10 New Favorites at the 2017 Covered Bridge Festival

posted in: Bridges, Fall, Front Page | 0
  1. Performances by Winterset native and “The Bridges of Madison County” actress Sarah Schmitt Zahn. Sarah will be singing original pieces and songs from the Broadway musical of “Bridges”. Saturday at 2:00 pm on the Penrod Stage and Sunday at 4:00 pm on the Benge Family Stage.
  2. Chain Saw Carvingby Andy Klindt. His booth will be set up across from the Madison County Chamber of Commerce office.
  3. Sidewalk Chalk Artist Kathleen Roling will create a 3D rendering featuring the Cedar Bridge at the southwest corner of the festival grounds, starting at 9:00 am on Saturday and finishing by the late afternoon.
  4. Filmmaking Contest—Stop in at The Iowa Theater between 9:00 am and 1:00 pm, Saturday and Sunday, to view and vote for your favorite original short film featuring a bridge.
  5. Screening of TheBridges of Madison County at The Iowa Theater, followed by a panel discussion with actress Sarah Schmitt Zahn (young Carolyn), Dave Trask (featured in the Northside Cafe scene) and John Reed (assisted with film production). Saturday starting at 2:00 pm.
  6. Spot a Star! Be on the lookout for famous Iowa-based movie characters walking the square. Get your “Spot a Star” card at the gate when you purchase your ticket. Snag a picture with each star and get a sticker for your card. Drop off your completed card at The Iowa Theater’s booth for a chance to win a prize pack from the theater!   Both days, 10 am to 2 pm.
  7. The Iowa Theater welcomes the filmmakers behind the upcoming documentary “Stout Hearted: George Stout the Man Who Rescued Art.” Watch exclusive clips alongside Stout’s granddaughter and other family members. Stay for the feature film The Monuments Men. ($6/adults, $5/seniors and children under 12.) Saturday at 6:00 pm, The Iowa Theater.
  8. Madison County Scenic Byways Art Piece Dedication, join the Byways Art Selection Committee for the dedication of the art piece “The Story of George Stout” by Michael Goodall. Coffee and a snack will be provided. Saturday at 8 am, corner of 1st and Washington (school administration building).
  9. Guided Church History Tours, First United Presbyterian Church, 210 W. Green St. View rose stain glass windows and a rare pipe organ, plus learn about Madison County’s connections to the Underground Railroad. Saturday between 10-11:30 am, and 2:30-4:00 pm.
  10. Winterset Art Center — Stop by to view the new gallery exhibit, “Variations”, by artist James Givan. Art pieces are for sale. Stay to tour the studios and enjoy free hands-on children’s activities. Saturday, 10 am to 4:30 pm; Sunday, 10 am to 1 pm.

See the full schedule of activities at entertainment for the 48th Annual Madison County Covered Bridge Festival, October 14 and 15, at this link.

Spend Your Summer in Madison County

posted in: Front Page, Summer | 0

It’s summer and that means plenty of ways to spend your time outdoors. We believe that Madison County has some of the most beautiful scenery and friendliest people in the country, so there’s no better place to enjoy that time than here in Madison County, Iowa! Here’s just a small sample of the ways you can spend your summer days or nights here:

Tour the Covered Bridges in a Whole New Way

Whether by foot or car, bicycle or boat, a trip to Madison County wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the covered bridges. All can be accessed by car or bicycle, but in the summer, we think there’s no better way than by boat! The Middle River Water Trail offers access to both the Roseman Covered Bridge and the Holliwell Covered Bridge. Don’t own a canoe or kayak? Rent one from Middle River Rentals, and they will transport you to the “putting in” location and pick you up when you’re finished.

Have a Cold One

Sip on a locally-made hard apple cider at Winterset Cidery, or imbibe at one of the county’s three local wineries (Covered Bridges Winery, Madison County Winery, and Two Saints Winery). All offer tastings, indoor (or outdoor) seating, and live music on certain nights. Check each website for details.

If a “cold one” to you means a soft-serve ice cream cone or shake, then by all means, stop by Frostee’s to tie one on. Open only seasonally, it just isn’t summer around here without them. Located at 101 E. Green Street in Winterset.

Get Outdoors!

Fish on! Madison County parks provide for a multitude of fishing opportunities for anglers. Iowa’s most popular game fish, the Channel Catfish, can be easily caught in all of the river systems in Madison County. Excellent pan fishing opportunities (Bluegills, Bass and Crappie) also abound in each of the public ponds, lakes and impoundments found in various County, State and municipal parks in Madison County. For more information, click here.

Hike, bike (or drive) up to Clark Tower in Winterset’s City Park. It’s one mile up (and one mile down) to reach one of the state’s most popular “hidden gems” from the main part of the park. This three-story limestone monument to one of the county’s first settlers offers an extraordinary view of the Middle River Valley.

While you’re at City Park, enjoy a picnic at one of the park’s shelters or on the grass near the stone bridge (just like Robert and Francesca in The Bridges of Madison County).

Play pioneer at the 18-acre Madison County Historical Complex. Admission is just $5 per person and includes the two-story museum of local historical artifacts, the Bevington-Kaser Victorian mansion, and 14 different authentic buildings, including a one-room schoolhouse, gas station, blacksmith shop, and a huge barn full of antique farming equipment.

Get Your Groove On.

The third annual Hinterland Music Festival will once again take place in St. Charles at the Avenue of the Saints Amphitheater on August 4th and 5th. This family-friendly event is for those who love music and the outdoors. For tickets and the full lineup, visit www.hinterlandiowa.com.

If you’re in the mood for something much smaller than Hinterland, check out the First Friday Concert Series at Winterset’s City Park. Food and beverages are offered starting at 6:00 pm and the music starts at 7:00 pm.

For all this and more, visit our website or call the Madison County Chamber of Commerce’s Welcome Center at (515) 462-1185.





Construction on Cumming Road, May-July

posted in: Front Page | 0

The Chamber office was notified of the following road work that will affect Cumming Road north of Winterset between May 8th and mid-July. It appears that the road will remain open, but may be down to one lane with pilot cars directing traffic. Expect delays if you take Cumming Road from I-35 to get to Winterset, or take Highway 92 from I-35 instead.

From the Madison County Secondary Road Department:

Please access the map for this project at https://cfapps.iceasb.org/ICEASB/GISIII/RWNS/preview-roadwork-map.cfm?RC_Closure_ID=8195
Reason :  Project – Advance notice of future work
Start :  05/08/2017 @ 07:00 AM
End :  07/10/2017 @ 12:00 PM (unless we notify you otherwise)

Celebrate Spring in Madison County

posted in: Front Page, John Wayne, Spring | 0

All around us here in Madison County, life is reemerging with the start of spring! From newborn animals and blossoms on trees, to an uptake in tourists, it’s obvious that winter is a thing of the past. There are many ways to enjoy the spring season here in Madison County – a walk or drive through one of our beautiful city or county parks, shopping on our courthouse square, sipping wine or hard apple cider at one of our local wineries or The Winterset Cidery, or enjoying a soft-serve ice cream cone at Frostees, to name just a few. Of course, any visit to Madison County wouldn’t be the same without touring our world-famous covered bridges, or one of our museums (from John Wayne to history to quilting, we’ve got you covered!). While all of these and more are available to you anytime throughout the season, here are a few events you won’t want to miss this spring:

May 13, 4-7 pm: Winterset Wine Walk

Join us for samples of locally-made wines, enjoy shopping specials, prizes and much more at participating businesses around Winterset’s courthouse square. Participants receive a commemorative wine glass at the Madison County Chamber of Commerce. Register early as this is one of our most popular events!

May 25-27: John Wayne Birthday Celebration

The 10th Anniversary John Wayne Birthday Celebration takes place in the Duke’s birthplace of Winterset, and includes many activities for the whole family to enjoy! The guest of honor at this year’s celebration is actor/singer Johnny Crawford, best known as young Mark McCain, Chuck Connors’ son in the hit series The Rifleman. And, of course, he had the honor of being shot dead by John Wayne in Howard Hawks’ El Dorado (1967). Mr. Crawford will perform at this year’s benefit dinner and will be present at various events to share stories and sign autographs. Check this link for new additions to the lineup of activities as they are added, and a full schedule coming soon.

Thursday, May 25th

7:00 pmStagecoach at the Iowa Theater with scheduled film introduction and post-screening discussion with Joseph Malham, author of John Ford: Poet in the Desert. Tickets are available at www.the-iowa.com/john-wayne-weekend/

Friday, May 26th
7:00 pmFort Apache at the Iowa Theater with scheduled film introduction and post-screening discussion with Joseph Malham, author of John Ford: Poet in the Desert. Tickets are available at www.the-iowa.com/john-wayne-weekend/

7:00-11:00 pmAnother enjoyable kickoff to the John Wayne Birthday Celebration will be the Country Barn Dance at the Madison County Fairgrounds. Last year’s wingding was a huge hit and revelers stayed way past closing to enjoy music, dancing and the camaraderie of John Wayne fans from across the country. Come early and admire the horses which will be participating in Saturday’s parade. Admission at the door is $8. Refreshments will be available.

Saturday, May 27th

9:00 amBeginning and ending at the John Wayne Birthplace Museum, the popular 5K Run/Walk benefits Community Resources in Service to People (C.R.I.S.P), the Winterset Rotary Scholarship Fund and the Winterset Skate Park. For registration information, contact Robert Kaldenberg at rakaldenberg@gmail.com or call 515-462-4731.

11:00 am – The 10th Anniversary John Wayne Birthday Celebration proudly welcomes back the world-renowned Wells Fargo Stagecoach. This crowd pleaser will be a featured attraction of the all-horse parade which will wind through the streets of historic Winterset. Nothing symbolizes the Old West better than the overland stage, especially since John Wayne rode to movie stardom in the 1939 film classic Stagecoach. The parade will also include riders and rolling stock from throughout the Midwest, and interested participants may contact Frank Santana for details (520) 241-6442.

Author John Farkis will be signing copies of his latest book, Alamo Village: How a Texas Cattleman Brought Hollywood to the Old West at the John Wayne Birthplace on Saturday, May 27th. Updated from his 2005 edition, Alamo Village has been greatly expanded with detailed information, fascinating insights, interesting interviews and numerous photographs about the important Texas film site.

Sundown (approximately 8:45PM)An outdoor screening of El Dorado on the Courthouse lawn with John Wayne Birthday Celebration headliner Johnny Crawford scheduled to attend.  FREE

Sunday, May 28th
The Grand Re-Opening of The Iowa Theater

The evening will kick off the rebirth of this Winterset landmark and give attendees the chance to be some the first audience members the new Iowa will welcome! Attend a 5:00 pm screening of the Iowa-based classic Field of Dreams and then at 7:00 pm enjoy the reopening party under the tent outside the Iowa on John Wayne Drive, or attend the reopening party at 7:00 pm and then relax for a screening of The Bridges of Madison County at 9:00 pm. Limited tickets available for those who choose to attend the party and both films.  At the party, enjoy heavy hors d’oeuvres and wine, and step on the red carpet for photo!  Your ticket also includes complimentary popcorn to enjoy during your movie. All proceeds from the evening support the Iowa Theater’s year-round efforts as a non-profit organization. More information is available at https://www.the-iowa.com/reopening-party/.


Friday, June 9th, 6-9 pm
Ladies Night Out
Participating merchants around Winterset’s town square host a special evening of shopping and pampering. The first 200 ladies to pre-register for the event receive a swag bag when they arrive at the Madison County Chamber of Commerce’s Welcome Center, and then enjoy an evening of special deals and in-store events, such as wine tasting, food sampling, pampering, and much more.

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 http://www.madisoncounty.com/shopping/.

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.   www.johnwaynebirthplace.museum

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 (www.coveredbridgeswinery.com), Madison County Winery (www.madisoncountywinery.com), Two Saints Winery (www.twosaintswinery.com), Winterset Cidery (www.wintersetcidery.com).

Dine and shop on Winterset’s historic town square.

Get inspired at the brand new Iowa Quilt Museum (www.iowaquiltmuseum.org).

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. (http://hinterlandiowa.com/)

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.   http://www.madisoncountyconservation.org/pammel-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 (www.madhausgallery.com).

Play pioneer at the 18-acre Madison County Historical Complex (www.historyonthehill.org).

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!