum took to the ice in a rink along the Mississippi River.  

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Kayaking:

What’s the best way to see Wisconsin on a perfect fall day? In a kayak. Today, Maureen McCollum takes us to the backwaters of the Mississippi River near LaCrosse, to meet some dedicated paddlers.

Maureen McCollum is a Wisconsin Public Radio reporter based in LaCrosse.

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