ia: The best of Iowa arts and culture
 ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌
Produced in partnership with the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs
Iowa pig farmers learn how to better connect with people who don't live on the farm.

The Iowa Pork Producers' Leadership Academy teaches pig farmers how to better communicate, connect and build trust within their communities.

Listen and Follow

Portraits of Black women who championed suffrage and civil rights painted by Iowa artist Kathy Schumacher are on display at the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art.


Writer: Michael Morain
Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs

Kathy Schumacher was planning to paint portraits of women suffragists to celebrate the centennial of the 19th Amendment a few years ago. But when the Cedar Rapids artist discovered how “African American women had been pushed out of the movement,” she says, she wanted to paint them back in.

Her new portrait series of two dozen Black women who championed suffrage and civil rights fills a show called “Freedom’s Daughters,” on display through May 1 at the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art. She borrowed the title from a book by Lynne Olson, which introduced her to unsung Black female leaders from 1830 to 1970.

“I was much more drawn to their personal details than whether they were the president of this or the head of that,” Schumacher says. “I was interested in their own stories, in their own words.”

In the gallery, some of those words play on a video voiced by the Iowa Artist Fellow Akwi Nji, a Cameroonian American artist who has a studio down the hall from Schumacher’s in the Cherry Building in the Czech Village/New Bohemia District. Both artists will join curator Kate Kunau for a discussion at 2 p.m. April 24 to examine how their white and Black identities informed their collaboration and different points of view.
Served with a side of corned beef gravy, these breaded mashed potato balls are filled with roasted corn and cheese. Photograph: Pat & Fran's Irish Pub.


If you can't make it to Cork to kiss the Blarney Stone, you'll find a mouthful on the menu at Pat & Fran's Irish Pub in Coralville. The pub opened in November of 2020 at 808 Fifth St. and serves a wide variety of Irish-American comfort food and drinks, including 25 whiskey varieties. The pub has an attached outdoor patio for those who prefer to dine and say sláinte al fresco.

On St. Patrick's Day, the pub will open at 8 a.m. and offer specials, including breakfast options like corned beef hash and a banger, eggs and toast dish. Drink specials will run all day, including a green tea breakfast shot, Irish car bombs, and the signature Pat and Fran's shot. Or, treat yourself to a whiskey flight. At 5 p.m., Irish dancers will perform.
The Bix Beiderbecke Museum, the Bix Beiderbecke Memorial Society and River Music Experience—all in Davenport—present NOLA Jazz Band in concert Saturday. Photograph: NOLA Jazz Band.


Writer: Michael Morain
Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs

The cornet player Bix Beiderbecke was born on this day in 1903 in Davenport. If he were still around to celebrate, you’d probably find him tearing it up with the NOLA Jazz Band at 7 p.m. Saturday at the River Music Experience in his hometown.

It’s one of those full-circle things. Bix was just 17 when he heard Louis Armstrong play on a New Orleans riverboat while it was docked at Davenport. The young Iowan went pro himself just two years later and recorded his first hits in 1924 with the Wolverine Orchestra, a New Orleans-style jazz combo. He rose to fame and rode it out until booze pulled him under at age 28.

Fast-forward: The eight-piece NOLA Jazz Band—named for New Orleans—debuted seven years ago in the rowdy basement at the former Des Moines Social Club and has played around the Midwest ever since. Their concert in Davenport’s Cultural & Entertainment District is presented by River Music Experience, the Bix Beiderbecke Museum and the Bix Memorial Society with support from the Iowa Arts Council and a few century-old echoes of a lively night at the docks.
Several Iowa farms allow the public to interact with their alpacas, which are prized for their fleece.


Irish Meadows Alpaca Farm, La Motte
Located in far eastern Iowa south of Dubuque, this picturesque 1850s farm is all the sweeter with alpacas. With about 140 of the fluffy animals and several old brick-red barns, visitors can snap photos and shop for socks, hats, scarves, blankets and yarn on-site or online at

Rusty Stars Alpaca Farm, Winterset
Open Saturdays to visitors, this Madison County farm allows you to meet and feed alpacas with names like Niko, Ginger, Tanzie and Maybelle. A shop features stuffed alpacas, plus socks, yarn, shirts and candles. But the real fun is entering the alpaca enclosure, feeling how super soft their coats are, and seeing their natural reactions.

J&J Alpacas, Muscatine
Available by appointment only, this farm southwest of Davenport offers tours for a nominal fee. If you’re lucky, you’ll see crias (the babies) and learn their names from owner Jody Ehler. Raw fibers are also available for sale in up to 12 colors.

Triangular patches of lawn were transformed into a pollinator paradise in a student-driven initiative on the Grinnell College campus. Photograph: Kelly D. Norris.


College campuses are known for lush lawn spaces where students can study, lounge and toss a Frisbee. But last spring, students at Grinnell College advocated for repurposing segments into a herbicide-free environment that more closely mimics native tallgrass prairie. Well-known Iowa horticulturist Kelly D. Norris consulted on the project, which will expand into additional space this spring.

"From the beginning, it was clear there was an enormous amount of passion and enthusiasm for reinterpreting the heritage of tallgrass prairie and honoring the indigenous history of Grinnell," says Norris. The 5,000-square- foot project features 90% native species, and Norris says its design took inspiration from historical records and writings as well as the architecture of the landmark Louis Sullivan Jewel Box Bank in downtown Grinnell.

"Sullivan would create these mottled brick colors and patterns," Norris says. "They're sort of subtle but increase intricacies and details. I thought about that as I made the planting. In some ways, each of these plants is like a little jewel bedecking a brooch or something. There are fine little details, and it's quite diverse. It's quite dense. I think it's going to be a great tool for teaching botany and biology."

See Kelly’s Des Moines garden in last year’s issue of "ia" here.
Guide to Small Business Loans for Women

Women are often underrepresented in traditional loan approvals. This means being able to qualify for woman-specific loans and funding methods can help improve your business's financial prospects.

... Read more

Mari Hunt Wassink (left), Dan Hogan (center) and Jake Kundert work in Grow: Johnson County’s 5-acre farm in Iowa City. Produce from these fields go to those in need around the area. Photographer: Joe Crimmings.


Writer: Veronica Lorson Fowler

Iowa may have the land, soil and climate ideal for growing crops, but there are still people who don’t have enough fresh produce to sustain a healthy diet. Food-insecure individuals often have difficulty getting vegetables and fruits not just because of cost, but also because of logistics. It’s challenging for food agencies to manage fresh produce, which can spoil in just a few days.

That’s what organizations like Up From the Earth (Sioux City) hope to prevent. Founded eight years ago by retired dentist Randy Burnight, it connects home gardeners—many of whom have been urged to plant a little extra to share—with collection points that quickly transport food to pantries. Read our full article about how Up From the Earth and three other organizations around the state are helping in Iowa Stops Hunger.

Iowa Stops Hunger is an ongoing Business Publications Corp. Inc. initiative to raise awareness of food insecurity and inspire action to combat it.
Traditional Irish music and a parade are among the St. Patrick's Day celebrations in Emmetsburg this month.


Emmetsburg and Dublin, Ireland, were officially declared "Sister Cities" in 1962. Sixty years later, the local St. Patrick's Association continues to ensure celebrations are stronger than ever, with a full slate of festivities that build community and honor the town's Irish ancestry.

The main event is the St. Patrick's Day Parade on Saturday, March 19. But in a town named after Irish hero Robert Emmet, the fun starts with the Jr. Miss and Miss Shamrock pageant on March 13 and picks up again March 17-20. Enjoy a fish fry, folk music, and stop into Emmetsburg Irish Gifts to pick up a Celtic souvenir. Find the complete schedule at

And St. Patrick societies across the state play host to celebrations. In the Quad Cities, the nation’s only bi-state St. Patrick’s Grand Parade will traverse from downtown Rock Island, IIlinois, across the Talbot/Centennial Bridge and through downtown Davenport on March 12.

Business Publications Corporation Inc.

Submit news:
Advertising info:
Membership info:

Copyright © BPC 2022, All rights reserved.
Reproduction or use without permission of editorial or graphic content in any manner is strictly prohibited.

Email Marketing by ActiveCampaign