Outstanding Tourist Attraction in Iowa!

Iowa Tourism Organizations, Individuals Receive Awards at 2021 Conference April 28, 2021 (Des Moines, Iowa) — The Iowa Tourism Office and the Travel Federation of Iowa presented 25 awards recognizing excellence in the tourism industry at a ceremony today in Des Moines during the 2021 Iowa Tourism Conference.“These awards are a great opportunity to recognize our industry partners for their perseverance in the face of a pandemic,” said State Tourism Manager Amy Zeigler. “We celebrate their innovations in safely delivering memorable experiences to Iowa travelers.”Awards, divided into metro and rural distinctions, were made in 13 categories. In addition, conference attendees voted for the People’s Choice Award; nominees were the second-highest scoring nominations.  

The complete list of 2021 Iowa Tourism Award recipients:

Outstanding Attraction
Mahanay Memorial Carillon Bell Tower, Jefferson (Rural)
Three Pines Farm, Cedar Falls (Metro)

Outstanding Community
Clear Lake (Rural)
Cedar Rapids (Metro)

Outstanding Dining Business
Grace on Main, Elk Horn (Rural)
Butcher’s Brewhuis & In’t Veld Meat Market, Pella (Metro)

Outstanding Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Initiative 
NewBo City Market, Cedar Rapids (Metro)

Outstanding Event
Pizza on the Prairie, Orient (Rural)
Hickory Hills Holiday Lights, Waterloo (Metro) 

Outstanding Individual Leader
David Rettig, Amana Colonies (Rural)
Sara Olson, Sioux City (Metro)

Outstanding Lodging Property
Larch Pine Inn, Clear Lake (Rural)
The Hotel at Kirkwood Center, Cedar Rapids (Metro)

Outstanding Marketing Collaboration
Byways of Iowa Foundation, Postville (Rural)
Stephens Auditorium and ACTORS, Ames (Metro)

Outstanding Niche Market Initiative
Clear Lake Area Chamber of Commerce (Rural)
Visit Quad Cities (Metro)

Outstanding Promotional Material
Jefferson Matters: A Main Street & Chamber Community (Rural)
Greater Ottumwa Convention and Visitors Bureau (Metro)

Outstanding Retail Experience
Almost Famous Popcorn, Des Moines (Metro)

Outstanding Social Media Execution
Fayette County Conservation Board (Rural)
Greater Burlington Convention & Visitors Bureau (Metro)

Outstanding Website
Pocahontas County Economic Development Commission (Rural)
Visit Quad Cities (Metro)

People’s Choice Award
Black Capital of Iowa PassportTourism in Iowa generates nearly $9.3 billion in expenditures and $540 million in state taxes, while employing 70,700 people statewide. The Iowa Tourism Office is part of the Iowa Economic Development Authority. For more information, visit traveliowa.com.




New Bell Tower Music Policy in Jefferson Means Music Will Ring Once Again

The Mahanay Memorial Carillon Tower will once again have music ringing from the 47-bells.

The Board of Supervisors approved a music policy that outlines requirements that must be followed in order for live and pre-programmed music to be played on the bell tower. Some of the main requirements include not allowing outside requests for music to be made, only certain days and times will be allowed for live performances that are performed by an approved list of 80 maestros, and pre-programmed music will be played after every top of the hour chime from 8am-8pm. The policy also stipulates from William Floyd Mahanay’s will when he donated the tower that 50-percent of the music that is played must be sacred and patriotic. 

The Supervisors decided to temporarily suspend all music from the bell tower this past January after they denied a request to have patriotic music played on Inauguration Day. Since then a committee with County Attorney Thomas Laehn, some of the Supervisors and members of the Bell Tower Community Foundation worked to draft the finalized policy. 

Supervisor Chair John Muir believes the policy makes it more official of the previous agreement between the County and the Bell Tower Community Foundation, which is the organization that helps to enhance the bell tower.

“We took for granted how it was ran, what went on and what decisions were made. It was pointed out to us that there were some cracks that we needed to seal up to make sure we had everything covered. I think they worked together and went through it thoroughly so that everybody’s interests were taken care of.”

The Board also approved Peg Raney as the music coordinator for four years and Bill Monroe as the Mahanay Musician for four years. Raney shares her experience working on the policy as a member of the foundation.

“We appreciate that the Supervisors as owners of the tower itself, we really appreciate this relationship. We just really look forward to having the bells play again and see how we can move forward here this summer.”

A copy of the policy can be found below.  


April 28, 2021 – Raccoon Valley Radio

Bell Tower to Open Weekends in May

An iconic structure in Jefferson will be reopening to the public soon.

The Mahanay Memorial Carillon Tower in Jefferson will be open to the public Saturdays and Sundays in May from 10am-4pm. Tour Director Pat Richards says last year the bell tower was closed for a variety of reasons, including repairing some of the bells, to window replacements and having to be closed because of the pandemic. She is excited for the upcoming season and to welcome visitors back.

“We not only act as tour guides for our bell tower, we’re ambassadors for the community, which is not hard work at all, it sells itself. But it’s so much fun to go up in our elevator to the observation deck and point out all the great things in Jefferson and hear all of the wonderful comments that people make.”

Admission is $3 for adults and those 18 and younger are free due to the sponsorship of the Jefferson Rotary Club.   

April 26, 2021 – Raccoon Valley Radio