In southeast Iowa, Van Buren County is holding its biggest event of the year this weekend, the annual Scenic Drive Festival. Stacey Reese, executive director of the Villages of Van Buren, says the leaves are beginning to turn.
“We do have a little color but I don’t necessarily think they’re at their peak,” Reese says. “It’s still a beautiful sight. As you drive through our state park, it’s just absolutely gorgeous. We’re really looking forward to a great weekend.” The festival is expected to draw perhaps 20,000 people to the rural county, which contains 11 historic villages and no chain restaurants, big box stores or even stoplights.
“Our Scenic Drive Festival is a county-wide event,” Reese says. “We’ve got arts and crafts and flea markets, barn tours, historic site tours, all kinds of different things going on, car shows, tractor shows. Whatever you’re liking, I think you’ll find it in the Villages of Van Buren this weekend.”
Among the more unusual offerings, the village of Bonaparte is hosting a silent auction featuring 24-inch vintage bride dolls dressed in costume from the Civil War era. “Local people make these elaborate costumes from the 1860s era,” Reese says. “They’re absolutely beautiful and they’re all on display at the Opera House in Bonaparte and you go through and bid on these dolls.”
Keosauqua will hold its Grand Parade starting Saturday morning at 10 with the theme 175 Years of Progress. Other draws include special foods, a photo contest, live music, pioneer-era demonstrations and a quilt show. There’s even Wacky Water Walkerz, sort of “human hamster balls” made so people can get inside and try to walk on water.