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Destination Iowa: Pella

Courtesy of The Record

See all the photos shot for this feature by clicking here.

More than Just a Tulip Festival,
Pella Offers Year Round Sites to See

There’s a little touch of the Netherlands in Marion County.

Located on State Highway 163, Pella is about 43 miles south-southeast of Des Moines. This picturesque community was founded in 1847 by Dominie (Dutch for Reverend) Scholte and the group of 800 immigrants who came to America in search of religious freedom.

Pella honors its Dutch heritage the first full weekend of every May with its annual Tulip Festival. Parades, flower shows, antique car displays, and more Dutch food than you can sample in a day are perennial parts of this three-day event.

This year Pella celebrated its 75th Tulip Festival by setting a world record. 2,604 dancers put on their Klompen (wooden shoes) and danced. Completely surrounding Pella’s Central Park in the downtown area, those involved filled the streets three lines deep and spilled out past the park on both Main and Franklin streets. The Guiness Book of World Records was on hand to authenticate the record setting 5-minute dance.

However, you are not limited to the first weekend in May for experiencing a touch of Dutch hospitality. The Dutch storefronts are visible year-round and decorated for the holidays in the winter. Many of the museums are open ten months out of the year. Pella is also home to North America’s largest working grain windmill.

The Scholte House Museum was the home of Dominie Scholte and his family. It is open for self-guided tours Monday–Saturday, 1-4 p.m., March through December. You can find this museum at 728 Washington Street just north of the square.

Just past downtown on Franklin Street is the Vermeer Windmill, Pella Welcome Center and Historical Dutch Village. This block-sized complex is the home to a whole series of interconnected museums. The Vermeer Mill is an actual working grain mill built in Holland and shipped to America piece-by-piece. Wyatt Earp’s boyhood home is also part of the complex. Many other daily aspects of a typical Dutch village, including a Klompen (wooden shoe) maker are on display as well. The village is open to the public 9 a.m.–5 p.m., Monday through Saturday, March to December, weather permitting.
A replica canal and working Klokkenspiel have been built over the alleyways of the south side of Franklin Street. Pella’s historic Opera House has been restored to its former grandeur. The canal, Klokkenspiel, and Opera House are operational year-round.

The Pella Window Corporation has its worldwide headquarters in Pella. The Pella Corp. has restored the old Pella railroad depot and has turned it into a museum for the company. Pella is also the home of Vermeer Manufacturing and Central College.

Make plans now to schedule May 5, 6, and 7 of 2011 for the 76th annual Tulip Festival. But you’ll want to make note of these events as well.

• Kermis July 10, 10 a.m.-noon. Kermis is the traditional Dutch summer celebration of food and games. Kermis would be the Dutch equivalent of Conrad’s own Black Dirt Days.

• The Fall Festival September and Fall Flower & Quilt Show Sept. 24-25.

• The Sinterklaas (Santa Claus) Festival is Nov. 27. There will be a parade at 10 a.m. A party at Monarchs and the Opera House will follow with admission and reservation.

•The Village Christmas Walk runs from Nov. 13-Dec. 31. The Dutch Historical village is decorated for Christmas in traditional Dutch fashion.

May 26, 2010 Posted by | Destination Iowa, Life near an Iowa Cornfield | , , , , | 2 Comments

Goober’s Words of Wisdom: April Fools

Goober was asked by the editor of the paper that I work for if he would write a special column for April Fool’s Day.  You can find the paper’s website here.  Goober’s article is presented below.


Hello everybodies.

Mr. Chuck, the nice man who owns this paper, is letting me write a column since he is leaving for South Dakota for a few days. Because today is the first day of April, I thought I would tell you about some nice things to do for your friends today.

You can tape magnets to the bottom of an empty coffee cup, and attach it to the top of your car. Laugh at all the people who frantically try to get your attention as you drive by.

Set your friend’s alarm clock for the middle of the night and hide it somewhere in the room where they will have to get up and scramble around to turn it off. (This works even better if you sneak in after they go to sleep and unscrew the light bulb in their lamp. Then they’ll have to search for the clock in the dark!)

If your friend still has a phone with a hook that presses down when the handset is in the cradle, tape it down. When he or she answers a call it will keep ringing.

Take about 20 (or more) paper or plastic cups, place them on your friend’s desk and fill them with water. Then take a stapler and staple them all together. You can also put the cups on the floor blocking their door, or just about anywhere.

Leave a phone message for the victim that says that a “Mr. Lyon” called (or Mr. Behr also works), and wants to be called back. Then list the phone number of a local zoo.

You could take all of your friend’s paperclips and string them together in one chain.

Did your friend have a major project due today? Did they leave it out where you can find it? Just take some paper that looks somewhat similar to their project. Set their real project aside, and spill a drink or something messy all over the fake project.

Or you could…

What Mr. Chuck? You want me to do what? But nobody’s will want to read about that, History is boring. * sigh *

Mr. Chuck is making me tell you about the history of April Fool’s Day.

April Fool’s Day or All Fool’s Day began around 1582 in France with the reform of the calendar under King Charles Ix. I don’t know why King Ix changed the calendar but he did. He moved New Year’s Day from March 25 – April 1 (new year’s week? Why did it take them a week to celebrate New Year’s Day? Maybe that’s why he changed it). to January 1. Mainly because he wanted New York people to freeze outside while they watched that big ball drop.

Not everyone knew about this new calendar right away. Communication traveled slowly back then because the Internet had not been invented yet. Some peoples were only informed of the change several years later. Other people who knew about the change but didn’t like the government telling them what to do, were more rebellious and refused to acknowledge the change. They continued to celebrate the New Year in the spring on April 1.

All of these peoples who celebrated New Year’s in April were called “fools” by everybody who celebrated the New Year in January by freezing. The peoples who celebrated in the spring were made fun of and sent on “fool errands” and had other practical jokes played on them.

This changed over time and a custom of prank-playing continued on the first day of April even after everybody started to celebrate the new year by freezing in January. This tradition eventually spread to places like to England and Scotland in the 18th century and was introduced to the American colonies by the English and the French. Because America is a big country and peoples all over the world like to do what Americans do (they don’t like it when we tell them what to do) April Fool’s Day has become a world wide holiday. Each country celebrates the holiday in its own way because they want to be different.

In Scotland, for instance, April Fool’s Day is devoted to pranks involving your bottom end and as such is called Taily Day. The butts (no pun intended) of these jokes are known as April ‘Gowk’, another name for cuckoo bird. Does that mean the “Kick Me” sign can be traced back to the Scottish observance?

In England, jokes are played only in the morning. I don’t know why people play jokes in the morning. I think you’d be better to stay up late and play jokes on the peoples still in bed. Anyway England ‘fools’ are called ‘gobs’ or ‘gobby’ and the victim of a joke is called a ‘noodle.’ It was considered bad luck to play a practical joke on someone after noon. The best way to avoid being an April Fool in England is to sleep late.

In Rome, April Fool’s Day is called the Festival of Hilaria and takes place on March 25. Why the Romans have April Fool’s Day in March is something I don’t know. It celebrates the resurrection of the god Attis, and is also referred to as “Roman Laughing Day.”

In Portugal, April Fool’s Day falls on the Sunday and Monday before lent. In this celebration, many people throw flour at their friends. That’s not a very creative joke. I can think better things to throw at your friends. Flour just gets in your hair.

So, no matter where you happen to be in the world on April 1, don’t be surprised if April fools fall playfully upon you.


(Editor’s Note: Steve Nibbelink, our ad designer, is also the leader of One Way Express, a local puppet troupe from Holland, Iowa. His alter-ego, Goober the Puppet, has entertained folks in the tri-county area since 2005).

April 1, 2010 Posted by | Goober's Place (One Way Express) | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment