ia: The best of Iowa arts and culture
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Produced in partnership with the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs
ChopTalk Takes You on the Iowa Tenderloin Trail!

Tenderized, breaded, fried or filleted, join Laurie Johns as she hits the Iowa Tenderloin Trail in search of culinary perfection of Iowa's favorite pork sandwich.

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Enjoy live music at the Ames Main Street Farmers' Market and maybe even a cameo from Cy before the big game Saturday. Photo: Ames Main Street Farmers' Market


The entire state (and country, thanks to ESPN's "College GameDay" show) seems to be converging in Ames on Saturday for the annual Cy-Hawk football showdown. With a 3:30 p.m. start time, there are plenty of reasons to get an early start to experience some of the town’s highlights, even if you’re tailgating.

Downtown Discoveries
Each Saturday morning starting at 8, the Ames Main Street Farmers’ Market takes over the 300 and 400 blocks of Main Street. Shop for tailgating snacks—fresh produce, meats and cheeses, and baked goods to complement your spread.

While downtown, order a flight of java at Morning Bell Coffee Roasters. Make sure to check out Back Alley House Plants behind the coffee shop for the latest plant and container trends—it opens early. For tea lovers, find special blends at Little Woods: Herbs and Teas; it's across the street.

Campustown Dining
If you’re eager to make it to the heart of campus early, park it at the Memorial Union ramp for the day and explore the area on foot. While you’ll find typical college cuisine in Campustown, several international and upscale options add flavor to the day. In business since the 1990s, Café Beaudelaire dishes Brazilian beats and eats such as yucca fries, empanadas and feijoada, one of Brazil’s best-known dishes. Make sure to sample a Latin drink (open at 10 a.m.).

For more empanada and yucca bites, stop by Macubana on Welch Avenue. The Tempura Mac Attack and Cubanos (including a vegan option) are top draws (open at 11 a.m.). New on Welch Avenue, Ichiban Japanese Restaurant serves sushi, bento boxes and ramen. And for relaxed outdoor dining with great student-watching, Bar La Tosca delivers. Order an early lunch of small plates such as antipasti.
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Lone Oaks Farm will participate in the Madison County Fall Crawl Sept. 26, which will feature live music, farm tours, goods for sale and more.


Plan a complete day of business tours—including farms, event venues, wineries, cideries and a new downtown Winterset dining spot—during the Madison County Fall Crawl, Sept. 26. Enjoy live music, tasty samples, shopping and more at the Sunday event, which runs from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Kick off the day at Pammel Park Coffee Co. for a fresh roast, then head to Cedar Shake Farm nearby to see what’s blooming in the fields. Take more flower-filled selfies for your social feed at PepperHarrow, another local favorite. Other farms on the tour include Speckled Hen Farms (funky farm store), Lone Oaks Farm (gorgeous restored 1850s barn), and Bigelow Family Farm (beef and pork products). Many of the venues (12 in all) have food trucks; grab a passport and get stamps at each stop for a chance to win a prize at the end.

Finish up the day with a sip of cider, wine or beer at Big Rack Brew House, The Drift, Covered Bridges Winery, Madison County Winery, or Winterset Cidery.

Find more information about the event, including specific business hours, on Facebook.
Music Man Square in Mason City showcases a replica of the 1912 streetscape created for the film "The Music Man," including characters in costumes. Photo: Travel Mason City


Writer: Michael Morain
Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs

If you just can’t wait to see Hugh Jackman take on the title role in “The Music Man” this winter on Broadway, keep your chin up. There’s plenty of music right here in the real-life River City, otherwise known as Mason City.

The hometown of the famous composer Meredith Willson brings in top-notch talent for free public concerts in the Footbridge Concert Series at Music Man Square, where you can hear David Lang play a few tunes on his euphonium (like a tuba, but smaller) at 4 p.m. Sept. 19. The retired band director from Independence has won just about every award a bandmaster can win and toured Europe 10 times as a euphonium soloist with the Iowa Ambassadors of Music. (Not even Harold Hill could claim that.)

While you’re in town, explore Music Man Square to see a replica of the 1912 streetscape that Hollywood created for the 1962 movie, then see the house next door where Willson grew up.

You can also take a peek at the almost-finished Principal Performing Arts Pavilion, an indoor-outdoor space that is scheduled to officially open in October and serve as the new home of the Mason City Municipal Band. It’s the latest piece of the River City Renaissance, a transformation of the downtown mall and surrounding area into a hot spot for new shops, restaurants and housing. The neighborhood is one of 13 Iowa Cultural and Entertainment Districts, and the city itself is an Iowa Great Place, designated by the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs.
The Weiner Dog Dash is a popular event at GermanFest in Guttenberg, Sept. 24–25. Photo: Travel Iowa


Sited right on the Mississippi River, Guttenberg in northeast Iowa will celebrate its 30th GermanFest on Sept. 24 and 25. And the event promises a complete weekend of fun.

There are numerous ways to participate. Run a 5k, learn to polka dance, see how many brats you can eat, and test out your home brew and sauerkraut recipes against other enthusiasts. And if you have a dachshund, see how fast he or she can fly against others in the Weiner Dog Dash. Of course, there’s German beer, live music and more food, including a roast pork and brat dinner. For the kids, find games, a rock-climbing wall and inflatables. Look for hotels or vacation rentals in Dubuque, about 40 miles to the south.

German roots run deep in Guttenberg, which was settled by the immigrant group in the mid-1840s. Fun fact: The town takes its name after the inventor of moveable type—the Guttenberg press.

Find more information on GermanFest here.

Top row, from left: Iowa Artist Fellows Brittany Brooke Crow, Francesca Soans and Louisa Kames. Bottom row: Emma Murray and Paul Brooke. Photo: Iowa Arts Council


Five Iowa artists received Iowa Artist Fellowships from the Iowa Arts Council, which recognized the honorees for exceptional creativity, innovative work and career readiness. A panel of Iowa arts professionals selected writers Paul Brooke (Ames) and Emma Murray (Des Moines), photographer Brittany Brooke Crow (Des Moines), printmaker Louise Kames (Dubuque) and filmmaker Francesca Soans (Waterloo) from a pool of more than 50 applicants and 21 finalists.

Each fellow will receive a $10,000 grant and in-depth training from Strategic Planning Partners, one of the country’s leading providers of professional development for artists. In addition to grants, professional development and promotional support, fellows also virtually participate in "Meet the Artist" public programs at various arts and cultural venues throughout the state. More about the program can be found online.
Artists will showcase their works at the Lincoln Highway Arts Festival. Photo: Mount Vernon Area Arts Council


Writer: Jeff Morgan
Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs

If you've ever wondered about the first transcontinental highway in the country, you may be glad to know the Lincoln Highway was dedicated in 1913 and stretches from Times Square in New York City to Lincoln Park in San Francisco.

This month, highway traffic begins and ends Sept. 18 in Mount Vernon with the 15th Annual Lincoln Highway Arts Festival, where artists will line the streets for a fun-filled day. More than 40 artists are included in the festival, which runs from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and features potter's wheel demonstrations by Zach Wollert, children's altered book activities, food from Bigs BBQ, magician Remington Haynes and more.

Mount Vernon also is home to a thriving pool of musicians and performers, and they'll be pumping the crowd with energy throughout the day. Look for featured performances from The Better Haves, The Soul Mongers and Dance Arts Iowa.

Be sure to check out the entire Mount Vernon Cultural and Entertainment District, which includes performance spaces, arts and arts-related business, dining and lodging establishments. More than 20 specialty shops get in on the fun by hosting art-themed pop-up events and sales throughout the festival. Mount Vernon received the Cultural and Entertainment District designation from the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs in 2019.
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