Upcoming Wood, Wine, and Blues Festival Includes Family Friendly Events

Beaver Wood Carving
The beaver wood carving welcomes people to the campus of Buena Vista University. This is just one of the more than 26 tree sculptures in Storm Lake.

Every town has something that sets it apart from others, something that makes it unique and special. Storm Lake, Iowa has more than one of those things. From the community’s ethnic diversity to the beautiful lake and the enormous lighthouse welcoming visitors to town, Storm Lake is unique in so many ways.

One of the other fun things found in the lake town includes more than 26 tree sculptures! Where else can you find that many unique pieces of art made from trees scattered throughout a community? And, to sweeten the deal, there is an entire weekend devoted to creating more of these wooden gems!

The annual Wood, Wine, and Blues Festival will be held August 14-16, 2015 at Sunset Park in Storm Lake. The three day event hosts wood carving competitions, a triathlon, wine and arts in the park, a beer making demonstration, music, and a mini golf tournament. To find the full schedule of events, click here.

Reading the Tree Sculpture Map
The girls had fun reading the map and finding the next tree sculpture. They said it was like finding treasures. Indeed it was!

While this event has a lot of adult fun, there is plenty for kiddos to enjoy. Watching the chainsaw masters magically change a block of wood into a work of art is entertaining for people of all ages. It is amazing to see what emerges from the sawdust. On a recent Girls Adventure, my girls and I took a self-guided tour around Storm Lake to find as many of the tree sculptures as we could.

We stopped at Storm Lake United and picked up a brochure that included a list and map of current tree sculptures. With the map in hand, we ventured throughout the city in search of the the beautiful tree carvings. Many of them are grouped together, so chances are you won’t have to go far to find several of them. In less than a mile loop around Buena Vista University’s campus and surrounding neighborhoods, we found 6 tree sculptures, including one that isn’t even on the map yet! We look forward to seeing even more of these one-of-a-kind treasures be created at the Wood, Wine, and Blues Festival!

Hy Noon Kiwanis Triathlon
In past years, we have had fun watching the swimmers in the lake and cheering on the athletes at the Hy-Noon Kiwanis Triathlon.

The Hy-Noon Kiwanis Triathlon  is another great family event on Saturday, August 15. While not everyone may be up for a 800 meter swim, 12.63 mile bike ride, and 3.1 mile run, the triathlon is fun to watch. Cheering on the athletes is a great way for families to get involved and support a great cause at the same time. The Hy-Noon Kiwanis Club uses the proceeds from the event to help eliminate MNT (maternal and neonatal tetanus). To get more information, click here.

Pirates’ Pointe Mini Golf Course is sponsoring the Captain’s Cup Miniature Golf Tournament on Sunday, August 16. Kids up to age 16 play for prizes including cash, Pirates’ Pointe certificates, waterpark passes, and a TV. It is sure to be a day full of fun for many kiddos and their families. Check out King’s Pointe’s Facebook page for further details.

There will be something for everyone in Storm Lake August 14-16, 2015. Be sure to check out the Wood, Wine, and Blues Festival activities along with all the other great things that make Storm Lake, Iowa special! While you’re there, pick up a map and challenge yourself, your family, or a group of friends to find all the wood sculptures in town. You’ll see for yourself just how phenomenal these sculptures really are!

Making Memories on a Family Day Trip to the Iowa Great Lakes

We found many adventures in the Iowa Great Lakes! My family spent a whole day exploring the area and taking in many sights and activities. Here are the top 5 things we would recommend to other families:

1. Treasure Village

At Treasure Village Mini Golf
The girls loved the fairytale themed mini golf at Treasure Village-they played all 27 holes with anticipation to see what story was next.

Treasure Village has been hosting family fun in Okoboji for 43 years! Flea markets, mini golf, and family-friendly theater performances take place on their grounds. We surprised the girls with a trip to see the musical performance, Rupunzel. Other shows this summer include Rumpelstiltskin and Jack & the Beanstock. They loved the show and the addition of a rabbit and turtle to the storyline. The interactive show was great for families and their popcorn was some of the best concession popcorn we’ve had (we eat a lot of popcorn, so that’s saying something!). After the show, the girls were able to meet the cast and take pictures with them. The characters took time to chat with the girls a bit before we tried our hand at the 27-hole mini golf course. Each hole at the kid-friendly course was decorated to fit a children’s movie or fairytale. We all golfed well, with each of us getting a hole in one! The girls proudly wore the princess crowns they received after turning in their putters. We look forward to hearing the show lineup for next summer!

2. Gull Point State Park

Lake Girl
This little gal had fun finding dandelions at Gull Point State Park. We loved the view during our picnic.

We worked up an appetite while golfing at Treasure Village and were ready to have a picnic lunch. Not being very familiar with the area, we drove around and followed a sign for Gull Point State Park, hoping to find a picnic table or shelter house. We found something even better-a big free standing swing overlooking the lake. The swing was made for our family of four! We enjoyed our lunch while watching boaters below. I could have sat in that relaxing spot all day. We walked the grounds after our lunch and discovered a nice sandy beach. The water shimmered in the sun and looked very inviting! We weren’t prepared for a swimming adventure though and decided we’d find some fun on the other side of the lake.

3. Arnolds Park Amusement Park

Arnolds Park Fun
The girls loved the rides at Arnolds Park Amusement Park!

Our next stop was Arnolds Park Amusement Park. This park began with a lone water slide into the lake 125 years ago, and amid a few setbacks, is still going strong. It was amazing to think we were spending time at such an iconic location. Since we didn’t plan to spend the entire day there, we chose to put a certain amount of money on a pass to use as we rode rides instead of buying day passes for unlimited rides. This seemed to work well for our family. The girls each got to ride 5 rides and went through the Tipsy House and Mirror Maze several times before they were ready to find some air conditioning. They loved the thrill of the rides and even wanted to try the bigger rides. Next summer, when both girls meet the height requirements without standing on tippy-toes, we may just have to buy all day passes so we can experience as many thrills as our hearts desire!

4. Iowa Great Lakes Maritime Museum

Iowa Great Lakes Maritime Museum
So much history was crammed into the Maritime Museum. The replica of Okoboji Store was a super fun find.

We took reprieve from the 100 degree weather in the Iowa Great Lakes Maritime Museum. The museum is near the amusement park, so we didn’t have far to go. It is full of antique boats and rare artifacts. Ride parts and souvenirs from Arnolds Park’s earlier years are showcased as well. Those were my girls’ favorite things to see. A reproduction of the “Okoboji Store” was also fun for them to explore. Inside, they played a mean game of checkers. Neither of them quite knew the rules so it was very comical. The museum was full of learning opportunities for people of all ages. There is no entry fee for the museum and tours are available upon request. After a rest in the air, we decided to take a drive around the lake before heading home.

5. Dickinson County Nature Center

Checking out the bees at the Dickinson County Nature Center.

We enjoyed our leisurely drive through the lakes’ neighborhoods. Just as we were going to head out of town we saw a sign for the Dickinson County Nature Center. So we stopped to see what it was all about. We got there are 3:43 PM. It closed at 4:00 PM. We did a quick tour inside to see the bees, turtles, and a replica of an osprey nest before heading outside to explore a bit. An outdoor deck and beautiful landscaping overlooked a path that is a part of a larger trail system around the lakes. While we were only there for 15 minutes, we saw a lot of neat things. It is definitely a place we want to explore more. The Dickinson County Nature Center could provide several hours of fun and adventures!

There are many more fun adventures waiting for you in the Iowa Great Lakes! We couldn’t fit much more in our day, so you could easily fill an entire weekend or even week full of family fun. If you are looking for adult only-adventures you’ll find plenty of those too! It would be a super great location for a date night, getaway, or family reunion. But don’t take my word for it, go check out the area yourself and create your own adventures in the Iowa Great Lakes!

Roadside Stop in Elma, Iowa

Elma Iowa's Covered Bridge
This covered bridge in Elma, Iowa welcomed us to town and made us want to stop to find out more about the quaint little town!

Impromptu roadside stops are so much fun! While on a recent trip to Northeast Iowa, we stumbled upon the town of Elma. A quaint covered bridge over the road in the center of town caught my attention. A row of flags and an old school house near the bridge heightened my curiosity. I just had to explore this town of nearly 600 people by foot rather than from car window! Although we were anxious to reach our destination, we enjoyed our unplanned stop.

We discovered that this nicely landscaped area on Busti Avenue is Elma’s Old Roundhouse Trailhead & Welcome Center. The trail is a part of a larger trail system connecting many counties. Signage on the grounds explains more about the trail and where it leads. Had we had more time or bicycles, we would have loved to check out the trails ourselves! The Welcome Center had a well-kept bathroom, vending machine full of snacks, as well as a covered seating area for those using the trails.

Bicycle Boy Statue in Elma, Iowa
This statue and the School House Museum in the background are part of Elma’s Old Roundhouse Trailhead and Welcome Center.

The School House Museum and the nearby Depot Museum are full of Elma history and memorabilia. They are open on Sunday from 2-4 or by special appointment. We weren’t able to see inside either building, but if you plan to be in the Elma area, call ahead to make arrangements. The buildings look fascinating and fun.

My girls loved all the statues and benches located on the grounds and insisted on having pictures with all of them. The trail led us to the covered bridge, which was fun to walk through and watch cars drive below. The bridge, complete with window boxes of flowers, is full of charm. A beautiful Veteran’s Memorial sat on the other side of the bridge.

Elma also has a well-kept ball field and city park. The park looks perfect for picnics and playing. If we find ourselves in this area again, we will definitely pack a picnic and plan to stay awhile to find adventures and create memories.

Elma, Iowa
Elma, Iowa is a great place to visit!

Elma’s motto is ‘A Great Place to Visit… A Better Place to Live…’ It is apparent that community members are proud to call Elma home and do a wonderful job making the town a great place to visit. We sure enjoyed our little stop there! Check out the City of Elma website and Facebook to learn more about what the town has to offer. Elma is full of Small Town Iowa fun!


Bully Bullhead Weekend: Small Town Iowa Fun in Ruthven-Lost Island Lake, Iowa

Bully Bullhead Car Show
The girls picking their favorite car for the ‘People’s Choice Award’ at the car show.

Bully Bullhead Weekend 2015 is in the books! What in the world is Bully Bullhead Weekend, you ask? Well, it is celebration in Ruthven, Iowa full of Small Town Iowa Fun. While our family spends a lot of time near Ruthven at Lost Island Lake each summer, we’ve never participated in annual Bully Bullhead festivities. This year we changed things up a bit to see what this weekend is all about.

We missed out on Friday’s festivities which included a tractor ride, basketball tournaments, library program, food, kids pedal pull, and a teen dance. Saturday was full of even more activities. A 5K, 10K, and Fun Run took place in the morning along with a fishing contest with tagged bullheads (the lake is full of those whiskered creatures-hence the name of the celebration). Antique tractors and cars were on show, a bean bags tournament took place, and mini donuts and sno cones were consumed. We made it to town in time for the parade.

Bully Bullhead Parade
The parade was just the right length and had many fun floats celebrating the area.

The parade was close to forty-five minutes long and was full of floats from area businesses. Candy was tossed along with other goodies. Some of our favorite floats were a bulldog in a wagon with the tag “Bully the BullDOG,” a small train, and a group of Shriners from Spencer, Iowa. The Shriners were visible from far away in their little yellow cars. As they got closer, the crowd was in awe of the driving tricks this group did on the street. It was fun to watch them quickly weave around each other and then suddenly stop. It made me wonder how many fender benders happen during practice!

After the parade, activities took place all around town including an antique tractor rodeo, and pony and wagon rides. The day rounded out with a street dance downtown and fireworks at Huston Beach. We enjoyed the fireworks from across the lake with s’mores and pjs.

Sunday mornings at Lost Island means pancakes at the Ruthven Legion Hall, and this weekend was no different. We had some of the world’s greatest pancakes (there will be a post about this fabulous attraction another day) before spending more time by the lake and taking refuge from the heat in the cool water.

Parade Time Fun
She got her favorite candy! We all had a lot of fun at Bully Bullhead Weekend and are looking forward to enjoying even more activities next year!

Bully Bullhead Weekend wasn’t over for some folks though. Sunday had just as many activities as the rest of the weekend, including a co-ed volleyball tournament, trap shoot, progressive organ recital, and an ice cream social at a local church. While a fishing tournament was a part of the festivities, it seemed like celebrating the community and having fun were main stage. There was something for everyone to do in the small town of Ruthven, where the water tower is painted like a fishing bobber (I hope I’m not the only one who noticed this!).

While we didn’t take in all the activities, we enjoyed Small Town Iowa fun at the car show, parade, fireworks, and pancake breakfast. We’ll have plenty of new things to see and do next year at the 24th annual Bully Bullhead Weekend!

‘Give our Shores a Spin’ During RAGBRAI 2015

RAGBRAI Countdown Bike
RAGBRAI Countdown Bike after the 4th of July Parade in Storm Lake, Iowa. You never know where you may find the bike before the RAGBRAI riders arrive in town!

RAGBRAI is just around the corner! And if you live in Iowa, you’ve most likely been hearing about The Register’s Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa for quite some time now. The week-long bike ride will bring more than 20,000 people to several towns across Iowa.

This year, the droves of people (and bicycles) will arrive in Sioux City, Iowa on July, 18th for an evening of entertainment and fun. The other overnight stops include Storm Lake, Fort Dodge, Eldora, Cedar Falls, Hiawatha, and Iowa River Landing/Coralville before ending in Davenport on the 25th.

The the first day of riding just happens to end in the town we live in, so it is hard to ignore the hype surrounding this event that is 42 years strong. The preparations are in the final stages. Food, entertainment, showers, and housing for the night have been arranged. Check out the Storm Lake RAGBRAI website or facebook page for even more details.

The countdown is on-literally! A huge metal bicycle has been spotted around Storm Lake with signage counting down the days until the bicyclists arrive in our town. It’s been fun to see where we spot this bike. We’ve found it at Kings Pointe Resort, the 4th of July Parade, Downtown Storm Lake, and in the Hy-Vee parking lot. You’ll have to go for a drive around town to see where it will be next!

RAGBRAI Windmill Blade
This painted windmill blade welcomes bicyclists and other RAGBRAI goers to Storm Lake.

We’ve also found a windmill blade near Highway 110 by the Little Storm Lake Discovery Center painted for the occasion. The Witter Gallery has an art show going on now through July 31, consisting of locally created bicycle art of all kinds. My girls have entered their own glittery bike paintings for all to see. Be sure to check out all the art before it’s gone!

So, if find yourself driving (or riding) across the great state of Iowa July 18-25, keep an eye out for extra bikes on the road. Make sure you stop along the way and join in on the Small Town Iowa fun and hospitality. Check here for RAGBRAI’s 2015 route and here for the Storm Lake entertainment schedule. Bring on the bikes, Storm Lake is ready for our RAGBRAI friends to ‘Give our Shores a Spin!’

Relay For Life: Spreading Hope in Buena Vista County, Iowa

Relay for LifeHOPE. The shirts for the 2015 Relay for Life have this message front and center. Those who attend a Relay for Life fundraising event sponsored by the American Cancer Society this year will be reminded that there is HOPE-hope for a cure, hope for survival, hope that less people have to hear the word ‘cancer.’

Cancer is a very personal thing for my family and me, like it is for so many of you. We were first introduced to the Relay for Life in Carroll County, Iowa in 1998, after my younger brother was diagnosed with cancer. Since then, the Relay has become a part of my summer ritual. The Relay for Life took on an even deeper meaning after I was diagnosed with cancer in 2000, at the age of 16. Although the county I now Relay in is different, the cause is very much the same. For me, it is a celebration. It is on the track that I am reminded over and over again about my many blessings.

Carroll County Relay for Life 2005
My siblings, me, and our significant others at the Carroll County Relay for Life in 2005-10 years ago, before any of us were married. This is one of my all-time favorite Relay for Life photos!

For others, the Relay for Life is a time of healing. A time of remembering loved ones who lost their lives due to cancer. The Relay for Life is here to provide HOPE that someday there will be more celebrating and fewer tears. The money raised at these events is used for cancer research and programming to support those affected by cancer.

This year, I attended the Relay for Life in Buena Vista County in late June at Tornado Field in Storm Lake, Iowa. The event kicked-off with a meal at 5 PM and lasted until after dark. A survivors lap honored those who have fought or were currently fighting a battle against cancer. Luminaries in honor or memory of those touched by cancer lined the track to be lit at dusk. Entertainment and games were also available throughout the evening.

I wasn’t able to stay long at this year’s Relay for Life, but I made sure I walked a few laps. I walked for my family members, friends, and strangers all touched by cancer. I walked for me. This year, I celebrated being cancer free for 14 ½ years!

Relay for Life
Spreading HOPE at the Relay for Life 2015. Make plans to attend an event in 2016!

If you haven’t been to a Relay for Life, please go, and check it out at least once. You don’t have to be part of a team to participate, but if you are up to the challenge, get a group of friends together to make a difference in the lives of others. You can find additional information and a list of Relay for Life events near you here. Get out there, raise money if you can, and walk to create HOPE that someday we will live in a world without cancer.

Meeting Local Heros at Cool Down with the Cops


Posing with Lieutenant Cole
Lieutenant Cole from the SLPD and my girls at the Cool off with the Cops event at Tropical Sno.

Many smiles and ‘Thank Yous’ were shared at the ‘Cool Down with the Cops’ event sponsored by the Storm Lake Police Department on June 30, 2015. For an hour in the afternoon, members of the SLPD were on hand at Tropical Sno in downtown Storm Lake to discuss community issues, field questions, and cool off with locals. Free sno cones were given out to those who stopped by.

This event appeared to be a hit. Many children and families lined up for the sno cones and opportunities to chat with the officers. My girls were super excited to see police officers up close and personal and have their photo taken with Lieutenant Cole. It was great to see so many children (and adults) excited to mingle with the people who work hard day in and day out to protect our beautiful city.

Addie petting Cesar
Officer Schuchhardt and Cesar were a big hit with the kids at the Cool off with the Cops Event.

Officer Schuchhardt and his K-9 partner, Cesar, made an appearance and heightened the excitement with the children. The children had the opportunity to pet Cesar and share their love with him. Meeting members of the SLPD, seeing Cesar, and cooling off with sno cones were the highlights of our day. It is something the girls will be talking about for days to come.

Thank you to Tropical Sno for working hard to make the yummy sno cones. Thank you SLPD for inviting the community to spend the afternoon with you. You are this community’s heros. Thank you for all you do!

If you missed this event, there are plenty of ways to connect with our local police department. Check out SLPD’s Facebook page for upcoming Neighborhood Outreach and Coffee with a Cop opportunities. If you live outside of Storm Lake, contact your local police department to find a community outreach event near you. Get out there, and meet your local heros!


Free Fishing = Family Fun

Ready to Fish
Getting ready to fish at the Gone Fish’n Fishing Derby in Storm Lake, Iowa.

“Here fishy, fishy!” Kids of all ages were uttering these words on Sunday, June 7, 2015 at a fishing derby hosted by Gone Fish’n. This free event was held at Frank Starr Park in Storm Lake, Iowa for kids ages 3 to 13 in conjunction with Iowa’s Free Fishing Weekend. The event advertised free food, bait, prizes, and free fishing poles for the first 65 kids. While this was the first year Gone Fish’n hosted such an event, I hope it becomes an annual family tradition for years to come.

My girls were super excited to go fishing. We gathered our sunscreen, fishing poles, and camera and set out on a great fishing adventure. Our family is full of novice fishers, so our load was light. Next time I would bring the following items: Lawn chairs, bug spray, and hand wipes. (Some people also brought buckets for seats or to carry home their catch of the day.) I was able to scrounge up an almost empty can of bug spray and a couple wet wipes in our car once we got there, but having them at the beginning of our expedition would have been handy!

Shore of Storm Lake
The shore of Storm Lake was packed with families excited to go fishing.

We arrived at the park shortly before 2 PM. The free fishing poles were gone, and the amount of families lining the shore already was amazing. Later, we found out that a whopping 97 free fishing poles were given away to excited children!

The girls signed in and were given a cup of wiggly worms. We found a spot along the shore and got busy untangling fishing lines and baiting hooks. We threw out our lines and intently watched the pink and white bobbers for any sign of movement. We watched, and watched, and watched. “This is no use,” sighed one of my girls. She reeled in the line to check for signs of life. The worm still dangled from the hook. With a determined mind, she threw out the line again and waited. And waited some more.

Watching Bobbers
Making memories while watching bobbers for signs of movement!

A little girl next to us caught a fish, and excitement mounted. We chatted and watched the boat traffic on the lake. A jet ski made waves nearby. A family of curious geese swam by to check out the excitement. Our bobbers stayed in one spot, with no signs of nibbles. After 30 minutes of unsuccessful fishing, tiny little ripples started to appear on the lake, and rain drops slowly began to fall on our heads. Slowly, the sprinkles picked up. It was raining!

Our fishing expedition was over. We packed up and loaded our gear in the car. Some followed suit, while other die-hard fishers weren’t bothered by a little rain. A crowd slowly gathered in the park’s shelter house where a group from Storm Lake’s Grace Lutheran Church had graciously prepared hot dogs, chips, bars, and drinks.

Time for Prizes
This tackle box was a big hit and is now full of all her jewelry!

Prizes were then given away to kids who caught fish and to those who came to give fishing a try. All kids in attendance got a prize of some sort, ranging from lures, fishing nets, and tackle boxes. We went home with a mermaid tackle box, a big bag of bobbers, and fish coloring sheets. The girls loved their prizes and are even more excited to go on another fishing adventure! Despite the rain, Gone Fish’n hosted a great event that led to a lot of Small Town Iowa Fun!

You don’t have to wait for Gone Fish’n to host an event to get in on the fishing fun. The lake in Storm Lake is always ready for anglers of all ages. So, get your pole and tackle and plan an adventure of your own!


Checking out the Calves
My girls checking out the calves at the 2014 Cherokee PRCA Rodeo before the action started.

“This is the best night ever!” yelled one of my girls. She along with the rest of our family had a great time at the Cherokee PRCA Rodeo in Cherokee, Iowa. But, this was her statement before the bull riding and barrel racing even began! The night only got better once the action started.

The Cherokee PRCA Rodeo has become an annual event for our family. We’ve been there three out of the past four summers and haven’t gotten tired of it yet! The rodeo offers three nights of entertainment during the last weekend in May. Next year Cherokee will celebrate 50 years of rodeo, so they know what they are doing when it comes to hosting a good show.

Friendly Goat at the Rodeo
The goats at the petting zoo are one of the highlights of the evening. This photo is from 2014, when the weather was warmer!

The weather was cold and windy this year, and the threat of rain was imminent, but that didn’t stop us from embarking on a family adventure. We brought blankets for snuggling and packed rain ponchos in case of a torrential downpour. We arrived early to get a front row seat and check out the kids activities. The petting zoo was full of friendly goats longing to be fed by excited children. Pony rides and a mower train were also on hand for some good old-fashioned fun. Of course, we had to feed and pet the goats (one of my girls wanted a goat for Christmas last year, so this was amazing for her). The girls were all smiles and giggles as they rode the mower train.

Doughnut Time
Although it doesn’t look like it, this little lady was super excited for doughnuts and wan’t too keen on sharing!

After looking at the hats, purses, and boots at the vendor booths, we made our way to our seats. The smells from the food booths were tantalizing and although we had eaten before we arrived, we had to try the mini doughnuts. They were delightfully warm and full of cinnamon-sugar goodness. By the time our fingers were licked clean, the show was about to start.

The cold kept us in our seats and cuddled together under the blankets rather than on our feet, but with front-row seats we had a good view of the action. Across the board, the cowboys had a rough night. They were quickly bucked, and calves dodged lassos left and right. While some would have been disappointed by the run of bad luck, you wouldn’t have known that with my girls’ reactions. They clapped and cheered for the cowboys and laughed at the rodeo clown. The barrel racers and bull riders were the favorite events of the evening. The glitz and sparkles of the Rodeo Queens and their horses also caught my girls’ eyes. It was fun to see how everyone came together to pull off a great show. Unfortunately, half-way through the bull riders, it started to sprinkle. The rain gradually picked up and it was getting late, so we decided to call it a night. The bulls don’t mind rain, so the show went on for the majority of the crowd.

Staying Warm During the Rodeo
All bundled up and watching the barrel racing at the Cherokee PRCA Rodeo.

Although we were sad the rain cut our evening short and made us miss the traditional end-of-show fireworks display, we had a great time at the rodeo. On the way home, our girls excitedly reminisced about the different events until they couldn’t keep their eyes open. I’m sure the next few weeks will be full of rodeo talk and play at our house. And when my little girl tells me she wants to be a barrel racer or Rodeo Queen when she gets big, I will smile and remember the big fun we had at the small town Iowa rodeo.

Remember to put the 50th Annual Cherokee PRCA Rodeo on your calendar next May. If you can’t wait that long, look for other rodeos in your area. Summer is rodeo season, so check out local town celebrations and fairs to find events close to you. Here are some other tips when planning to go to a rodeo:

  • My Girls with Miss Rodeo Iowa
    My girls with Miss Rodeo Iowa, Rachel Burton in 2012. They look for the new rodeo royalty each year, but nothing will top the first year!

    Check the weather. It can still get cold at night in May. Bring blankets and extra layers if needed. I’m so glad we did this year! The show will go on even if it rains; plan ahead so you can enjoy it in comfort.

  • Arrive early. If you want a front-row seat you will need to stake your claim early. I recommend seats near the front with small children so they can easily stretch their legs (This rodeo is two to three hours long).  We were on the rodeo grounds an hour early and in our seat at least 30 minutes before the action started. When the weather is nice, seats fill up quickly.
  • Check the schedule for special events. Cherokee’s rodeo offers a Family Night on Thursday and a Women’s Night on Friday. If you have children, the Family Night show may be worth checking out due to reduced prices and special activities.
  • Buy doughnuts (or some other not-good-for-you treat), optional. There is something fun and exciting about trying something different or new when you are on an adventure.
  • Visit the royalty. Miss Rodeo Iowa and other rodeo queens are likely to be at local rodeos. They work hard year-long to represent Iowa’s rich Western heritage and are great role-models for future cowgirls. These girls can be found signing autographs and posing for photos prior to the rodeo.
  • Last, but not least, have fun and enjoy the Small Town Iowa Fun that a rodeo brings!

***UPDATE*** The 2016 Cherokee PRCA Rodeo will be held June 2-4.


Fiesta Time!

Dunk Tank at Fiesta Latina
Trying out the Dunk Tank at Fiesta Latina 2015 at Chautauqua Park in Storm Lake Iowa.

It’s time for a Fiesta! Party. Fiesta. Whatever you call it, it is sure to be a good time. On a Saturday afternoon in early May, my girls and I attended Fiesta Latina, an annual festival sponsored by Buena Vista University’s Raices group and had a blast. This family-friendly event celebrating the Latino culture was held at Chautauqua Park in Storm Lake, Iowa. While I’ve known about Fiesta Latina for several years, I’ve never attended. It didn’t take long to see why more than 1,000 community members and BVU students come to this event each year.

Latin music and children’s laughter filled the air. Before I could park the car, my girls spotted an inflatable maze, so we made that our first stop. After some tumbling and climbing, the girls tried their hand at the dunk tank, gunny sack races, and a balloon/dart game. We took a break to watch a talented Mariachi Band before another round of games. All the games were free, and just for participating the girls were given tickets to exchange for prizes. The prize table was right out of a child’s dream. Sidewalk chalk, kites, Barbies, little cars, Elsa dolls, and everything in-between lined several long tables. After a quick lesson on counting and the value of a ticket, the girls decided to share their tickets and walked away with a yo-yo and a Frozen kite. Pretty awesome for a free event!

Balloon/Dart Toss at Fiesta Latina 2015
Throwing darts at balloons-she missed them all but had so much fun trying!

We weren’t able to stay long at Fiesta Latina, so I made a list of activities we’ll have to try next year:

  • Face Painting
  • Crafts (paper flower making, maraca decorating)
  • See the Latin Dancers
  • Try some yummy food (nachos, tacos, and sweet corn)

The students from BVU’s Raises group were friendly and did a great job hosting this event. My girls and I had fun learning about the Latino culture and playing new games. Be sure to look for information about Fiesta Latina in May, 2016.

If you don’t live near Storm Lake, Iowa and want to join the fun, check out the cultural events offered in your area. Colleges, schools, libraries, churches, and historical societies are just a few great places to start looking for ideas.  Big or small, you may find these events are full of small town Iowa fun!