In 2.5 years, I’ve learned a lot about rural Pottawattamie County. As someone who grew up here, I had no idea that the biggest county in Iowa was even more expansive than I realized. There’s always another surprise around the corner like a Minion statue or a back road I haven’t taken with a marker for a homestead. As we roll into the summer after COVID, I can tell you that there’s staycation material everywhere in our county! Tube the Nishnabotna. Bike the new trail next to Underwood. Hit a game at the new Vision Treynor fields. Do the bronze eagle tour. You won’t be sorry.
In 2.5 years, I’ve collected a lot of great footage. I’ll try to be brief but I want to share a few things I’ve learned about my WIDA towns.
Avoca Main Street – wow! What a transformation the town has been through! If you haven’t experienced it, go. There’s a lot of special people working hard to make it great. They’ve got potential to go a couple of different ways right now and I can’t wait to see which way they head. I’m all for a jacked-up tour of vehicles in the air! A roadtripper’s dream! But we’ll see what materializes.
Carson – I’m so excited for Carson! They have a brand new Main Street Coordinator and a façade project about to happen! Add in the Carson Rodeo, the Dreamland Theatre, new pickleball courts, and possibly the best rallying community I’ve ever seen – I think there’s big things ahead for Carson!
Crescent – I’ll admit, I didn’t know a lot about Crescent before I took my job. Now, I’m in awe. They have yet another subdivision going in and a restaurant row that’s second to none! Add in that it is a recreational haven with Hitchcock Nature Center, Pokamoke Pool, and Mt. Crescent for skiing and ziplining in the summer and how can you not love it?
Hancock – I have big dreams for that main street in Hancock! In the meantime, I love the parks! They are rockstar and how can you not enjoy the buffalo and elk? Well, I do have a story about one of the buffalo not liking me, but that’s for another day. The railroad, the machine shop, the new county shed, and the hidden gem meat locker make it what it is. I appreciate that they always take care of their own. I think there’s big changes coming. Just wait!
Macedonia – It’s been my unicorn! The main street railings are my favorite in Pott. Co. It’s just never dull in ‘Donia. With two beautiful parks, murals on buildings, a new AirBnB, a façade project starting, and multiple committees trying to improve Donia Days and the town in general, I don’t know how you don’t love Donia! And if you haven’t experienced Donia Days, get it on your radar!
McClelland – hidden gem city! McClelland is my ace in the hole. With the Dew Drop Inn and the Ellison Park, I’m in heaven. Yes, it’s Iowa, my friends. They go big and they go home! Holidays in McClelland may be the best kept secret in Pott. Co. but I love their spunk! When there’s a town potluck, the whole town really does show up. A house sells before it can even get on the market and they really will know your name and be glad you came.
Minden – The only town in Pott. Co. to have its own town triangle – which is gorgeous I might add! Talk about a town with all the staples – grocery, meat locker, bowling, pharmacy, hair salon to name a few and of course, a winery! I look for Minden to grow sooner rather than later! Mark my words.
Oakland – As many of you may know, it’s my hometown. With so many long-time businesses thanks to some long-time family names, Oakland has the most amenities of any town. Add in recreation like the golf course and pool dreamed up by a few men with money, clout, and forethought a long time ago. The museum gardens and freedom rock sure attract attention, and I can only hope that we all put our heads together and do a little long-term planning for more greatness!
Shelby – a place you’re going to want to be this summer! It may be a year late, but they are ready to celebrate 150 years in a big way! Shelby is a town on the move with a new water tower, some new housing, some new art, and a lot of national chain businesses calling it home! Not to mention the StoneArch Trail that should be attracting the masses! They keep a low profile but it’s a town worthy of your time!
Treynor – holy cow! They are jumping in head first! A brand new subdivision, the first of the Vision Treynor fields are opening, and a new city hall group that’s ready to go big to make Treynor the place to be! Add in places like The Palace and Prairie Crossing Winery on the outskirts, and I think Treynor will continue to be the home away from the Metro.
Underwood – hold on tight! Underwood is putting up houses, adding new businesses, and plays home to the newest trail in Pott. Co. Add in organizations that are gunning to support Underwood, and it’s destined to flourish. Just like Treynor, I think you’ll see it be the answer to some remote workers’ dreams!
Finally, Walnut – Oh, Walnut! I’m so proud of you! You’ve got event dates set and you’re ready to party! Just like Shelby, they will be celebrating their 150th this summer and I promise you it will be a good time! Along with their 150th, they’ve got plans for their antique walks and some new brick street market days backed by new businesses on main street. Don’t forget their splash pad, community center, and bakery that make Walnut top notch! You’ll never be bored in Walnut!
So, there you have it – a little walk down memory lane for me and, as you may have heard, my farewell tour, so-to-speak. I have decided to go to be a part of the family business working for my brother-in-law and sister-in-law and, of course, with my husband. Although it’s bittersweet, my 2.5 years at WIDA have been enlightening and a true blessing. Thank you for the blog shares, the post comments, likes on our Facebook page and Instagram, the flyers you sent my way, and your loyalty to rural Pott. Co. along the way. It was all appreciated. I have never taken the responsibility of any job lightly, this one especially. There’s no place like home. WIDA will always have a piece of my heart. It’s been an honor to serve you, rural Pott. Co.
God bless and send the best replacement candidates our way! (The position will be posted later today. Please give them lots of love, too!)
Walnut is getting a new shop this week as Crockery & More opens Friday, April 2nd at noon for business. The official grand opening will take place on April 23rd as part of the Brick Street Market Days and include hor d’oeuvres by The Purple Door, but if you want a sneak peek this weekend is your chance!
The new store will feature, but will not be limited to, stoneware, crocks, kitchenware, vintage beaded purses, clocks, cloisonné vases, statues, and imported artisan pastas like black squid linguine. The place is beautiful with old wood, vintage Walnut décor, and crocks for days! The store is located at 225 Antique City Drive, formerly the Iowa Gun Shop for those familiar with Walnut.
John Sell and Erich Cochran are partners in creating the newest piece of the antique-puzzle in Walnut. Sell is a retired 1st Data employee originally from Honey Creek. He’s been working with the folks at The Granary Mall for the last 4 years and realized this was a great opportunity and just the right time to open a new place. John and Erich will continue to be part of The Granary but Crockery & More will be an extension of what was started with the Suhrs. With a passion for art pottery, Sell and Cochran believe the stoneware and crocks are the perfect fit. The duo are already members of the Red Wing Society and participate in online auctions on an almost daily basis. The goal is to put Walnut on the map along with Red Wing, MN and Ripley, IL as a stoneware haven.
As Crockery & More prepared to open, Walnut recently announced a solid lineup of event dates to embrace tourism and local shoppers, as well. The 2021 calendar includes the usual events of the AmVets Antique Show on Father’s Day weekend, the Optimist Car Show on August 1, the Antique Fall Festival on October 9 & 10, and the Christmas Walk on Thanksgiving weekend. The big news is that not only will they be adding their Sesquicentennial July 30 and 31st and August 1, but they have created the Brick Street Market Days which will be held on April 24, May 29, July 31, and August 28! The Brick Street Market Days will include antiques, produce, crocks, animals, and more! Walnut has definitely stepped up their game! The Crockery & More partners are excited about all that Walnut has to offer and believe that the event calendar Walnut is embarking on for 2021 is ideal for buyers and sellers!
So congratulations to John and Erich on your partnership and welcome Crockery & More to the Pottawattamie landscape! We look forward to doing business with you!
So how many points did you get? I hope you got a zero! You know why? Because each of those things on the list exists because of Iowa Agriculture! It just so happens that this is National Agriculture Week and because Pottawattamie County is an agriculture-focused county, we would be remiss without giving a nod to our favorite agriculturalists!
These days everyone has an opinion about farming and agriculture, but the fact of the matter is that the world revolves around ag. Everyone knows that vegetables, meat, and milk are all considered agricultural products, but it’s the byproducts as well that help the world function. Detergent, glue, lumber, leather, insulin, and alcohol (the fun kind) – are all ag products!
So the world may look at Iowa and say we are just a bunch of corn fields, but they need us to be a bunch of corn fields along with livestock owners and garden enthusiasts. They need every farmer to go out in the blizzard, the wind, the muddy messes, and the 100 degree heat to tend to their crops in whatever form they call their own. And these days the types of agriculture are so diversified from chestnuts to butterflies to sugarcane to longhorns to sunflowers – they all count!
So as you go about your day and tally up your scores on your favorite memes, just remember how much you need, love, and use everything that comes from agriculture!
Happy National Ag Week to all those who make it happen and all those that use it (whether you know it, or not)!
Joe Chapman runs The Cattle Drive weekly, but his form of cattle drive is in that of a food truck! The Cattle Drive food truck specializes in steak sandwiches with locally sourced brioche buns and meat from Rustic Cuts in Council Bluffs. It is a family-run business that includes Joe’s parents, as well as his wife and kids when they are available. He says he relies on his mom’s cooking abilities and her bubbly personality and his dad’s outgoing personality and attention to detail. It seems that Joe has those same personality traits, as you might well know him as the coach of the Treynor Cardinal girls basketball team!
Mr. Chapman started formulating his plan to have a food truck back in 2019 when he realized it was time for a change. With extensive research, planning, the right contacts, and an affordable investment, he went into business! 2020 was the first full year the truck was in business and hit the snag of COVID, but despite that, they’ve done 4 to 5 events a week in the summer and 1 to 2 in the winter. Plus, they are regulars in the Rustic Cuts parking lot and a monthly lunch visitor to The Zion Church in Treynor, typically on a Monday. Joe says there’s no event too small or too big – they’ve served fundraisers, graduations, sports teams’ events, etc. He says all it takes is a quick call to his cell phone (402-290-9818) to get the truck booked! He says word-of-mouth has been their best marketing tool, and I’m not surprised by this at all! I’d take a Gooey Mooey any day!
When I asked about the rewards of owning a food truck, Joe had many. He said it was exciting to have seen the idea of the business through from development to reality. He also is thankful to get to work with his family, and he says that working with so many people in the community has been a blessing, too. As they continue to build up their clientele, he hopes to expand the business and move into having regular spots in other Southwest Iowa towns, as well. I’m going to predict that will happen quickly! Lol
Joe credits Rick Larson at Rustic Cuts for guidance, his family’s willing participation, and the Treynor (and surrounding area) community for its warm reception as to the success of the food truck. His gracious attitude is very apparent. He told me, “It has been my pleasure and honor to meet and serve so many individuals, families, groups, and businesses in our communities.”
Well, Joe, we are glad to have you in Pott. Co. and I think it’s safe to say it’s going to be a busy summer in your world!
If you’re interested in the menu, seeing where they are next, or booking the truck, you can find them on Facebook or Twitter (@cattledrivecb) or check out their website at www.cattledrivecb.com.
This blog brought to you by Western Ventures, Inc.
Buck Snort Oakland has a new lease on life. Literally, the lease changed hands over the weekend as Dwayne Pleas, the franchise owner of the Glenwood and Council Bluffs Buck Snorts added Oakland to his credits. Dwayne is a hands-on owner and you will be seeing him around here frequently as well as his new kitchen manager, Scott, and front-of-the-house manager, Haylee, but for now, Shannon is back and ready to welcome you in the doors!
What can you expect to change? Well, first off, the new website and menu boards will be up and going ASAP. You’ll also be able to order all the cross-franchise daily specials that are consistent in all Buck Snorts. A Lenten fish special will be featured each Friday and the spicy barbeque sauce is back, as is the party room! You’ll also be seeing tots! That’s right – tater tots are on the menu! Plus, there will be a new revamped menu with items like the Boom Boom Pow Burger (they say it’s a spicy one!), the Mini Moose (a smaller version of The Moose Burger), a deluxe cordon bleu (complete with an egg on top), and the Brunch Burger (with egg, BBQ, tots, and bacon)!
You might have seen the post saying that Disney Trivia Night is happening on March 21st, too. They are ready to bring you fun events like that and the 4th of July beer garden! Catering is also back and they say they’re ready for your class reunions or family get-togethers! Their hours will be 7 days a week 11am to 8pm daily.
As Shannon put it, you can plan on the clean, classic, Buck Snort traditions!
7 Days: Skating, Drinking, Dancing, Eating, Celebrating, Trivia, Exercising, & Books in Pott. County!!
What a week in Pott. Co. – I seriously am so excited for all the things you can pick from in the next 7 days! We’ve got variety! We’ve got fun! We’ve got food! We’ve got dancing! We’ve got an author to meet! We’ve got a holiday to celebrate! I seriously can’t say enough about all that’s happening! So let me walk you through it!
The weekend kicks off with Friday night rollerskating at UMBA Hall in Underwood starting at 8:30 if you’re older than a 5th grader! They offer it every Friday till May and it’s such great old-school-cool fun! Or you can get your groove with Live Music with Adam Lee at the Crescent Roadhouse Bar & Grill starting at 9.
Saturday has a wealth of opportunities and a little of everything! You can start your day off with Zumba or Yoga at Impact Hill in Oakland. Get that body moving!
Then, you can grab free food in Avoca and Oakland called Farmers to Families boxes. The USDA helps make it happen along with some local folks! Boxes will be handed out starting at 9 in Oakland at the Oakland Community Center and starting at 10 in Avoca at Avoca Seed and Chemical. They will give them out till they run out!
Speaking of food, from 11am to 2pm, Hodges Smokehouse Catering in Minden will be having their annual open house. Yum! You do have to reserve a table ahead of time due to COVID-restrictions, so get them called ASAP!
You’ll also need to get a call in ASAP if you’d like to enjoy the St. Patrick’s Dinner at Prairie Crossing Winery at Treynor on Saturday night at 7. Reservations have to be made ahead.
If you’re looking for a night out of drinks and live music, you’ve got 3 options. The Swampboy Blues Band will be starting at The Back Forty in Macedonia at 8pm. At 9, you can catch Adam Lee at the I-80 Lounge (he’s got a busy weekend) in Underwood or Finding Dixie at Hoots N Hollers in Shelby. Start your St. Patty’s Day celebrations early!
Monday brings the Iowa trivia contest and Sara Broers book signing at the Eckels Memorial Library in Oakland from 9:30am to 11. Great prizes involved! THIS HAS BEEN POSTPONED TILL MONDAY, MARCH 29 (due to weather conditions of our author)!!!
Also, on Monday night, you can get reubens and the drink special, Lucky Leprechaun, at The Nut located in the Walnut Community Center!
Tuesday is worth noting because Dairy Queen in Oakland will open for the season! Hello, dilly, dilly bars!
Wednesday is, of course, St. Patrick’s Day and our local restaurants are ready to serve you! I’m sure they will all be hosting some kind of special but here’s what I’ve been told so far:
B&L Diner in Walnut will be serving corned beef & cabbage!
The Bar’N and Grill in Carson will be serving corned beef & cabbage with $5 pitchers of green beer!
Hoots N Hollers in Shelby will be serving corned beef & cabbage starting at noon till they run out along with drink and shot specials all day long!
Henry’s Diner in Crescent will be serving corned beef & cabbage & red potatoes & carrots from 11am to 10pm! (see the flyer on our website)
Destination Coffee & Cuisine in Oakland will be running drink specials all month in honor of St. Patty’s including a Blarney Mocha or a Leprechaun Latte!
Crescent Roadhouse Bar & Grill in Crescent will be serving corned beef & cabbage!
Glenn's Pub in Walnut will be serving corned beef & cabbage starting at 11am till it runs out and $3 beers!
I’ll keep updating you as I hear more!
Just know that life is back to being lived and Pott. Co. is packed full of entertainment! Happy Celebrating!
Did you know that the Oakland Library has a Midwestern author coming to sign books in Pott. Co. this Monday, March 29th? Sara Broers, the author of the Midwest Road Trip Adventures, will be at Eckels Memorial Library (207 South Highway 6) from 9:30am to 11am to sign copies of her book. (Yes, you can purchase copies at the library that day or order off Amazon prior!)
*(What to know a little about our author? Well, Sara is the co-owner of Midwest Travel Network, is the CEO of Travel with Sara, and she’s an auctioneer! How cool is that? She and her husband live on the family farm in North Iowa and are very excited to be new grandparents this past year!)*
We know it’s a Monday morning so we’ve upped the ante! The first 30 guests will be given themed masks and the first 20 customers to purchase a book will get a swag bag, too! The masks are being made by local gurus, Vicki Palmer and Veva Larson! How’s that for a deal?
Plus, we will have treats! Destination Coffee & Cuisine will be handing out free coffee samples and snacks will also be provided. And if that weren’t enough, fill out the Iowa Road Trip Trivia sheet to win a prize package that includes a Pottawattamie County Park Pass donated by the Pottawattamie County Conservation, wine donated by Prairie Crossing Winery, food vouchers donated by Harrah’s Casinos, table runner by Eileen Adickes, and swag donated by Golden Hills, RC&D to name a few!
In addition to our author, this is your chance to see and hear about the transformed Oakland Library that is complete with automation and you can check out e-books, too! Along with seeing the library, Becca Castle, the coordinator of the Iowa Byways, will be available to tell you about the passport program and answer all your Byways questions!
Talk about a jam-packed morning! Hope we see you there!
*This blog post is sponsored by the Oakland Industrial Foundation.
If you have a dog that has to be groomed, you’ve probably heard Country Pups Dog Grooming brought up! Jenna Stulgies opened her doors at 4 South Eyberg (right on Highway 92) last fall in Treynor and her business has exploded!
Jenna grew up in Pott. Co. with a horse trainer dad and a love for animals! Little did she know that washing her farm dogs and shaving them would turn into a business! Ms. Stulgies actually considered going into cosmetology to be creative and see the happiness of transformations, but after a shadowing project in high school, she clearly realized small talk all day wasn’t for her! Animals were, and so began her journey as a groomer.
Right after high school, Jenna headed to Loveland, CO to grooming school where she not only learned from a Master Groomer but got to work with rare breeds, as well. She took her training and headed back to Iowa where she groomed in Glenwood, Council Bluffs, and Treynor, but in October, she knew it was time to go out on her own so she set up shop in Treynor. She found a location right off the highway perfect for those dropping off on their way to do errands or walk their dog to the shop on a nice, sunny day in Iowa!
Jenna says the focus at Country Pups Dog Grooming is not only the safety of the dog and grooming the dog but also teaching the dog how to be groomed. Stulgies’ years of experience in horse training has helped her to coach dogs to successful grooming situations. She says one of her greatest victories in dog-grooming is taking in the dogs that have not been welcomed back at other pet salons and coaxing them into carefree grooming experiences. I’d say that being a successful female shop owner at 28 is a pretty impressive victory, too!
You can’t help but like Jenna. I knew it right away, but when I asked what she wanted people to know, she told me, “I want people to know I will always have their dog’s best interest in mind. I treat the dog like it is my own and love them like they are my own. I want people to know how grateful and humbled I am that they support my business and my goals.” I think that says it all! Plus, she has aspirations for more and how can you not like that? She says she also has a background in boarding animals and if things go well (like they are now), she will be looking into adding another groomer and a boarding service in the future! If you’d like to see all that she’s doing, you can find Country Pups on Facebook.
Well, Jenna, I am pretty sure that doggy daycare is definitely in your future! Welcome to Pott. Co! We’re so glad you’re here!
February 17th is National Random Acts of Kindness Day, and we could all use some good vibes! Now, I don’t think it has to be random. Any act of kindness is welcomed this Wednesday, and we are so lucky because one of our Pott. Co. citizens put her money where her mouth is!
Kim Wise was the winner of the Dew Drop Inn gift card from the WIDA Awards surveys, and she has graciously donated it back as a random act of kindness for me to give as a way to celebrate this holiday! How exciting is that? So today, you can win a Dew Drop gift card for burgers and beer (or whatever you prefer)! All you have to do is comment on this post with something nice you did for someone else this week because technically, it’s Acts of Kindness Week! So to be entered you just need to post a comment about something you did on WIDA’s original post on Facebook or on our website by Friday, February 19 at noon Central Standard Time!
Now, if you’re needing inspiration, let me help you! I always have suggestions, random or not!
First off, we have an organization that serves Pott. Co. that matches people with ways to donate time, money, or labor. So head to the ShareOmaha link for Pott. Co. to find a way you can help year-round if you want!
If you’d rather have non-organized ideas, here are a few:
*Leave candy on the car window next to you with a happy note.
*Take pizzas to the nearest school to drop off in the lounge.
*Send a thank you note to a company you appreciate.
*Buy coffee for the person behind you in the drive-thru line.
*Leave a treat for your mailman.
*Donate warm clothing to a shelter.
*Take food to the food pantry.
Not so random –
*Paint snow and make a picture in someone's yard - there's plenty of it!
*Decorate a tree in your neighborhood with fun stuff.
*Send a card to a friend.
*Drop off treats to your favorite store workers.
*Take your elderly neighbor a “TV dinner” of what you’re having for supper
*Take a balloon to a small child.
*Drop off a 6-pack for your neighbor
Do what you gotta do! In a time that’s got lots of lines drawn in the sand, let’s build sand castles instead.
Have an amazing day/week and be sure to get yourself entered in our drawing!
The Country Store in Carson has officially changed hands to those of the Robert McKern family. Bob grew up near Westfair, went to Underwood High, and purchased the McMartin place near Carson in 1997, the year he got married to Sheila. After 23 years of traveling in the heating and cooling business, Bob switched over to managing a feedlot, then worked as a hired hand, and recently was talking to Norma Buckingham, the owner of The Country Store and realized that was his next venture. One he plans to share with his whole family, but especially his daughter, Amanda who is 19 and ready to manage the store. He said he knew someone local needed to carry on the tradition of the Country Store and it would be a perfect project for his daughter and him to take on together.
How can you not love a guy who says that?
Of course, he’ll tell you that his wife is the one to love. He came home with the wild idea of buying the Carson landmark and Sheila gave him the green light saying his plans always seem to work out. Mr. McKern has considered farming multiple times but doesn’t own ground beyond his home place and so this opportunity just seemed like one he couldn’t let pass by. Norma was thrilled to be selling to someone locally and the McKerns are excited to make sure the citizens of Carson and surrounding areas have their needs met.
In fact, Bob mentioned that the Carson Country Store will most definitely stay the Country Store. What is changing? Well, the movie rentals are already out and the family has been surveying customers about what they’d like to see. They’ve also got some consultants coming in to make suggestions on resetting the shelving and so forth. The big long-term goals include opening it up more so it’s bigger, upgrading gas pumps with card readers, and a bigger parking lot, but none of that will happen tomorrow! For now, the McKerns just hope to keep it running smoothly! Bob intends on passing it down to his kids (Amanda and Grady).
Well, McKern Family, we are happy to see one of our favorite Carson staples alive and well! Thanks for being the next family of Country Store owners!
Keep current with Southwest Iowa happenings here.