Call for Artists: Due April 7

posted in: Front Page, In the Media | 0

George Stout

Last year, the Iowa Department of Transportation announced approval of Madison County’s application to become an Iowa Scenic Byways community following a 2014 call for new byways applications. Because of the Scenic Byways designation, Winterset will be one of fifteen Iowa Scenic Byways communities to be included in a statewide art installation effort which begins this summer.

The Iowa Byways Public Art Initiative is taking place along eight of Iowa’s scenic byways. The art pieces will be installed in each of the locations by April 2019, with a coordinated ribbon cutting at all fifteen sites. Each installation will be different and representative of creative placemaking within each community.

Currently there is an active committee working on a Call for Artists, fundraising, and overall planning and coordination of this public art piece, which will serve as a standing monument for years to come. As a central theme of the artwork, the committee has chosen George Stout, who is widely and warmly known here in Winterset as the inspiration for George Clooney’s character in the movie “Monuments Men”, and saved some of the world’s most valuable and precious artworks from destruction in World War II. George Stout was suggested as our theme because of his Winterset roots and impressive significance in the art world.

Call for Artists: Click here to print the complete details.

Submissions must be postmarked by April 7, 2017.

Communication of contracted artists to design and construct the art piece will be in a public meeting to be held on June 2, 2017 with follow up in writing. Installation of the artwork is expected to be between August – October 2017 pending funding.

This project is possible through the efforts of local volunteers and funding from the National Endowment for the Arts, Byways of Iowa Foundation, Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs, Casey’s General Stores and local partners. Individuals or businesses that wish to contribute towards this art project are encouraged to contact Robin Paul, Coordinator for the Byways Art Advisory Committee at (515) 707-4309, or me at the Madison County Chamber of Commerce, (515) 462-1185.

The Scenic Byways designation for Madison County opens a multitude of possibilities for tourism, development, and further interest in our community. Our inclusion in this public art project is the first opportunity to work statewide with other byways communities, and we’re grateful for the prospects of further partnerships!


Heather Riley, Executive Director

Madison County Chamber of Commerce

Shop Small This Holiday Season: Your Local Gift Guide

posted in: Front Page, Winter | 0

Here it is….the holiday shopping season is officially upon us!

Winterset is a wonderful place, and this is an especially appropriate time to be reminded of the power we have to preserve our prosperous, historic, and unique community. How do we do this? It’s simple: Patronize local businesses.

My father was a small-town community banker in northwest Missouri. When I was younger, I remember a particular admonishment my mother received in the early-1980s when she marched in the house carrying sacks of goodies from Wal-Mart. Dad said, “What are you doing? You can’t shop there! Go uptown and get Christmas presents from the merchants around the square!” I’ll never forget it. For a kid who thought a trip to Wal-Mart was kind of fun…well, it opened my eyes.

In the past, I have enjoyed going to larger markets, malls, and other towns to shop. Sometimes, I’ve appreciated the convenience of online shopping. But certainly since I have taken on the role of Executive Director of the Madison County Chamber of Commerce, it’s been particularly important to me to do as much of my shopping as possible here in my own community.

It’s easy to walk into the Gap and buy sweaters in assorted sizes and colors for family members. But wouldn’t a wine tasting, dance, knitting or art class make a memorable gift for your aunt, sister or niece? There are businesses here in Winterset ready to help you with that! How about taking an outdated, yet special, piece of jewelry or heirloom to a local artist to repurpose it into something special and wearable?

We have artistic florists, creative t-shirt and apparel designers, and talented photographers who would love to take your inspiration and turn it into a personalized gift. Do you have relatives visiting from faraway places? A gift that represents Madison County is perfect! Our Welcome Center is full of Madison County-themed gifts, and many of our local merchants carry items crafted by local artisans. Plus, a shopping trip into the beautifully-decorated stores around our picturesque town square is fun. Friendly merchants, easy parking, and terrific customer service – you can’t get that at the mall!

Don’t forget our area wineries. Who wouldn’t love a bottle (or case) of an award-winning red or white wine from Covered Bridges Winery, Madison County Winery, or Two Saints Winery, produced from grapes grown right here in Madison County. Our bakeries and restaurants, who churn out daily deliciousness, offer gift certificates that make a visit to Winterset fun and memorable.

Wow, friends…we’ve got it all! What if everyone did the majority of his or her holiday shopping in Winterset this year? Imagine the impact that would have and the message that would send!

For a list of Shopping & Specialty Retail members, visit

Heather Riley

Executive Director, Madison County Chamber of Commerce

Madison County Featured on Road Trippin’ Show

posted in: Bridges, In the Media, John Wayne | 0

Madison County was recently featured in several segments of Road Trippin’, highlighting some of our favorite local attractions. Check it out!

Road Trippin’: John Wayne Birthplace & Museum

Road Trippin’: Iowa Quilt Museum

Road Trippin’: Madison County Historical Complex

Road Trippin’: Bridges of Madison County

Covered Bridge Festival: Favorites Old & New

posted in: Bridges, Fall, Front Page | 0

Ten Old Favorites at the Covered Bridge Festival

1. Madison County Bridge Tours—Provided by the Winterset Rotary Club, departing every 20 minutes. Tickets purchased at the red Rotary booth on S. 1st Street at the Holliwell festival entrance. Tours last approximately 90 minutes. $10 per person donation.

2.  Firefighters’ Pancake Breakfast at the Winterset fire station, 124 W. Court Ave. A great way to start your day! 6:00-11:00 am.

3. 4K & 8K Runs—Saturday, 7:45 to 8:45 am: Registration check-in at Winterset City Park. 8:45 am: Individual Children’s Race begins, followed by 4K/8K Run/Walk at 9:00 am. Winterset City Park.

4. Sheep shearing and wool spinning by the Madison County Sheep Producers.

5. Meet Me at the Bridge at the North Shelter at City Park, Saturday at 6:00 pm. Music by Crosswind; dinner for $10.00 per person.

6. Covered Bridge Quilters Annual Quilt Show. 9am to 5pm on Saturday and 10am to 4pm on Sunday at the Winterset Elementary School. $3.00 admission.

7. Cowboys of Wild West Creations. This 1880s cowboy troupe will be roaming the streets of Winterset again, posing for photos and having shootouts around the square.

8. Old-Fashioned Spelling Bee, located on the courthouse steps. Watch Madison County students compete at 11:00 am and 1:00 pm.

9. The 31st Annual Madison County Car Show, held in the field behind the Winterset School District Administration building. Sunday only. Registration is from 8am to noon, with awards at 3:30 pm.

10. Parade— One of the best-loved events of the Madison County Covered Bridge Festival! It begins at the high school at 2:00 pm on Sunday and heads north on 8th Avenue until turning east on Court and continuing to the other side of town (on Court and Washington ).

Ten New Favorites at the Covered Bridge Festival

1. Create a Covered Bridge by Morry Hay and Tom Clause, hosted by the Madison County Chamber. Help create a replica of the Cedar Bridge.

2. Glass blowing demonstration by Robin Paul of Madhaus Gallery.

3. Chain Saw Carving by Andy Klindt.

4. The Abridged History of Quilting with Marianne Fons. Located in front of the Iowa Quilt Museum on Saturday at 11 am, 1 pm & 3 pm.

5. DIY – Barn Quilt Block Painting Demonstration by Mark Davis in front of the Iowa Quilt Museum, Sunday at 10 am and 1 pm.

6. “Patchwork Heirlooms: Care and Storage of Quilts” Hosted by Virginia Berger in front of the Iowa Quilt Museum on Saturday at 10 am, 12 pm, 2 pm, & 4 pm. Learn about quilt patterns and dating.

7. Tethered hot air balloon rides. Conducted by Boden Balloons in the field behind the Winterset School District Administration building. $20 per person. Saturday only.

8. Airplane rides over Madison County. Up to three guests can go up in an aircraft and fly over the festival grounds and Hogback Covered Bridge. $20 per person. Located at the Winterset Municipal Airport.

9. Bonfire and s’mores, cannon firing and Civil War skirmish at the Madison County Historical Complex. Saturday, October 8th, starting at 6:45 pm.

10. Canoe and kayak rentals at Cedar Lake through Middle River Rentals, Saturday, 11 am to 3 pm.

For more information and a complete schedule, see the Covered Bridge Festival page.

Summer Bucket List: 12 Ways to Enjoy the Season in Madison County

posted in: Summer, Tour Ideas | 0

Book a tour of the famous covered bridges of Madison County (or explore them on your own by car, by bike, or by canoe/kayak). Call (515) 462-1185 to set up a personal guided tour, or stop in the Madison County Chamber of Commerce at 72 Jefferson Street in Winterset to pick up maps to the bridges.

Visit the John Wayne Birthplace & Museum, and see what it’s like to stand next to an American icon.

Savor some of Madison County’s own wine, beer or hard apple cider. Come on a Saturday evening and stay for an outdoor concert. Covered Bridges Winery (, Madison County Winery (, Two Saints Winery (, Winterset Cidery (

Dine and shop on Winterset’s historic town square.

Get inspired at the brand new Iowa Quilt Museum (

Attend Hinterland Music Festival in St. Charles, with headliners Willie Nelson and Ray LaMontagne, on August 5th and 6th, and prove to your kids (or parents) that you are indeed cool. (

Go a bit rugged at Pammel State Park. Some of the area’s nicest campgrounds (book early and reserve one of their two yurts) and fishing (Channel, Blue and Flathead catfish) are at this county park.

Climb Clark Tower at City Park, and take in the view of the Middle River Valley.

Indulge in a soft-serve ice cream cone or Cyclone at Frostee’s.

Make your own masterpiece at Madhaus Gallery (

Play pioneer at the 18-acre Madison County Historical Complex (

Load up on supplies and gourmet food at the Winterset Hy-Vee, then enjoy a picnic at Winterset’s City Park in one of the park’s shelters or on the grass (just like Robert and Francesca in The Bridges of Madison County).

Welcome to Our New & Improved Website!

posted in: Front Page, Uncategorized | 0

Whether you’re planning a visit to Madison County or are a seasoned local looking for community information, we hope this is a helpful resource to navigate your online search!

We invite you to “Get Engaged” in Madison County, Iowa! Explore our world-famous covered bridges; Visit the Birthplace of movie icon John Wayne; Connect with history; Savor Madison County flavors and culinary specialties; Shop the historic Winterset courthouse district; and discover the great outdoors in our beautiful parks, rivers, and green spaces. Our enchanting community is teeming with possibilities for adventures!

If you’re visiting Madison County, be sure to stop by our Welcome Center located at 73 Jefferson Street in Winterset for maps and information about sights to see, places to explore, and sample itineraries for your day. We have friendly, knowledgeable staff members who want you to feel welcome and connected!

Madison County is a captivating place with beautiful natural scenery, where history comes alive, and where we’ve brushed elbows with Hollywood and Broadway. Welcome to Madison County, Iowa!