A popular tourist spot for many decades in northwest Iowa is celebrating its centennial this weekend. The Grotto of the Redemption in West Bend is hosting a variety of activities through Sunday.

Darcie Kramer is the executive director of the historic attraction. Kramer says the grotto is a compilation of nine different grottoes that was built by a priest, starting 100 years ago.

“He collected rocks, minerals, fossils, petrifications, all kinds of different specimens from all over the world,” she says. “They were brought here to West Bend and put together by hand. Each of these nine grottoes has statues in them made of marble from Italy and they all represent different scenes from the life of Christ.”

Kramer says the Grotto still attracts tourists from afar. “We can see anywhere from 20 to 30,000 in a year, depending on what’s going on in the year,” she says. “It used to be a lot more than that, of course, in the days where this was the type of trip that you took, but with people going off to Disneyworld and those kinds of vacations, we usually see around that 20, 25 to 30,000 mark.”

Kramer says some of tonight’s activities include a speaker and live music. “We have Sean Dalton coming in as a youth speaker and then will be Remedy Drive, a Christian rock band, originally out of Omaha,” she says.

Other activities include a parade, a walking pilgrimage, a silent auction, movies and an art show. The Grotto is open every day of the year. For more information, call 800-868-3641 or visit:  www.westbendgrotto.com.

By Pat Powers, KQWC, Webster City