Sugar Skulls and Mad Science
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Produced in partnership with the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs
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Day of the Dead is a Mexican holiday typically celebrated Nov. 1-2. Families welcome home the souls of deceased loved ones, honoring them with offerings, prayers and the creation of home altars called ofrendas. Photo: Nick Fewings.

Day of the Dead in Des Moines

Time to mask up. With luchador masks, that is. This year, the Des Moines Art Center is celebrating Día de los Muertos, lucha libre-style.

In a celebratory collaboration with 2022 Iowa Artist Miriam Alarcón Avila, the Art Center will infuse themes of wrestling and luchadores into its annual Day of the Dead Celebration (Oct. 30) to honor Mexican heritage, ancestors and immigrant experiences.

Avila’s work will be featured in an upcoming exhibit that opens tomorrow (Oct. 28), capturing the stories of Latino people in her Iowa community (read more about  her “Immigrant Luchadores” photo series in this dsm article). She has also been commissioned to design this year’s Day of the Dead ofrenda at the Art Center.

Day of the Dead festivities will be Sunday, Oct. 30, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Find food, activities and entertainment joining these two Mexican traditions, plus view Avila’s photos, lucha masks and immigrant stories.
Book your calendar for Nov. 12 for the holiday Vintage and Made Fair at the Dallas County Fairgrounds in Adel (it’s just north of town—look for the signs). Shop for vintage and crafted items such as handmade pottery, plus find food trucks and live music.

Start Your Holiday Shopping in Adel

Avoid the mall this shopping season in favor of items handmade and collected by fellow Iowans and other Midwesterners at the Vintage and Made Fair Nov. 12 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Dallas County Fairgrounds in Adel. Reserve your tickets for $8 here now through Nov. 4, or pay $10 at the door. Kids 12 and under get in free; credit is accepted.

Stroll through buildings and booths to find all sorts of items for gifts—leather purses, bags and bracelets; earrings, rings and necklaces in numerous styles and finishes; artwork, cards and baskets; and more. Fans of vintage clothing and home furnishings can shop for one-of-a-kind finds. (At the fair’s September event, we shopped from 164 vendors and had to bring home hot honey and a hand-sewn jean jacket.)

Mobile trucks serving snacks and beverages are at the ready for quick nourishment throughout the day.

Visitors are encouraged to don their costumes for their day at the museum in Dubuque. Just try not to get pumpkin guts on them. Photo: Courtesy of the National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium.

Dabble in Science in Dubuque

Smashing pumpkins? That’s for amateurs. This Sunday, you can detonate pumpkins during Mad Scientist Fun Day Oct. 30 at the National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium in Dubuque.

The messy experiment will be just one of the day’s highlights for kids and families, along with “creature feature” programs at the aquarium and trick-or-treating through the museum. Bonus: You can learn about all that candy during a screening of the BBC documentary “Inside the Factory: Sweets.”

Of course, the Smithsonian-affiliated museum and aquarium are worth a visit anytime you’re in Dubuque. The mix of temporary and permanent exhibits features the ecology and history of the mighty Mississippi, which flows right outside.

Located in the ISU Research Park in Ames (use your navigation to find), Provision Lot F serves elevated comfort cuisine, including sandwiches, grain bowls and omelets. Plus, there’s an extensive dessert selection. Photo: Kellar Schaefer.

Book It to Ames for Brunch

Whether you’re in town for the big game against Oklahoma on Saturday or are looking for a quieter Sunday bite, Provisions Lot F is one of our favorite fall stops for comfort cuisine in Ames.

While the Cafe on the north side of town is a timeless and tempting choice, its younger sibling near the south-side ISU Research Park has even more to offer kids. On our recent Sunday visit, the Provisions burger with zinfandel onions and thyme aioli was perfectly prepared and seasoned, as were the Old Bay potatoes.

Other brunch favorites include chicken and waffles (recommended by the server), biscuits and gravy, and three-egg omelets. And on the way out, swing by the bakery case for a to-go treat.

Weekend hours are Friday and Saturday from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m.

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Ceremonial mounds in shapes such as bears and birds are what make Effigy Mounds National Monument unique. Here, the Little Bear group is a highlight on a hike on the Fire Point Loop trail. Photo: Mary Willie.

Take a Hike Through Effigy Mounds

Writer: Beth Eslinger

Iowa’s only national monument, Effigy Mounds not only possesses natural beauty but also evokes respect and awe. Between 850 and 1,500 years ago, Native peoples built ceremonial and burial mounds—all together there are 206, including 31 animal shapes. While conical and linear mounds occur throughout the Midwest and East, the animal shapes make these unique.

Established in 1949, Effigy Mounds National Monument is located in the Driftless area of northeast Iowa, which missed glaciation during the last ice age. This means hikers can expect to encounter hilly terrain, rocky limestone outcroppings, and deeply carved river valleys, including the Mississippi and Yellow rivers flowing through the park.

There are two main areas to explore, each worthwhile. From the visitor center, a self-guided trail climbs north past a small bear grouping and a series of conical dots leading to Fire Point, which overlooks the Mississippi. While taking a break, see Pikes Peak State Park—named after 1805 explorer Zebulon Pike—to the south and Prairie du Chien across the river in Wisconsin. You’ll likely see fabric prayer bundles tied to the fences and trees—these are often used in Native traditional ceremonies and honor the ancestors who were buried here.

It’s possible to loop back for a quick 2 miles or continue for up to a 7-mile hike. There are more series of conical and linear mounds, a few more bears, plus more river overlooks. Find more to explore on the trails and in the nearby towns of Marquette and McGregor in this article from the latest issue of ia.
Film submissions to the Muscatine Music & Independent Film Festival come from a variety of genres, including short films, mystery, experimental and documentary. Awards are given at the end of the festival. Photo: Muscatine Music & Independent Film Festival.

Music and Film in Muscatine

Crank up the volume: Music will get equal billing at an annual film festival in southeast Iowa. The newly renamed Muscatine Music & Independent Film Festival will feature a mix of music videos and live music along with film screenings Nov. 4-5 at the local performing arts center and a nearby brewery.

“Music is everywhere. It’s in everything,” festival director Chad Bishop says. “With my favorite movies, I always look back and think—oh, the soundtrack!” (His tastes run the gamut, from “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” to “Vanilla Sky.”)

Before the pandemic, about 85% of the Muscatine festival’s audiences came from out of town, according to an economic-impact survey conducted by Produce Iowa, the state office of film and media. So Bishop decided to add music to entice more localsand whoever else enjoys a good time.

Music “makes all the difference,” he says. “It affects your emotional response.”
Student Food Pantry at Kirkwood Community College. Photo: Courtesy of Kirkwood Community College.

Pantries on Campus Help Students Succeed

We all know about the “freshman 15,” where a newly independent teenager comes home from their first year of college with a little extra weight. What many of us don’t realize is the number of college students who struggle to find access to food or simply can’t afford healthy meals. Feeding America defines food insecurity as a lack of consistent access to enough food for every person in a household to live an active, healthy life. According to the USDA, there are over 38 million people who experience food insecurity right here in the United States.

Now, approximately 1 in 3 college students are food insecure. Unlike previous generations, today’s college student, on average, is more nontraditional. They are often full-time workers, financially independent, a parent or a caretaker. Because of many of these factors, some students must choose between paying for their education and paying for their next meal.

Colleges and universities across the nation are often located in food desert areas—typically defined as an urban area in which it is difficult to buy affordable or good-quality fresh food. In Iowa, the nearest grocery store in proximity to a college campus can be almost 4 miles away. As a result, many campuses throughout the state have set up food pantries, specifically aimed toward addressing hunger among college students. Read more about how the college pantries work, and find a list of locations around several Iowa colleges here.

Iowa Stops Hunger is an ongoing Business Publications Corp. initiative to raise awareness of food insecurity in Iowa and inspire action to combat it.

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