A county in southeast Iowa is hoping to rake in tourists by celebrating the colors of the autumn leaves this weekend.
Stacey Reese, executive director of the Villages of Van Buren County, says it’s the ideal time to hop in the car and take in the leaves — and a host of other attractions.
“The Scenic Drive Festival is our biggest event of the year,” Reese says. “It encompasses our entire county, that’s 11 different small communities, all doing different activities and fun events all weekend long.” Just like other Iowa towns are sometimes at the mercy of the weather for events like the Tulip Time Festival in Pella, she says the county’s merchants were hoping for good color in the leaves.
“A few weeks ago, when it was so dry, I was afraid we weren’t going to have any leaves at all and then we started getting rain,” Reese says. “They’re just starting to turn color. We’re going to have color. It’s going to be pretty regardless. Any time of year is beautiful in Van Buren County.” Each of the county’s towns is hosting events this Saturday and Sunday, focused on arts and crafts, garage sales, flea markets — and much more.
“We have one of the Midwest’s largest turtle farms that’s going to be open this weekend,” Reese says. “It’s simply fascinating and the kids love it. Car shows, tractors shows, historic barn tours, we even have a historic cemetery tour.” For anyone who hasn’t visited Van Buren County, Reese says the area has a slower speed and a laid-back style all its own.
“We are truly a step back in time,” Reese says. “We have no stoplights in the entire county. There are no fast food restaurants, no large retail box stores. We have ma-and-pa restaurants, locally-owned shops and lots of good old-fashioned hospitality.” The festival is held rain or shine. There is no admission fee. Learn more at: www.villagesofvanburen.com or call 800-868-7822.