Small Town Magic.

















Viroqua. I love you.

Our little town of 4,500 is unlike any other small town – in Wisconsin if not the world. Our quiet agricultural community holds a mix of people. There is the old Viroqua – the real, honest, rural folks you'd expect to find in any sleepy country town. But then there are the newcomers. The kind of people you're more likely to find in artistic corners of hip cities rather than out here in the sticks.

The "new" Viroqua community (which we joined five years ago) has come here for just that – community. A safe, quiet place to raise our families while not feeling like outsiders. I live in a small town, and yet I blend. I'm normal here. After being rural for most of my adult life I find this amazing.

Viroqua has an established Waldorf grade school, a student-run Waldorf high school, a charter high school, a new Montessori pre-school, and a vibrant homeschooling community. I don't know many cities (much less small towns) with so many options within just a few city blocks. Add to that the greatest concentration of organic family farms in the country, and we've got a good thing going here. Viroqua also boasts a vibrant natural foods coop and several fantastic local shops peppering our Main street.

Viroqua is brimming with creative free spirits from musicians and viusal artists to puppeteers, a circus performer or two, and those focused on spoken word. Last year some of these creative minds dreamt of and created Viroqua's first Harvest Moon Celebration. Looking around before the parade began last year I was amazed and the talent this little town brought forth. The quality of the giant puppets, the creativity of the story, the presentation.

This year it was even better. The giant puppets wove down Main Street spinning a story that connects us all – both Viroqua's locals and her many newcomers. This year's story was that of the grandmother. The story from birth to death, of creation and dreams, and hope.  And of course that the event featured quilting and knitting elevated the whole day for me!



As for the expectation of candy being thrown to observers, our town opted for local organic squash (rolled, not thrown) and flower seeds. Awesome. As I looked over the faces in the park during the post-parade performance, I saw the faces that make this place home. This is my community. This is my home. This is our story.







Thank you, Viroqua, for being this place. For being the home where I fit in in every way, and where I couldn't be happier to raise my kids and someday grow old. Thanks for bring art and magic to our sleepy little town.

34 thoughts on “Small Town Magic.

  1. Cassandra says:

    I love it!!

    And you know, growing up a city kid in Chicagoland…this is exactly what I thought rural life was like. Okay, so I did get all my ideas about country living from watching vignettes of farm life on Sesame Street. But, I really believed it! And who knows, maybe upstate NY was actually like that in the early 70’s? All artsy, self-sufficient, and earthy.

    Imagine my surprise when we moved to a rural town just outside of Madison…it wasn’t quite that cool. You are making me want to head a little more westward. 🙂

  2. Kasey Love says:

    Everything I dislike about my home “town” is present in Viroqua. From the welcoming sense of community, to the abundance of organic farmers, to the overall joy of living. You really have it all up there! There is so much to to that saying… There’s beauty in the smallness.

  3. marni says:

    I am not going to lie: I am jealous. We live in the inner city. We are surrounded by people of different skin colors and languages. We have steel bars on all first and second floor windows. We don’t have a yard.
    It is mind and heart expanding. It is real.
    It is not where we want to be forever.

  4. Casey says:

    It was one of the most awesome events I’ve been a part of. I was a mere tourist, but I felt so at home. Like minds, like hearts.

  5. Emily says:

    Viroqua is so cool. I feel like a visit would not do it justice, it seems like a place I should live. Although I love a lot of things about Wisconsin Rapids many times I feel like I don’t fit in here, but here we are. Got to make the best of where you are.

  6. amy arnold says:

    Rachel, What a beautiful tribute to what was created here on Saturday! I totally felt it again as we rounded the corner onto mainstreet. Extreme gratitude for a community of people who willingly took up what was handed them and made it so much more. I love this town. I love the people who live here. I love the struggle and the joys of making the parade happen.
    No need for anyone to feel jealous or sad about where they are. We can create this anywhere. Or come and join us……

  7. Rachel Wolf says:

    We were very conscious in choosing this place as our home. While we didnt live anywhere requiring bars on our windows before, we did live where we felt like outsiders. And we decided to come here for just what you see in this post. I hope you find the magic in the space you are and also the space to dream for where youll land next. (hug)

  8. verdemama says:

    I live about 45 miles from Viroqua (just since this summer) and am starting to explore the area more and more. I love that they shared out org squash and flower seeds! These photos make me smile.

  9. KC says:

    What a fantastic parade! I’m really in love with that pregnant mama float. There is a really cute town here in arizona that sounds like Viroqua. It has that small town charm with added artist/natural living crowd. Do you know what Viroqua means? Where does the name come from?

  10. Loma says:

    I just want to add, since you mention all the “alternative” educational options, that there’s a K-12 public school too, with very caring teachers. I’m thankful for the ease of communication I experience with my kids’ teachers and the other staff there, and the easy access to information about grades, assignments, etc. Not everyone can do the alternative route, so I’m grateful for this provision.

  11. vanessa says:

    Oh my goodness, oh my goodness we were so close to packing up the car and heading west on Friday night, alas…someday. All of these pics whisper sweetness in my heart, the balls of yarn, the needles and sewing machines…that my older daughter has been obsessed with the wizard of oz for the past year, perfect, what an amazing community of makers you are surrounded by and apart of.

  12. susan says:

    It sounds (and looks) wonderful! The town we moved to this summer is bigger than Viroqua, but has a very vibrant community that we’re experiencing (and thoroughly enjoying) for the first time. Part of it was choosing to live in an old part of town where the community is most closely knit. But most of it was pure luck of the draw that we ended up here with my husband’s job. I love it. And I love to hear about your beautiful little town. It speaks to my soul.

  13. Rachel Wolf says:

    Viroqua is a made-up name from the first residents of the town. There is a mythology around the town and what it means but it escapes me today. I do know that its the only one in the world!
    ~ Rachel

  14. Kathy says:

    This may sound strange, but: is there room in Viroqua for folks who choose to live childfree? I do like hearing that the area’s children have such a supportive web of parents, teachers, and others seeking and providing for their well-being, but given the host of schooling options and the (fascinating, artful) pregnant woman sculpture in the parade, I can’t help but wonder if Viroqua doesn’t also have room in its culture for those of us who opt not to be parents.

  15. Rachel Wolf says:

    Hi Kathy,
    I think there is room in every community for people who choose to have or not have children – ours included. As a natural parenting blog (and as a homeschooling mother) I tend to focus often on the child-centered aspects of our community because its where I am at.

    As an aside, the pregnant woman in the parade was part of the story of the birth of humanity – the earth before people, the emergence (through birth) of humans, and their eventual loss of immortality as well as the importance of dreams to keep us dancing in hope. It wasnt a mama-parade by any means.

    Best, Rachel

  16. Allegra says:

    Kathy, you’ve hit a point here. I am one of those childless people. To be honest, (the alternative community of) Viroqua is VERY family oriented. That is not a bad thing per se, but it IS a reality for people who are childless to realize if they are choosing whether or not to live here. Many people move here for the specific purpose of putting their kids in the Waldorf school… That being said, there are ways of getting involved here w/o kids, but it’s not like being in a city, where there are lots of venues for childless adults. (I’ve even seen little kids in bars here at music venues.) If you’re looking to have a full social life here, you need to accept that kids are almost always part of the picture. It can be challenging, but it is a lovely place to live, nonetheless, and we do have an incredible community radio station!! Thanks for asking the question, Kathy!

  17. Rachel Wolf says:

    Thank you for sharing your perspective Allegra. I truly appreciate it. Pete and I came here not for the school but for the community. I guess to me kids are a part of society. Even before children I was unable to separate them from the rest of us. So perhaps her question was abstract for me. But your vantage point is certainly different from mine and Im glad you chimed in. Peace, Rachel

  18. jen says:

    Your pics are great!
    We enjoyed the “process” of working on the puppets weekly…seeing them grow and grow.
    The organizers had an amazing vision for sure.

    ps-your quilt squares were awesome. The bird quilt was my favorite I think, though so hard to choose, eh?

  19. Lauren says:

    so, we’re moving there in a year or two. Promise, haha! Nothing much to anchor us here, and Viroqua sounds like my kinda town. <3

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