Iowa Communities Deemed Arts, Culture Hubs

Elkader in northeast Iowa was one of the five cities throughout Iowa designated as Cultural and Entertainment Districts by the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs. Photo: Gingersnap by Catherine

Well, five more communities in Iowa are officially cool—and have the paperwork to prove it. The Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs recently designated Ames Main Street, Cedar Rapids’ District of Czech Village and New Bohemia, Des Moines’ Avenues of Ingersoll and Grand, Main Street Elkader and the Spencer Arts District as Iowa Cultural and Entertainment Districts.

The announcement expands Iowa’s total list of districts to 13, each with a critical mass of public artwork, museums, performing arts venues, festivals and other activities within a walkable area.

Clayton County’s Elkader, for example, recently opened two art galleries and unveiled a half-dozen murals in its “Art in the Alley” display, where visitors can pose for photos during a walk- or drive-through tour at the Harvest Festival on Oct. 10. Folks can cross the iconic Keystone Bridge, admire the restored clocktower on the Clayton County Courthouse, or rent canoes or kayaks on the Turkey River and then float back downtown for a fresh doughnut or two (or three …) at Pedretti’s Bakery.

“We have so many new businesses that involve arts and culture,” Main Street Elkader Director Kate Lowe says. “That really puts us on the map.”

You can find the other Iowa Cultural and Entertainment Districts in Cedar Falls, Davenport, Dubuque, Fairfield, LeClaire, Mason City, Mount Vernon and West Des Moines.

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