A western Iowa county of just under 12,000 residents has launched a campaign marketing itself as the real-life embodiment of T-V fiction. Ellen Walsh-Rosmann is the first voice you hear in the Shelby County Chamber of Commerce and Industry video. She opened a restaurant in Harlan seven years ago.

“When you walk around the square of Harlan, it feels like a Hallmark movie,” she says.

In the middle of December, the most-watched entertainment cable network was the Hallmark Channel. Its “Countdown to Christmas” movies mostly feature a main character who’s charmed by small town living as a romance blooms. Katie Sandquist, a mental health professional at Harlan’s hospital, is also in the promotional video for Shelby County and references the Hallmark movie formula of a big city character relocating to a small town.

“The pace that allows you to enjoy each other,” she says, “where you get to feel like you’re walking into a scene in a Hallmark movie on some days, so you’re there at the small town festival.

Sandquist says she lived in the big city for a decade before moving to Harlan in 2018.

The majority of Hallmark’s Christmas movies are filmed in Canada, as snow is often involved in plot lines. However, a 2016 Hallmark movie titled “Christmas in Homestead” is about Homestead, Iowa and features a movie producer who falls in love with the town’s mayor, but it was all filmed in Georgia.

Radio Iowa