ia: The best of Iowa arts and culture
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Produced in partnership with the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs
Tune in to cooking demonstrations from Port of Des Moines chefs at our virtual ia magazine unveiling.


We can't wait to share with you this year's ia magazine at our virtual unveiling event at noon next Tuesday, July 28. Inside the issue you'll find stories about Iowa's artists, dining and cultural experiences, engaging destinations, beautiful homes and gardens, and more. For this special unveiling, Port of Des Moines chefs will craft charcuterie platters and showcase their porterhouse steak recipes. Attendees will also get a tour of the River Center event space in downtown Des Moines. Registration is free. We hope to see you there!
The Tonsfeldt Round Barn in Le Mars is one piece of history you can check out yourself on the 2021 RAGBRAI route.


By Michael Morain
Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs

So here’s a secret about RAGBRAI: All those towns on the route are there year-round. You can visit them any time you’d like—in a car, with air-conditioning, while you’re wearing loose, breathable clothing.

If you’d like to see the RAGBRAI sights, there’s an app for that. Download the Iowa Culture app for free from the App Store or Google Play and find more than 3,500 cultural landmarks and photo ops in all 99 counties.

The same cities are slated to host the ride next summer, but why wait? Here’s a sampling from the app:

Le Mars: The Tonsfeldt Round Barn was built in 1918 to show off a prized polled Hereford bull and a herd of cattle. It was relocated to the Plymouth County Fairgrounds in the 1980s and added to the National Register of Historic Places.

Storm Lake: The Living Heritage Tree Museum in Sunset Park is filled with trees grown from seedlings or cuttings associated with famous people or events. The Moon Tree, for example, descended from an American sycamore that sprouted from a seed Apollo 12 astronauts took to the moon.

Fort Dodge: The Blanden Memorial Art Museum houses a notable collection of American and European paintings and sculptures, Japanese screens and prints, and work by Iowa artists.

Iowa Falls: The Rock Run Creek Trail offers a 5-mile paved path through town with good views of the woods and wildlife, especially from the elevated bridge.

Waterloo: A mural called “Keki Me Si Metose Neniwa (We the People)” has become an iconic landmark since artist Richard Thomas unveiled it in 2007. He moved to town from New Orleans, after Hurricane Katrina, and painted the mural as a “family portrait” of his new home city, filled with folks from all over the world.

Anamosa: The National Motorcycle Museum has everything you’d expect—and then some. You can see more than 450 examples of almost anything on two wheels, dating back to the late 1800s.

Maquoketa: At the Old City Hall Gallery, check out artwork by Charles Morris and Rose Frantzen, who once painted individual portraits of 180 friends and neighbors for an exhibition that traveled to the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C.

Clinton: The Sawmill Museum celebrates the history of the local lumber industry, with literally cutting-edge exhibits and animatronic versions of the long-gone lumber barons. Be careful, though: The museum presents a “Lumberjill Show” on Aug. 8, featuring the Axe Women of Maine.
Cumming is home to Iowa's first agrihood, which will be built out over the next decade.


Writer: Samantha Thorpe

A farm-centered neighborhood is in the works in Cumming, where residents will be able to hop on a bike, pick up produce at an organic farm, then roll downtown to hear live tunes on weekend evenings. That’s all set to happen at Middlebrook, a 540-acre planned agrihood spearheaded by Diligent Development.

Anchored in respect for the land, agrihoods are a new approach to developments, weaving neighborhoods with community gardens, open spaces for trails, small-production farms, restaurants and retail shops. The homeowners association provides amenities such as parks, trails and landscaping.

At the center of Middlebrook is a 20-acre self-sustaining organic farm. The ag space will envelop Cumming’s town center, doubling as a community gathering space.

Kalen Ludwig, who handles sales and marketing for Middlebrook, says single-family homes already are being constructed. Housing options also include estate homes, townhouses, condos, apartments and potentially tiny homes. Potential restaurants and boutique shops are also in the works.

More than 200 agrihoods have sprouted up around the country as people look for communities that tie them to nature while connecting to locally grown food. The first in Iowa, Middlebrook wants to build on Iowa’s farming and small-town heritage. Dan Fillius, the vegetable farm manager, runs the small-scale production farm that already stocks the community’s farm stand.

“The main point … is to not just be a development that has a community garden, like some agrihoods are, but one that has an integrated agriculture component to it,” Fillius says.
More information can be found at, MiddlebrookFrm on Facebook, and @farmatmiddlebrook on Instagram.
Iowa Stops Hunger is a companywide initiative to help food-insecure Iowans across the state.


Iowa feeds the world, yet many in our state do not know where to turn for their next meal. According to data from the Iowa Food Bank Association, about 1 in 9 Iowans are struggling with hunger. We are joined by our sister publication, the Des Moines Business Record, and dsm magazine in kicking off a new virtual panel event series: Iowa Stops Hunger: Hunger So Close to Home.

In our first discussion at 11:30 a.m. on July 30, we will explore hunger in Iowa, whom it affects, and how the pandemic has made the problem even worse. A panel of experts from nonprofits, government agencies, business and academia will outline the issue and discuss what individuals can do to help.

Among the questions we plan to tackle:

  • What is food insecurity?
  • Who does it affect in Iowa, and who are the newly food insecure in our state?
  • What are the systemic barriers and challenges that lead to food insecurity?
  • How is the pandemic affecting hunger for your workforce, children, seniors, veterans, and diverse and marginalized populations?
  • How does food insecurity hurt the economic output of our state?
  • What can community leaders and the business community do to help?

Register for this free virtual event here.

Iowa Stops Hunger is a yearlong Business Publications Corp. initiative to bring awareness and action to food insecurity in Iowa.

Sweets are a staple at the Iowa State Fair along with deep-fried and on-a-stick options. Photo: Iowa State Fair


This year's Iowa State Fair was canceled, but there is a way for you to grab at least a slice of the experience during the next two weekends. "Taste of the Fair" will bring together vendors on the north side of the Fairgrounds (in the Midway/Thrillville area) in Des Moines while safely social distancing.

Each weekend will feature 20 different Iowa State Fair vendors serving classic deep-fried, on-a-stick and other favorite fair fare. "Taste of the Fair" starts tomorrow, July 24, from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m., then continues from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday, July 25, and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday, July 26. Week two, which begins July 31, has the same hours.

Vendors include Bauder's Ice Cream, Barksdale's State Fair Cookies, Campbell's Corn Dogs and the Iowa Honey Producers Association.

Organizers will implement social distancing guidelines and track crowd numbers. Admission and parking are free. Patrons should enter and exit through Gate 2 off University Avenue, then walk through Gate 14 near the midway/Thrill Ville area. No other gates on the fairgrounds will be open.

In Grimes, sweet corn isn't too hard to find in the late summer and early fall months.


By Michael Morain
Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs

Foodies travel all over the world to sample certain foods at their source, from pizza in Italy to sushi in Japan.
Travel is tough these days, but you don’t have to wander very far to enjoy a few Iowa specialties where they’re made from scratch or coaxed from the ground.

Darcy Dougherty Maulsby, who tends a century farm near Lake City and wrote “
A Culinary History of Iowa,” dished on a few famous Iowa foods that are worth the trip.

Grimes Sweet Corn, Grimes: Nobody has a corner on the sweet corn market, but in central Iowa, at least, folks often seek out Grimes Sweetcorn, which Ray and Michelle Christenson have been growing since the ‘80s on their farm between Grimes and Granger. They’re part of a tradition, of course, that started more than 1,200 years ago.

Maulsby isn’t partial to one farm’s corn over another, as long as it comes from the back of an Iowa pickup. “I’ve had Illinois people argue with me about that,” she says. “Isn’t that a bold claim to make to an Iowa farmer?”

Maytag Blue Cheese, Newton: Elmer Maytag, the son of appliance company founder Frederick Maytag, bought a cow in 1919 to supply his family with milk. And then he bought and bred a few more. And a few more. And a few more.

“People say he had the best herd of Holsteins in the country,” Maulsby says.

When he died, in 1940, his sons Fred and Robert took over the operation and teamed up with Iowa State University scientists to create a blue cheese that could hold its own against smelly imports like Stilton and Roquefort. A year later, the Newton team formed its first wheels of blue cheese, shelved them in the cave and let the magic happen.

The farms’ visitor center is closed during the pandemic, but as soon as it reopens, you can stop by to sample and stock up. While you’re in town, swing by the historic Maytag Park or the recently restored Hotel Maytag on the town square.

Twin Bing, Sioux City: Five generations of Palmers have made goodies since Edward Cook “E.C.” Palmer founded the Palmer Candy Co. in 1878.

When candy bars caught on in the 1920s, after soldiers ate them as rations during World War I, the Sioux City company introduced a nougat-filled chocolate ball called the "Bing” in four flavors: vanilla, maple, pineapple and cherry. Later, to accommodate vending machines, the company stuck two Bings together in a single package and the famous Twin Bing was born.

Today only the cherry-flavored Bing is regularly available, but you can gobble up all kinds of treats at Palmer’s Old Tyme Candy Shoppe and learn more about the company’s history at the Sioux City Public Museum.

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