‘Is this Heaven?’

‘No. It’s Iowa.’ ~ Field of Dreams

I was a person who left the state of Iowa as soon as I could, heading out to the big city of Washington, DC for undergrad. It took a senior year spring break trip with two of my besties to help me see Iowa with new eyes and lead me to gain an appreciation of my home state. We visited Iowa at the tail end of a blizzard in 2007 and enjoyed the warm hospitality of family and friends who were happy to share a little slice of Iowa with a couple of East Coasters. Even for me, a native Iowan, it was a whole new experience of Iowa.

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In many ways, it is because of that spring break trip that I want to get married in Iowa. It seems like the perfect opportunity to share Iowa and the Midwest with loved ones hailing from elsewhere in the states. Thankfully, Greg, who is Missourian himself, was also interested in bringing our loved ones to the Midwest.

Greg and I want to ensure that people enjoy their Iowa experience. In addition to the scheduled weekend events, we will be suggesting other sites, attractions, and events to check out. Below, I have listed some initial suggestions and will post about more as I think of them. Also, feel free to reach out to Iowan native and good friend Kenny (kenneth.kahl@gmail.com) if you have something specific you are looking for.

Iowa State Fair

You haven’t really been to a state fair until you’ve been to a state fair in the Midwest. Complete with livestock, pickling & baking contests, butter cows, food on a stick, rides, and more, the Iowa State Fair is a tradition you don’t want to miss! The Iowa State Fair is being held August 8-18, 2013 in Des Moines, Iowa. A long time ago, I used to compete in gymnastics at the state fair and one of my favorite foods at the fair was the salt water taffy.

Des Moines Art Center

My brother Matt is an art enthusiast who lives in Des Moines and as such I have become very familiar with the Des Moines Art Center over the years. Don’t let this small art center deceive you; within are some amazing gems. Some of my favorites include Francis Bacon Study after Velázquez’s Portrait of Pope Innocent X, Edward Hopper Automat, and Anselm Kiefer Untitled. Also, don’t miss the Pappajohn Sculpture Park in downtown Des Moines with an impressive collection of contemporary sculpture.

Omaha Henry Doorly Zoo

So not actually in Iowa, nevertheless, the Omaha Zoo is a great family friendly place to visit with an indoor rainforest, desert dome, nocturnal animal exhibit, Madagascar exhibit, aquarium, and so much more. Of all the animals at the zoo, my favorite when I was younger was the peacock.

Joslyn Art Museum

I was introduced to art at the Joslyn Art Museum located in Omaha, Nebraska. The first art exhibit I remember my parents taking me to was at the Joslyn, an exhibit of Iowan artist Grant Wood which included his famous American Gothic. Following that was a Degas exhibit (the plaster cast of the Little Dancer is a part of the permanent collection at the Joslyn). The building itself is an impressive pink marble art deco creation. The museum will have on exhibit at the time of the wedding, Renior to Chagall: Paris and the Allure of Color.

Dunlap, Iowa

Bonsall Appliance Show Floor in 1946

Bonsall Appliance Show Floor in 1946

Dunlap, a town of just over one thousand, is my beloved hometown. If you happen to go through, check out my dad’s store Bonsall TV & Appliance, first opened by my grandfather and my two uncles in the mid-1940s. Stop by Main Street Cakes & Gifts which serves very tasty breakfast rolls (and has an old fashion soda fountain where my grandma used to treat us grandkids with ‘phosphate sodas’). While there, grab a pork tenderloin at the Dairy Sweet (rated the Best Tenderloin in Iowa in 2005).

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For more ideas about what to see and do, visit the following map:

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