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Friday, May 6, 2016

Iowa offers a bumper crop of ag-related tourism attractions and events

Wednesday, February 27, 2002

Iowa's proud history of farm production translates into interesting experiences for visitors at farm history museums and events across the state. Learn more about traditional agriculture and enjoy old-time events to celebrate Iowa's past.

- At Living History Farms in Urbandale, visitors can spend several hours immersed in the history of Iowa farm life, at settings representing five time periods spanning 300 years. At the Ioway Indian village, a pioneer farm of the 1850s, the 1875 town of Walnut Hill, and the 1900s horse farm, costumed interpreters live the lives and demonstrate the skills of early Iowans. A multi-media theater production depicts the history of 20th century farming. Seasonal events include an old-fashioned Fourth of July celebration, harvest activities, and historical holiday dinners.

- Iowan Henry A. Wallace served as U.S. Vice President under Franklin D. Roosevelt, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, U.S. Secretary of Commerce and was the founder of Pioneer Hi-Bred International. He is remembered as a pioneer in the development of hybrid corn, and the father of modern agricultural policy. At the Henry A. Wallace Country Life Center in Greenfield, a 40-acre outdoor interpretive site recognizes Wallace's philosophies, ideas and achievements through artwork, gardens, orchard, prairie, row crops and walking trail. The birthplace home has been restored to the late 19th century period, and includes exhibits about Wallace's achievements.

- The shrill whistle of a steam engine calls visitors to the annual Midwest Old Threshers Reunion in Mount Pleasant, where you can step into the era of steam-powered threshing with numerous working antique machines, a sawmill, and a fully restored 1894 carousel. The Midwest Central Railroad fires up its steam trains to carry passengers around the grounds to see antique cars and trucks, horse-powered equipment, and free entertainment provided by dozens of artists. Join a hymn sing or spelling bee, and partake of a hearty country dinner. The Old Threshers Reunion takes place each Labor Day weekend.

- Also in Mount Pleasant, the Midwest Old Threshers Heritage Museums are open for visitors to view scores of steam tractors and stationary engines, antique tractors, agricultural implements and tools during the spring, summer and fall. Exhibits feature a farm house, barn and mill, and educational displays on the use of water and electricity. An exhibit on farm women past and present is also highlighted.

- In south central Iowa, the Nelson Pioneer Farm in Oskaloosa features an entire complex of historic buildings. See the 1853 brick home, an 1856 barn listed on the National Register of Historic Places, a log cabin meeting house, one-room school, country store, voting house, post office, stagecoach stop, blacksmith building and machine shed.

- On 80 working acres, the Carstens 1880 Farmstead in Shelby illustrates farm life in the late 1880s with a home sporting period furnishings, machinery, tools and artifacts. A two-day farm show held the weekend after Labor Day features steam threshing, antique machinery parade, crafts, food and entertainment.

- The Garst Farm Resorts in rural Coon Rapids gives visitors one of the best agricultural experiences in Iowa. In addition to miles of hiking, mountain biking and horse riding trails, the resort offers a range of accommodations including a rustic cabin that sleeps several or a quaint home-style bed and breakfast, perfect for a relaxing night away from the hustle and bustle. Buffalo roam over the 4,500-acre private preserve, which is also home to a private family farm that welcomes visitors.

- Don't forget our local Albert City Threshemen and Collector's show each summer, a three-day celebration of northwest Iowa's agrarian heritage.

- Shawna Lode is a local native now working with the Iowa Division of Tourism.