Thousands of people to boost Decorah-area economy this weekend - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Thousands of people to boost Decorah-area economy this weekend

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DECORAH (KWWL) -

Tens of thousands of people are flocking to Decorah this weekend for its 47th annual Nordic Fest.

Decorah has always attracted visitors, city leaders say, but the community's popularity exploded after the bald eagle Web cam put it on the world wide map.

It's more than birds, however, that bring tourists to town.

Friday afternoon, Decorah's Water Street was bursting with Scandinavian culture and food, as the city celebrated its heritage and invited one and all to join in.

Del Relopez and his family came down from Minnesota and are doing Nordic Fest for the first time.

"We are just doing a road trip just to do something fun, take grandma on a trip and, you know, just be as a family before school starts again," Relopez said, with his wife, twin daughters and their grandmother standing beside him.

It's visitors like the Relopez family Decorah Area Chamber of Commerce executive director Nikki Brevig sees visiting all throughout the summer.

"The eagles have kind of landed us on the map, and then we have Seed Savers and the Vesterheim and we have the four museums in the county, and so there's definitely just a lot of culture and activity and events that you can take part in," Brevig said.

Decorah's recently-completed 11-mile Trout Run Trail is attracting outdoor enthusiasts from near and far.

Visitors and locals alike find a hot place for cold treats at the Whippy Dip.

Of course, one can't talk about what draws people to Decorah without a draw of Toppling Goliath brew. This Decorah-based craft beer brewery opened four years ago and has exploded in popularity and distribution since then.

"We have a winery, we have the brewery, we have different things that people are willing to try and we have some amazing chefs in town, too," Brevig said. "There's restaurant choices, and so it all just kind of adds to how wonderful the community is."

Nordic Fest's economic impact stretches far beyond city limits. Visitors from out-of-state and out-of-country fill up hotels and campgrounds in surrounding communities as well. The Relopez family, for example, said they're staying in Harmony, Minn., just across the state border.

Their trip to the Decorah area may be something they repeat in the future.

In addition to celebrating the area's Scandinavian heritage, Nordic Fest also gives back to the community. 90 percent of Nordic Fest food vendors' profits go to local non-profit organizations, Brevig said.

Nordic Fest runs through Saturday night. A schedule of events is HERE.

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