The Jefferson Chimes

A musical contest has been announced by the Mahanay Music Committee of the Bell Tower Community Foundation.  An original, short, musical phrase that can be played on the carillon will be used to call people to special events in the community.  Musicians should consider how the Kentucky Derby bugle call, the Westminster Chimes, or the CBS tones are recognizable and serve as a brand.  This contest would create an identifiable musical phrase specific to the Mahanay Memorial Carillon Tower as a fanfare before special events.

Musicians are asked to submit entries in written notation by June 1 to mahanaybelltower@gmail.com.  A suggestion is to use the two octaves above and below middle C.  A committee will review all entries by listening to them played on the carillon and make a recommendation to the Greene County Board of Supervisors.  The winning fanfare will be officially named “The Jefferson Chimes” and debuted at the 2023 Bell Tower Festival calling people to the Opening Ceremonies.  This chime will continue to be used to call people to other special events in the community.

For more information or questions, please go to www.mahanaybelltower.org or contact music coordinator Peg Raney.  

Opening for 2023

The Mahanay Memorial Carillon Tower, recently ranked as the #1 rural tourist attraction in Iowa, officially is open weekends in May. Hours are Saturday and Sunday from 10 am – 4 pm. The tower will be open daily from Memorial Day weekend through the end of September. The hours remain at 10 am – 4 pm. Appointments for special tours during the week in May or at other hours during the season when the tower is not open to the public can be made by calling the Welcome Center at 515-386-2155.

The four octaves of bells play the Westminster chimes at each quarter hour throughout the day. A carillon concert of two songs is played after each hour from 8 am – 8 pm. Mahanay Maestros, local and area musicians, provide special Tower Tunes Live concerts during the season. For a schedule go to www.mahanaybelltower.org

An elevator, handicap accessible, takes visitors to the glass-enclosed Nally Observation Deck up 128 feet for a view of the landscape of five counties and the five installations of rooftop art on buildings around the square. Local artist Dana Harrison is currently working on another rooftop art creation, a project of the Tower View Team of Jefferson Matters. Four new Ring Out for Art sculptures have been installed for the season on the Bell Tower Plaza.

The lobby has souvenirs and a video and historical items telling the story of the tower and the Jefferson community. A display honors the many Bell Tower of Fame Award recipients. The hospitality-trained tower tour guides are very knowledgeable about the history of the tower and Greene County.

Tower admission is $5 for adults. Youth 18-years old and younger are admitted free, courtesy of annual sponsors. The 2023 sponsors are the Victor Zike Trust and the Rosalene (Kay) Zike Trust, in memory of the parents of Bell Tower Foundation President Carole Custer. Season passes are available at the tower for $25.

For more information about the tower and its activities, follow the Mahanay Bell Tower Facebook page and check out its website www.mahanaybelltower.org

Tower Open by Appt.

As families and friends gather for the holidays, the Mahanay Bell Tower may be one of those memorable places to experience. The Tower is closed for the season but tours can be arranged by appointment by calling The Welcome Center at 515-386-2155. The Bell Tower staff will be happy to meet you at the Tower and give a special tour.

The Christmas bells have been hung in the Paul Nally Observation Deck and are a beacon to those coming into the community. The bells continue to play the Westminster Chimes at each quarter hour and two songs after each hour from 8 am – 8 pm.

Greene County Foundation Grant

Thanks to a Greene County Community Foundation Grant, the Bell Tower Foundation was able to continue to market the Mahanay Bell Tower this past year with billboards on Hwy. 30, Hwy. 144 & Hwy. 4. Several of the billboards announced the Tower as Rural Iowa’s #1 Attraction for 2021.

These well-traveled roads have brought many visitors to Jefferson and the Mahanay Bell Tower again during 2022. The Bell Tower Foundation submitted a grant for this marketing because hotel/motel tax from the previous year of COVID was not available.

The Board of Directors of the Bell Tower Foundation and the many visitors who enjoyed the Tower are grateful for this award.

Bells Are Ringing!

The Mahanay Memorial Carillon is ringing again! The problem with the controller has been fixed by the Verdin Company of Ohio and the bells can now chime. Each hour and quarter hour, the bells play the Westminster Chimes. Two songs are played several minutes after each hour from 8 am – 8 pm. Visitors love hearing the bells ring and the community is glad to hear them again too!

Visit the Mahanay Bell Tower!

The Mahanay Bell Tower is now open daily from 10 am – 4 pm. Our friendly staff will share the story of Floyd and Dora Mahanay in our lovely lobby area. An elevator will take you to the Paul Nally Observation deck which is all enclosed with glass and air-conditioned, so easy for visitors to see the magnificent view. The Iowa countryside, Jefferson downtown, and installations of rooftop art are enjoyed by all ages. The 47 bell carillon plays throughout the day. The Westminster chimes are played each quarter hour and two songs are played after each hour from 8 am – 8 pm. Jefferson’s downtown is full of art and very pedestrian-friendly, so plan to spend the day!

Adults are just $3 and all youth age 18 and younger are free courtesy of our sponsor for 2022, the Dean & Lois McAtee Trust.

Festival is smashing success!

The 2022 Bell Tower Festival that also celebrated Jefferson’s 150th birthday was an outstanding success. The attendance at the Mahanay Bell Tower over the three days was close to 1,000 visitors. So many comments of all ages on the bells ringing, rooftop art, view from the observation deck and friendly staff members were heard throughout the weekend.

The Bell Tower Festival was coordinated through The Jefferson Matters: Main Street & Chamber’s Events Team with Dr. Philip Heisterkamp serving as the chairperson for the third year. The attendance at the festival as a whole was greater than those of recent years. Other than a few showers, the weather cooperated with mild temps and no wind! The downtown was showcased in all of its beauty to class reunions, families and friends who gathered for the annual festival.

Bell Tower Festival 2022

The Bell Tower Festival is ready to kick into gear for this weekend. The theme coincides with the 150th Sesquicentennial of Jefferson. Activities begin on the square on Thursday night with a fundraiser Dinner Party and continue throughout the weekend.

Check out this website for a full schedule of events and sign-ups for all of the activities. www.belltowerfestival.com

The Bell Tower Festival also offers info on Facebook & Instagram.

Chews Jefferson concerts every Wednesday

Chews Jefferson is a Wednesday lunch event for the summer.  It will begin on Wednesday, June 1 and continue each week through the end of August.  Residents and visitors are encouraged to order take-out lunch from the many restaurants in Jefferson, and enjoy a Tower Tunes Live concert downtown.  A variety of Mahanay Maestros will be playing live each Wednesday from 12:15 – 12:30 p.m.  Each will select their own playlist.  The lunch and the music will be a treat for all to enjoy!  

This popular event is a promotion coordinated with Jefferson Matters: A Main Street & Chamber Community and the Bell Tower Community Foundation.  

Annual Bell Tower Festival begins June 9 – 11

The annual Bell Tower Festival will also be the 150th Sesquicentennial for the City of Jefferson! Festivities kick off on Thursday, June 9 with a new fundraising street dinner. The festival is full of events, music, and hosts many class reunions on Friday, June 10 – Saturday, June 11.

Schedule of events

A full slate of activities planned is available at belltowerfestival.com or follow on Facebook at Bell Tower Festival or Instagram at Bell Tower Festival.