Most days, I take a look at our website’s analytics to see what the most-read story of the day has been.

I was pleased one day in late June to see that the story garnering the most online readership was Jim Swenson’s story on three local families named TH Farm Families of the Year.

Later, we collated our top stories for all of June, and the farm families again were among the top-read stories of the month.

That tells you a little bit about TH readership and the people of the tri-state area. We appreciate farmers. Even among those of us who have always lived in the city, most of us are just a generation or two removed from the farm.

Hosting an event to honor farmers is something that has long been on our radar. When those discussions came to fruition this year, it didn’t take long for sponsors to jump on board. Together with Theisen’s Home-Farm-Auto, Northeast Iowa Community College, Spahn & Rose and Gavilon, we recently hosted the inaugural TH Farm Families of the Year event at the Dubuque County Fairgrounds.

Well over 200 people turned out to celebrate the winners and farmers in general.

Winners were: Grain farmers Deb and Rob Lahey of Farley; Berning Acres dairy farm in rural East Dubuque, Ill., owned by Matt and Natalie Berning; and Miller Cattle Farms, of rural Cascade, Iowa, run by brothers Chris, Matt and Nick, in the livestock category.

One of the attendees, a farmer who had been nominated in one of the categories, told a TH employee: “It’s just means a lot to have our hard work recognized.”

I’m proud of my Midwest farm roots, and I admire the work ethic of our farmers. I’m glad this TH event and the story about our honorees resonated with so many people.

Hall of Famer in our midstThis week marks a special occasion in the world of local sports, with six players and one contributor being inducted in the Dubuque County Baseball Hall of Fame.

I was thrilled to hear that the contributor honoree is none other than TH Sports Editor Jim Leitner.

“Lites,” as he’s known around here, has been writing for the TH since his days as a Loras College student in the late 1980s. He hit the 30-year mark for service with the TH last fall and has been our sports editor since 1998.

The honor is well deserved. Few people have the deep breadth of knowledge about prep baseball in the tri-state area that Lites has. A prolific writer, Lites is out covering games all week long in the summer, and still helps lay out pages, write headlines and everything else local sports coverage entails.

(Lites knows a thing or two about hockey, too.)

The Hall of Fame dinner and program will be Friday, July 12, at Happy’s Place in Key West.

We congratulate Jim Leitner on this impressive honor.

There’s nothing like local restaurantsThanks for the memories on local eats — I heard from many readers after last week’s column about some of my favorite local restaurants from back in the day.

I hope you didn’t miss Erik Hogstrom’s Sunday article with so many more memories.

Linda Digman, of East Dubuque, sent me some old menus from a few of her favorites — The Circle in East Dubuque, which boasted a “large sizzling T-bone” for $3.25 and jumbo shrimp cocktail for 60 cents.

Fay McCauley remembers going to Hills restaurant on Central Avenue, where Marco’s is now, more than 80 years ago.

I even heard from the former owner of the Carriage House, Gloria Markus, who appreciated my shout-out for the Nest Egg breakfast concoction. Markus said she enjoyed every minute of owning and operating the restaurant. Another reader said I was remiss in not mentioning the Carriage House cinnamon rolls, another local favorite.

Thanks to all for playing along — and making me hungry!

Email Gilligan at

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