ia: The best of Iowa arts and culture
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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

Decorah businesses transform into theater spaces to host Oneota Film Festival screenings March 3-6.


Writer: Michael Morain
Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs

For years, Decorah’s annual Oneota Film Festival has taken place at Luther College. But next week the free festival is moving off-campus and downtown. The popular event has found a permanent spot on the calendar— the first weekend in March—to light up screens at the historic Hotel Winneshiek as well as Impact Coffee, T-Bocks and Convergence Cidery. Venues are all within a few blocks that are also packed with local shops.

The film festival's new director, Elise Skellenger, says this year’s jury chose the lineup’s 50-some titles with an eye toward variety. Documentaries, narrative features, animated shorts—there’s a story for just about everyone. A screening of “Storm Lake,” the buzzy documentary about Iowa newspaper editor Art Cullen, will kick things off. Attendees can also get on-screen at a drop-in open house, which invites visitors to experiment with green-screen technology to superimpose themselves in locations such as the tropics or outer space. Find a schedule and film descriptions at

To find other
film festivals across the state, visit
The Woodbury County Courthouse in Sioux City, designed by William LaBarthe Steele in 1918, is a National Historic Landmark. Photograph: Pete Franks.


Writer: Michael Morain
Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs

Iowa isn't the oldest state, but we can claim the first designated National Historic Landmark. The Sergeant (Charles) Floyd Monument in Sioux City, which honors the only man who died on the Lewis and Clark Expedition, earned the designation in 1960—the first of about 2,500 sites nationwide.

Iowa now boasts 27 National Historic Landmarks, including the Amana Colonies, the Historic General Dodge House in Council Bluffs, and the sock-hoppin’ Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, which was added to the list just last year. One of the grandest is the 1918 Woodbury County Courthouse, an ornately decorated and painstakingly preserved Prairie School building in Sioux City that once housed a pharmacy, a cigar store and a goldfish pond. It draws architecture fans from all over the world.

March is Iowa History Month, so there’s no better time to visit these landmarks and learn about Iowa’s remarkable past. You can find more activities online, in person at the State Historical Museum of Iowa, and at libraries and local history museums across the state.
Learn how a couple from Chicago, Jason Loper (left) and Michael Schreiber, explored and restored the legacy of their architecturally significant home in northeast Iowa.


What is it like to live in a home designed by Frank Lloyd Wright? Find out in a recently released, award-winning book authored by the current residents who are committed to celebrating the storied history of the Meier House in Monona.

In "This American House: Frank Lloyd Wright's Meier House and the American System-Built Homes,"
Jason Loper and Michael Schreiber shed light on the home's unique place within Wright's oeuvre and Iowa architectural history and their efforts to steward this early 20th-century Prairie-style gem into the 21st century.

The Delbert W. and Grace B. Meier House is one of the few existing examples of Frank Lloyd Wrights' American System-Built Homes project of the 1910s. The book highlights a
long-overlooked early effort by Wright to provide affordable but architecturally distinctive housing to middle-class homeowners. Published by Pomegranate in July 2021, “This American House” recently took home a Silver Design Award for Historical/Biographical Books in the PubWest Book Design Awards.

Read more about the book and take a virtual tour of the house here.

Brunch options at Burlington's Good Restaurant + Lounge include "bird and bread," which features French toasted brioche, fried chicken, maple aioli, hot honey and candied orange. Photograph: Good Restaurant + Lounge.


In 2019, the historic Harper-Ekdale home in Burlington got a new life as a restaurant offering a contemporary American menu as well as a creative space to gather. Owners TJ Widbin, 34, and Melissa Cervantes, 29, rehabbed the structure and reimagined its possibilities, opening Good Restaurant + Lounge in the storied house.

"You never really feel as comfortable as you do when you're welcomed into someone's home," Says Widbin, a Burlington native. Although the couple doesn't live on-site, their personalized approach to hospitality infuses the space, which is also decorated with photography from Cervantes' hometown of San Francisco. "You're not coming just for a meal," says Widbin. "We want you to have the full experience."

Enjoy brunch or dinner in the restored dining rooms and deck of the 178-year-old stone house along the Mississippi River or beer and board games (and a ball pit!) in an upstairs lounge space designed for fun. The team behind the concept is committed to expanding options in the southeastern corner of the state. They also own Lost Bear Coffee and recently announced that Revel Bakery, also of Burlington, will bring pastries into the mix.
Singer Damien Sneed, who was mentored by Aretha Franklin, is among the artists performing a tribute concert at Iowa City's Hancher Auditorium on March 10.


Aretha Franklin fans can experience the towering spirit of the late, legendary singer through a multimedia production stopping at Hancher Auditorium in Iowa City on Thursday, March 10. In "A Tribute to Aretha Franklin: The Queen of Soul,” bandleader, vocalist and composer Damien Sneed pays homage to the icon with fresh renditions of her beloved hits.

Sneed, who toured with Franklin and developed a close relationship with the soul legend, will be joined in concert by four-time Grammy Award winner Karen Clark Sheard.
Details and ticket info are available here.
Looking to increase capacity or expand your business?

The USDA’s new loan program provides financial support to businesses wanting to start or expand middle of the food supply chain activities such as aggregation, processing, manufacturing, storage, transportation, wholesale, or distribution of food.

... Read more

The historic boathouse at Backbone State Park near Strawberry Point is an example of one of the CCC projects at the state's first designated park. Photograph: Iowa Department of Natural Resources.


The legacy of the Civilian Conservation Corps lives on at Backbone State Park near Strawberry Point, which boasts several structures constructed by workers in the 1930s New Deal program. A museum near the park’s west gate offers a look into the dedicated work of the CCC in Iowa parks. It's an interesting stop within Iowa's first state park, which was dedicated in 1920 and retains historic charm along with exceptional natural beauty.

The Backbone State Park trail system features 21 miles of hiking and multiuse trails. The Backbone Trail, which meanders along a limestone ridge, "The Devil's Backbone," is a short, family-friendly option that offers scenic views. In addition to hiking and cabin and tent camping in the 2,000-acre area, popular activities include fishing for trout in a stream fed by Richmond Springs, boating on Backbone Lake, and rock-climbing the park's dolomite limestone cliffs. Climbers are required to register at the park office before traversing the bluffs. Learn more here.

Kaleb Wyse of Mount Pleasant is among the guests sharing their expertise at the 2022 Des Moines Home + Garden Show Feb. 24-27.


After the recent spring-like temperatures, gardens will start greening up soon and it's time to get ready. Iowa-based "Wyse Guide" co-creator Kaleb Wyse is among more than 400 experts sharing fresh ideas and practical advice at the Des Moines Home + Garden Show at the Iowa Events Center, today through Sunday. Wyse, who publishes recipe ideas based on his farmhouse garden in the Mount Pleasant area, will present tips and tricks for potting, planting, caring for and preserving herbs.

"I think herbs are a great segue to gardening, even if you don't want a huge vegetable garden," Wyse says. Among his favorites are basil for its versatility and dill for both its cooking qualities and ability to attract swallowtail butterflies, as well as bronze fennel and pineapple sage. "A lot of times people enjoy herbs because they have an ornamental aspect to them," Wyse says. "They can be pretty. They can flower. They're great for pollinators."

In addition to hearing from experts like Wyse, event attendees can visit and shop from hundreds of exhibits featuring innovative products and services related to gardening, remodeling and home decor. Find more information and secure online tickets here.
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