“Make It Big and Make It Loud”

–submitted by Linda Baldwin-O’Hern; photo by John Bonsett-Veal


From left: Andrew Sewell, Club President Donna Hurd and Mark Cantrell

Andrew Sewell, Artistic Director of the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra, recalls this advice when he came to Madison 17 years ago.  Sewell discovered that the audience at the Concerts on the Square were huge, unique and a tough crowd.  More than 40,000 weekly concert goers are there to enjoy a picnic, their friends, the beautiful setting AND the music.   Music selections are carefully chosen to entertain this diverse and loyal crowd.  And week after week, audiences flock to the Capital grounds to take in the wonderful performances of the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra.

As Mark Cantrell, Executive Director of the WCO, points out, these concerts are free to the public but not free to present.  Each event costs $180,000 and Mark thanked the donors and patrons who support WCO for enabling these amazing community events.  Cantrell reminds us that we are lucky to live in a community where great art takes place.  Madison produces concerts and arts events at way above its size.  And Concerts on the Square and events at Overture and the many other venues around the city build community by bringing people together to enjoy, be uplifted and learn.

The Concert this week is a special one celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Capitol building…and of course, audiences will enjoy Tchaikovsky’s  rousing 1812 Overture…cannons and all.  Sewell recalls an early concert when he cued the cannons and ….nothing !!!  Trying it again, Sewell got his cannons and the show went on.

Cantrell and Sewell celebrated the Madison arts community, citing their own collaborations with other organizations and the arts community in general for doing a terrific job in bringing high quality performances to the community.

So this 4th of July celebration continues the centuries’ old tradition of bringing classical music to holidays and community celebrations.

As Gerald Bartell often said, “The Arts are for Everyone…Support and enjoy.”

“Brown Bag Tasting” on June 29

–article and photos by Mike Wilson


The Rotary Wine fellowship met at Steve and Meryl Mixtacki’s home for one of Steve’s iconic “Brown Bag Tastings”.  Bread, multiple cheeses, fruits, crackers and chocolate truffles were supplied to supplement the extraordinary wines. The organization was superb.  Mike Wilson and Steve Mixtacki engaged in their eternal discussion about glass position terminology on the tasting placemat.

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(Photo 1: Steve Mixtacki; Photo 2: Mary Janet & Karl Wellensiek; Photo 3: Juli and Keith Baumgartner)

The first three wines were “Wondering about Whites.”  These were from Italy, Israel and Spain – and the two most liked wines were the Italian Vernaccia and the Spanish Godello. Next we tried “Shades of Pink” explaining the gradation from tawny to pink to just plain “Red Rose” colors. The first was a Guigal Cotes du Rhone that the fellowship group had tasted at Steve’s on University tasting, and this won the honors with most liking this wine.  The pink sweet rose was a Beringer, an infamous White Zinfandel, that had been presented to Steve when he retired from WARF earlier in June, and the other was a Rosata from Petroni.  Petroni of Sonoma is a winery famous for being allowed to have the name Brunello on their label because of the extraordinary quality of wine made by them from the Sangiovese grape taken from Brunello cuttings. The Guigal was preferred by ~60% of tasters.

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(Photo 1: Jane & John Wegenke; Photo 2: Mike & Mandy McKay)

The next trio was “What is the Country” and included three fabulous red Italian wines, all DCOG (G meaning guaranteed quality – where else do you see such endorsement). One was a 20 year old Sangiovese (Brunello di Montalcino, Il Poggione), a 2000 Biscardi Amarone with the producer scion’s signature and date of signing on the bottle, and a fine 2011 Barolo.  Three of the finest wines that Italy offers, with the Brunello preferred by 47% despite the sediment.  These were all $60 wines.

Steve had prepared two interesting groupings next.  Three variations on a theme with blends of Rhone grapes: Grenache, Syrah and Mouvedre (all of the land of OZ GSM fame).  These were all Californian examples poured from light to dark red in color.  These were from Unti (71% Grenache and 29% Mouvedre), Cline Cashmere (50% Mouvedre with lesser amounts of Grenache and Syrah), and Summerwood Diosa 2013 (80% Syrah and lesser Mouvedre and Grenache). The darker Syrah was preferred, with the Mouvedre a close followup.

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(Photo 1: Mike & Patty Wilson & Guest; Photo 2: Bob & Jennifer Winding)

Lastly, Steve arranged for three Californian Rhone wines of the same varietals, but the “Even Greater Specificity” meaning each was a 100% single grape Rhone based wines.  Here the Adelaida Mouvedre was preferred, with the Grenache from Cline a close followup.  Incidentally the color followed the rule above; the lightest being Grenache, Mouvedre the next “reddest”, and the Syrah the dark red – perhaps a clue for future Brown Bag Blind tastings.

A great evening was had by all.  Thank you Meryl and Steve Mixtacki.

Michelle Ma Belle — New Fellowship Groups for 2017-18?

–submitted by Carol Toussaint; photos by Mike Engelberger


Michelle McGrath & Donna Hurd

There are many good stories about “roasting” the outgoing President, but only a few that can be printed in a family newsletter.  Over the years it has been an assignment given to the New Member Class and is always the program for the last day of the Rotary year.  Each past president who lives to tell the tale looks forward with relief that today is not the day they will be roasted.   The performance this year proved that the 2016-17 group was up to the challenge and that President Michelle McGrath was a cheerful and engaging target.

This was a truly participatory event.  Rotarians in the audience were given an opportunity to raise hands or stand in response to questions from co-chair Casey Oelkers or committee member Eric Salisbury.

How many of you have had your own name  ”creatively interpreted” from the podium or had a friend ask after lunch if Michelle had meant a comment to be about you “because she didn’t say your name right”?  This is what prompted the creation of what will be called the Pronuncilation Fellowship.

How many of you might join the Inspiring Moments Fellowship which was inspired by the many inspiring quotes Michelle included in comments from the podium.  It was noted that many came from a country song by Rascall Flatts or Luke Bryan whom we later met in The Dating Game portion of the program.

HO7A4387How many of you stood up because you were wearing cowboy boots?  The story is that Michelle has 9 pair of cowboy boots and in her honor the SK Fellowship has been organized.  Eric (what a great hat!) Salisbury gave the full name of Fellowship group but as was mentioned earlier, this is a family newsletter so you’ll have to ask him privately for that information.

There was even a show of hands by anyone single (as in not currently married) which prompted the recommendation of a Dating Fellowship.   The audience was then treated to an episode from The Dating Game in which bachelors were #1: J.J. Watt, #2: Luke Bryan, and #3: (guy they found in the parking lot). Michelle’s choice was #3 who is believed to be Paul Bova, Michelle’s real live boyfriend, as he was thanked for joining the group on stage.

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Using the latest technology, members were invited to vote by telephone keypad which reportedly showed a tie-vote which means that we have just voted in a new Fellowship – The Michelle McGrath Fan Fellowship!   It was declared that the Fellowship would meet weekly next to the Breakfast Table.

Michelle received gifts from the 2016-17 New Members, and they received the enthusiastic appreciation of the entire audience for presenting a clever and fitting tribute to our leader, Michelle McGrath.


LaBelle Terimaat, Sarah Bova, Jake Bova, Fletcher McGrath, Michelle McGrath, Grace McGrath, Paul Bova & Jim Terimaat

Our thanks to this year’s Roast Committee for doing such a fabulous job and to Carol Toussaint for preparing this review article.

Culinary Arts at Big Sky

–submitted by Moses Altsech; photos by Juli Baumgartner & Jason Beren

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Think back at whatever it is you microwaved for dinner Monday night, and wish you’d had the good sense to join the Culinary Arts Fellowship group at Big Sky, a terrific little restaurant in downtown Stoughton.

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(Photo 1: from left: Sharon Hoffmann, Chuck Casey, Martha Casey & Paul Hoffmann; Photo 2: from left: Nancy & Ed Young & Keith & Juli Baumgartner)

When the lamb chops were served, everyone wished they’d ordered those–but the same happened with the swordfish, the osso bucco, and the mushroom strudel; one thing was better than the next, and the creme brulee that topped it off was great too.  So good was the food that Jason Beren forgot to take pictures, and Keith Baumgartner begged his wife to take photos in his place.  There were no food fights (the food was too good to throw at anyone), but there were plenty of lively conversations among the great looking, sophisticated, modest Rotarians who attended this fun event.

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(Photo 1: Nick Topitzes; Photo 2: Erin Luken, Jason Beren, Casey & Eric Oelkers; Photo 3: Hannah & Eli Van Camp)

There’s nothing open in Stoughton on Monday evenings–not even the Big Sky, but it opened especially for us: The chef (who worked for years with the chef to the late King Hussein of Jordan) told us we’d be welcome back anytime, and although most of us had never been there before, we all said we would definitely return with more friends in tow.

Are you sorry you didn’t come?  Good; make sure you sign up next time!  Thanks to Nick and Judy Topitzes for bringing us to Big Sky and to Paul Hoffmann, our outgoing fellowship group chair!

2017 Scholar Mentor Picnic

–submitted by Mary Borland; photos by Dean Nelson & Karl Wellensiek

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The annual Rotary Scholar Mentor picnic was held on Sunday, June 25, from 3 – 6 p.m. at the home of Nancy and Ed Young in Monona.  Thank you, Nancy and Ed!

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Despite fall like weather, all enjoyed camaraderie and wonderful appetizers, salads, brats, hamburgers and desserts.

DSC_0109After we enjoyed dinner, many participated in a first time workshop on finances and financial literacy.  Our club member, Richard Entenmann presented and answered questions.  Richard works for Asset Builders, a nonprofit that conducts training and camps on this important subject.

Visit our Club’s Facebook page for more photos: search “Rotary Club of Madison.”  Or, if you are a member of our club’s Scholar Mentor Committee: search “Madison Rotary Mentor-Scholar Group.”



Recent Refugee Resettlement in Madison

–submitted by Stan Inhorn; photo by Mike Engelberger

Dawn Berney 6 12 2017

Club President Michelle McGrath with guest speaker and fellow Rotarian Dawn Berney

In 2015, Dawn Berney became executive director of the Madison chapter of Jewish Social Services and was immediately faced with the problem of settling Middle Eastern and African refugees in the community.  Although Jewish Social Services (JSS) has a long history of assisting refugees from the Holocaust, from Cuba and from the Soviet Union, the current wave of people fleeing conflicts in Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq and the Peoples Republic of the Congo raised unique challenges. With guidance from the national organization, the Madison chapter reached out to other agencies and non-profits to plan for cooperation in settling families in Dane County.

In 2016, JSS and Lutheran Social Services submitted applications to the State Department for assistance in carrying out this mission. The State Department gave permission to each organization to settle 50 persons. To place the problem in its proper perspective, consider that currently there are 20 million refugees in the world and 30 million in displaced-persons camps. Each individual who wants to come to the U.S. has to undergo background checks that proceed through 21 steps carried out by several federal agencies. The State Department decides who will be admitted. The local agency must then be prepared to provide a furnished apartment, financial support, child care, English as a second language, clothing, job preparation and general acculturation.

Commitment to providing these services places a great burden on the local providers. Volunteers are needed to help with moving, education, shopping, securing jobs, training in money handling and banking, health care and a whole host of other issues involving filling out forms for getting resident status. Fortunately, Madison has a long history of collaboration. Many Arabic speakers have stepped forward, as have lawyers, students, baby sitters, school district employees, people serving as guides and a host of other volunteers. In less than one year, 24 people have been settled in Madison. This is a remarkable achievement for the JSS–an organization with a staff of only nine employees.

Rotary International Foundation Celebration Event Held June 8


Our club had a very successful campaign for the Rotary International Foundation during the month of May, and we thank all members who contributed.  Including the amount raised in May, in addition to other gifts members made during the year through the dues billing check-off item, we have exceeded the needed amount of $50,400 required by our district to be eligible to apply for matching grants.  We have raised over $60,000!

We held an event on June 8 at the HotelRED to celebrate meeting this goal, and fifty Rotarians were in attendance. Jason Ilstrup generously donated the space and food for the reception at the beautiful HotelRED.  Thank you, Jason!

Linda Baldwin’s spirited introduction at the event set the lively tone for the evening’s program.  She reminded us of Rotary’s tradition of raising money, providing global grants, volunteering and how those present contributed to this tradition.  Linda also specifically focused on our club’s international project in Ghana to help girls stay in school, and this is a first-hand example of a project that is funded by gifts to the Rotary International Foundation.  And, as Mark Moody mentioned during the event, the value of those contributions will be further matched by Rotary International and our Rotary district.

Thanks to all members who made a gift during the 2016-17 Rotary year to help us achieve our funding goal.  Our club is now able to continue to apply for matching grants from our Rotary district and the Rotary International Foundation to continue our club’s project in Ghana.

In July, we will be recognizing members for their contributions to the Rotary International Foundation and will be providing an additional update on our club’s project in Ghana.