This weekend: haunted manors, wacky sculptures and football
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Mapletown Manor gets decked out in its Halloween bestyou should too. Photo: Mapletown Manor

Where to gather your ghouls to celebrate Halloween

1. Candlelight tours at Mapletown Manor in Osage offer a spine-tingling experience from noon to 8 p.m. this Saturday. Built in the 1850s, the mansion houses a speakeasy and home-goods boutique, where you might run into the ghosts that allegedly live there. The tours are family-friendly, and costumes are wholly encouraged. No RSVP needed.

2. Of course, if you’d rather get chased by chainsaw-wielding clowns, try the Boji Scare in Arnolds Park this Friday and Saturday night. Starting at sunset, you can tour the haunted maze at Arnolds Park Amusement Park then take a blackout ride on the Legend, a historic wooden roller coaster with a harrowing 63-foot drop. Younger thrill-seekers can enjoy the Little Kids Walkthrough beginning an hour before sundown, when they can explore spooky inflatables.

3. Become a supernatural sleuth at the inaugural Ghosts of Washington event with Riverside Iowa Paranormal. Choose from three levels of tickets to explore historic Washington locations, including the former town hall and a haunted hotel. If you dare, stick around for a sleepover at the world’s oldest operating theater, where performers who refused to leave the stage put on a ghostly show. The haunting begins at 5 p.m. Saturday.

4. Villains get a bad rep, but Alisabeth Von Presley is here to change that. At 8 p.m. Friday, the pop rock artist hosts her annual Halloween Bash at the Ideal Theater & Bar in Cedar Rapids. Guests are encouraged to dress as their favorite Disney villains (or any costume that suits their fancy) to dance the night away in this 21-plus venue. Von Presley and opening act Fishbait will be playing the spookiest tunes in their repertoire. Tickets are available online.

A current menu feature is the kimchi Ruben, made with house smoked turkey, kimchi kraut, Russian dressing, Swiss cheese and cafe rye bread, served with chips and a pickle spear. Photo: The Café

Poke around Ames for game day fun

If you’re heading to Jack Trice Stadium next Saturday, Nov. 4, to watch Iowa State host the University of Kansas, be sure to schedule some extra time to explore the rest of Ames. There’s plenty to see and do beyond the bustling Iowa State campus.

On the north end of town, find plenty of places to grab a bite. The Café on Northridge Parkway offers a seasonal menu, and nearby you’ll find both Brick City Grill and Wallaby’s Bar and Grille, a mainstay since 1988.

For liquid refreshments, take your pick from Alluvial Brewing Co. or Prairie Moon Winery & Vineyards, two side-by-side properties just beyond the northern city limits with beer, wine, seltzers and root beer. Both places have plenty of seating inside and out, with expansive views of the surrounding countryside.

Win or lose, make sure to stop at Marmalade Moon for house-made ice cream after the game. They rotate flavors so there’s always something new and fresh. This fall, for example, you can savor scoops of pumpkin spice latte or Earl Grey tea ice cream.

Okaidja Afroso comes to Oskaloosa through Arts Midwest's World Fest, which tours international musicians to Midwestern communities. Photo: Paapa Kwaku Oduro

This weekend, Ghana’s Okaidja Afroso serenades Iowa

Okaidja Afroso is bringing his guitar all the way from Ghana to perform songs of love, longing and the sea at 7 p.m. this Saturday in Oskaloosa at the George Daily Community Auditorium.

Afroso’s early career as a celebrated dancer is honored all through his genre-defying music, with lively percussion and call-and-response lyrics that will get even the most reluctant audience grooving. Although the musician performs in his native tongue, the rich emotion in his ballads transcends language.

Afroso comes from a long line of musicians. His mother was called the “spiritual singer” for her emphatic performances of gospel music, while his uncle took a comedic route, instead using his notorious musical talents to roast the people in their small fishing village.

Saturday’s concert comes after Afroso held a week of workshops in Oskaloosa, hosted by Arts Midwest's World Fest. The program connects international musicians with midwestern audiences, most of them in rural communities. Tickets for the concert can be purchased at the door or online.
Learn about the distilling and barreling process during your whiskey tasting. Photo: Wildcat Distilling Co.

Taste whiskey from local distiller in Webster City

Looking to liven up your ‎Old Fashioned with some new whiskey knowledge?

The folks at Wildcat Distilling Co. in Webster City host whiskey tastings on the first Saturday of every month. The next one, on Nov. 4, includes a presentation about the distillation process and the various products it yields. Each program lasts about an hour. Sign up for a time slot between noon and 2:30 p.m., and afterwards, hang out in their cozy tasting room to sample more cocktails or purchase your favorite bottle.

Photo: Getty Images

In Hancock, behold the Bison bison bison!

Herd the big news? National Bison Day is Nov. 4.

To celebrate the mighty beast (scientific name: Bison bison bison), head to the third annual Bison Fest set for 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at Botna Bend Park in Hancock. If you go, you’ll get to see the local herd, learn about their symbiotic relationship with the prairie and even try spinning a bit of bison wool. Plus, you can try your hand at various prehistoric activities, like tossing a spear-like atlatl and chipping flint into a handy tool.

And don’t worry if your atlatl or arrowhead doesn’t help you hunt up lunch. Gatherers will find plenty to eat from local vendors. Twenty-first century civilization has its perks.

In ia magazine, check out six other spots to see bison, along with plans for a bridge for bison (and people) across the Mississippi River.

Sara and Jim Anderson tend gardens on their 50-acre farm in Jefferson County. Photo: Emily Kestel

Fairfield couple map out a sustainable future for their land

Writer: Emily Kestel

Sara and Jim Anderson own Anderson Prairie Farm in Fairfield, where they’ve lived since 2013. She is from Texas, and he is from northern Ireland. Sara studied conservation and natural resources in college before teaching transcendental meditation for several decades with Jim. After they retired, they decided to plant their roots on an acreage, close to water and with enough space to build their own home with their own hands and grow enough food to sustain themselves.

The number of vegetables, herbs, berries and other edible plants grown on the farm is endless. There are the usual onions, rhubarb, garlic, potatoes, peas, carrots, beans, celery, lettuce, spinach, broccoli, cucumbers, cabbages, asparagus and kale. Then there are a few serviceberries, currants, gooseberries, aronia berries and other fruit bushes. In fact, she and her husband Jim go to the grocery store only for milk, cheese, butter and bulk items.

This, she said, is the dream. If only more of the state were like this. More natural, she said. More regenerative.

About 85% of land in Iowa is farmed, yet roughly 90% of the food eaten by Iowans is produced out of state.

In 2021, the Andersons worked with the Sustainable Iowa Land Trust to place an easement on their land, protecting roughly 36 of their 50 acres from future development that would upend the Anderson’s regenerative farming efforts. Sara hopes their decision to protect their land will inspire others to do the same.

This story originally appeared in our latest Iowa Stops Hunger magazine. Read the full version 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.

Volkwagen Beetle Spider in Avoca. Photo: Council Bluffs CVB

Book reveals some of Iowa’s stranger secrets

As a lifelong Iowan, Business Record columnist Dave Elbert knows a lot about Iowa. But even he learned a few things from a book called “Secret Iowa: A Guide to the Weird, Wonderful and Obscure.” It was written by Megan Bannister, a Chicago native who moved to Des Moines more than a decade ago to study journalism at Drake University and stayed.

Elbert noted a few highlights in a recent column, including the “usual Iowa suspects” like Albert the Bull in Audubon, Snake Alley in Burlington and the Fenelon Place Elevator in Dubuque. He also wrote about:
  • Iowa’s “wacky arachnid,” a spider sculpture that consists of the body of a Volkswagen Beetle held aloft by eight legs of welded steel pipe in Avoca.
  • A 60-foot stack of 200 rusted wagon wheels that resemble a giant menorah in Grinnell.
  • A pink fiberglass elephant that took a ride on giant skis before it was installed outside the Pink Elephant Supper Club in Marquette.

Elbert’s column also mentions the infamous Cardiff Giant, a 19th-century hoax that was carved out of chunk of Fort Dodge gypsum, touted as an ancient relic in a touring shows and stored for decades in the home of former Des Moines Register publisher Gardner Cowles, whose son and his grade-school buddies “smashed a delicate part of the giant’s anatomy with a hammer.” The original Cardiff Giant ended up in Cooperstown, New York, but you can see a replica – a fake of a fake -- at the Fort Museum and Frontier Village in Fort Dodge.
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