William Smith
William Smith

Over 100 years ago, Reverend Paul Koren began his campaign to gain support and raise funds to build a hospital in Decorah.

William Smith and his sister, Matilda, shared his vision, and together, decided to financially support the project. Their philanthropic wishes were realized when Rev. Koren approached William Smith seeking a donation to build a local hospital. Although Matilda died just months before the actual donation was given, William Smith carried out the siblings' pre-determined plan. He committed the first $10,000 to the Decorah Hospital project and challenged the Commercial Club to raise $15,000 more.

Thus began the story of our hospital in Decorah.

To celebrate the Centennial year of our hospital and to honor the first benefactors of local health care in a memorable way, Winneshiek Medical Center is sponsoring a "William Smith beard look-alike" contest and a "Matilda muffin" contest at the 2014 Winneshiek County Fair.

Beard contest

Area men may need to get growing to compete in the July event.

The criteria are based on how the closely the contestants can come to looking like Mr. Smith.

Registration is free and the grand prize of $100 (for our 100 years) will be awarded on the grandstand Tuesday, July 8 at 6 p.m.

The winner will be chosen by the audience.

"Based on the portrait of William Smith, his beard was really something and we thought this would be fun way for WMC to connect with people in our communities by showcasing our chief donor!" said Gretchen Dahlen, chief administrative officer, Winneshiek Medical Center.

Competitors can register online at winmedical.org/centennial or at the event Tuesday, July 8, from 5 - 6 p.m.

Muffin contest

In honor of Matilda, the medical center is holding a "Matilda muffin" contest, which will challenge participants to bake a muffin and present their creation while wearing time-period attire.

Both the muffin and the presentation will be taken into account to determine the winner. The winner will be awarded $100 (for our 100 years). Registration details for this contest will be released in the coming months.

For more information on these events, or to learn more about the upcoming Centennial events, visit winmedical.org/centennial or call the WMC community relations department at 563-382-2911.