ia: The best of Iowa arts and culture
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Produced in partnership with the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs
ChopTalk: The Circle of Sustainability

For Iowa pig farmers, sustainability isn't just a trend, it's a way of life, and has been for generations. From pigs to pork chops, Laurie John talks with farmers about the circle of sustainable pig production.

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The Wells Visitor Center & Ice Cream Parlor in Le Mars is a must-do while in town for RAGBRAI's overnight stop. Photo: Wells Visitor Center & Ice Cream Parlor


Another casualty of the year that was 2020, the favorite cycling event in the state is back on July 25-31 with a few new stops from last year’s plan. We scouted a majority of the trip pre-pandemic. Here are our suggestions.

Le Mars
If you haven’t been, this town is sweet. Literally—it’s home to Blue Bunny ice cream and the downtown near the factory wafts with vanilla goodness. Park it downtown and head to Wells Visitor Center & Ice Cream Parlor to sample some of the town’s treat. For barbecue and patio fans, fuel up for the ride ahead at Iowa Barbecue.

Fort Dodge
Blanden Art Museum packs an artful punch. Enter and see Chihuly glass, special exhibits (2020 highlighted women artists from 1890 and beyond), and modern sculptures outside. If want to go back, plan on a short trip to Dolliver Memorial State Park for a hike.

Iowa Falls
Sited on the Iowa River, the town of about 5,200 has a thriving downtown and is now home to a cool new brewery, Timbuckbrü—the perfect after-ride stop. We visited their home base in Clarion and loved the laid-back vibe, cool owners and staff, arty interiors and, of course, the beers. They opened the Iowa Falls location during the pandemic.

Downtown is going to be funfest during RAGBRAI week. Head first to Singlespeed Brewing for a flight of local brews and light bites. We love the flatbreads and brussels sprouts with hoisin and cilantro. Kombucha fans should check out Verve nearby. And for the ultimate carb load, head to the Brown Bottle, a Waterloo institution that serves up old-school pasta.

Home to the state penitentiary, you can visit the museum and purchase prison memorabilia as a reminder to keep on the straight and narrow. Motorcycle fans can check out the National Motorcycle Museum.
The Iowa Theater in Winterset will host four Broadway vocalists on July 16 and 17.


If you want to get a taste of Broadway in small-town Iowa, next weekend is your chance. The Iowa Theater in Winterset will host four Broadway vocalists for three performances of "Broadway at the Iowa," featuring favorite musical tunes from the historic vaudeville-style stage, on July 16 (7 p.m.) and 17 (2 and 7 p.m.).

David Michael Curry, a permanent bass-baritone cast member of "Phantom of the Opera," will be joined by Amy Justman and Satomi Hofmann, also "Phantom" cast members. The fourth singer is Colin Anderson, who was a part of the 2018 revival of "Carousel."

"These performers are only available to come to Iowa because Broadway is still dark until this fall," says Marianne Fons, who owns and renovated the Iowa Theater. "And they are very excited about performing together in front of a live audience for the first time in a long time due to COVID." She added that local businesses are helping cover travel costs and musical accompaniments from Drake University. There will also be a baby grand piano onstage.

Tickets start at $25 for listen-only seats in the back of the theater. Front-row spots are $100.
The Key to a Solid Financial Plan

Do you fully understand the biggest risks you face? Losing your ability to work? A large, sudden need for cash? Leaving your family without proper planning? Learn more about how laying a solid foundation for your financial plan can have a long lasting impact.
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On the north side of Ames, Alluvial, a rustic brewery, has a charming brick patio. Photo: Travel Iowa


Take a road trip to Ames this summer, and while there, check out these patio spots around town.

Cornbred Barbecue
In the city’s original rail depot on Main Street, this barbecue spot features some of the most relaxed outdoor dining in the city, with twinkle lights illuminating the patio. Enjoy the trains whizzing by with an Iowa-made brew and your choice of smoked meats and sides.

“Visiting Alluvial is like taking a trip to Colorado or California—it is transporting,” says Nadav Mer, co-owner of downtown’s Morning Bell Coffee Roasters. Grab a sour, IPA or seltzer to enjoy outside at the north-side brewery’s patio.

Prairie Moon Winery and Vineyards
Next door to Alluvial, this pretty 13-acre spot offers more sips of dry reds and whites such as syrah and chardonnay as well as sweeter tastes. Enjoy a glass outside their big red barn.   

The Mucky Duck Pub
The south-side fun spot mixes up Indian (vindaloos), German (sausage platters) and British (Scotch eggs) cuisines to enjoy on the sunny patio with a pint. 

Lockwood Cafe
Community members of all ages converge on this northwest site—formerly a grain elevator—for crepes, coffee and conversation. Sweet and savory crepes are both available, as are vegan offerings. Kids can play outside on the new playground, and there’s laid-back outdoor seating. 
Council Bluffs' Chanticleer Theater is one of the recipients of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs' annual grants.
Photo: Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs


This week the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs announced $2.3 million in grants for art, film and history projects. In all, 244 grants were awarded to Iowans and Iowa organizations in 46 counties and 71 communities across the state.

The annual funding from the Iowa Legislature, with support from the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities, “has never been more important,” Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs Director Chris Kramer says. “Audiences and visitors are eagerly returning to museums and historic sites, concerts and cultural festivals this summer, even as our industry continues to rebound from substantial financial losses from the pandemic.”

The list of grant-funded programs and projects runs the gamut, including a poetry-filled video series about Indigenous culture by Iowa City artist Dawson Davenport; “Walls of Honor” art exhibitions created by military veterans and curated by the New Century Art Guild in Elk Horn; a comedy web series called “In Luck” by the Urbandale filmmaker Rebecca Haroldson; and a new exhibition about Iowa’s geological, anthropological and archaeological past at the Jester Park Nature Center in Granger.

Learn more about the grants and browse the full list of recipients at
Helping Solve Food Insecurity
At Bankers Trust, we believe combating hunger and food insecurity requires a combination of efforts across the food system. That’s why the bank proudly supports several organizations that are addressing food insecurity in Central Iowa and beyond, including the World Food Prize, Meals from the Heartland, the Food Bank of Iowa and Eat Greater Des Moines.
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State Curator Leo Landis greets a visitor to the State Historical Society of Iowa's mobile museum. Photo: Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs


The State Historical Society of Iowa’s mobile museum hits the road again (after a 16-month pit stop during the pandemic) to visit this weekend’s Pomeroy Sesquicentennial.

Housed in a custom-built Winnebago, the brand-new exhibition “Iowa History 101: Iowa’s People & Places” explores 13,000 years of history with 56 artifacts from the brick-and-mortar State Historical Museum in Des Moines.

The museum on wheels will visit all 99 Iowa counties from this weekend through 2023, similar to its first three-year tour with an earlier exhibition from 2017 through 2019. The first tour made 175 stops across all 99 counties and attracted nearly 65,000 visitors, including 11,400 students.

“Our first statewide tour was an enormous success, and Iowans let us know they wanted this traveling museum to keep rolling with another exhibition," says Susan Kloewer, administrator of the State Historical Society of Iowa. "We're eager to take this history experience back on the road and to share more stories with Iowans.”

Highlights from the new display include a silver token from the Hudson Bay Co. from the early 1800s, Iowa first lady Jane Kirkwood’s knitting needles, a Meskwaki cradleboard, a menu from Soviet leader Nikita Krushchev’s 1959 visit to Iowa, an Iowa State women’s track uniform from 1972 (the year Title IX took effect), former Des Moines Water Works Director L.D. McMullen’s boots from the flood of 1993, and a space suit worn by astronaut Peggy Whitson, who grew up in Beaconsfield.

See it all for yourself in Pomeroy (July 9-11), Columbus Junction (July 27-31), Britt (Aug. 6-8), Wilton (Aug. 20-22), Shenandoah (Sept. 25) and Lamoni (Oct. 3).
More than 50 works are on display at the Dubuque Museum of Art's Biennial exhibition.


Some of the the region's best artists are featured in the Dubuque Museum of Art's "DuMA Biennial" juried exhibition, which is on display through Oct. 31. Presented every two years, the showcase includes 55 creations from 27 artists within a 200-mile radius of the city.

Linda Kelen, a Wisconsin artist, was tabbed as the winner, with Louise Pappageorge of Chicago in second and Alyssa Love from Wisconsin in third. Other artists include Larassa Kabel of Des Moines, Catherine Reinhart of Ames and Tiberiu Chelcea of Ames.

Find a collection of work and artists on the Dubuque Museum of Art website.
One of the stops on your Iowa road trip can be downtown Cedar Falls, which we featured in ia magazine.


Now that the pandemic seems to be in the rearview mirror, the summer travel season has exploded. And the Iowa Tourism Office is hoping to capitalize on that busy season by offering a financial incentive for those taking a road trip to and across the state.

The Fuel Your Road Trip initiative will provide a $25 gift card via email to anyone who plans their road trip using the Build a Trip tool on Travel Iowa's website. Those who participate will also be entered to win a $200 gift card, handed out every week through Aug. 31. And you can increase your chances of winning by using hashtags and social media during the trip.

If you're particularly interested in state parks, you can check out the State Park Passport program to win more prizes.
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