Travel & Tourism
Boy Scouts of America “Prepared. For Life.” License Plate Now Available PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Travel & Tourism
Written by Robert Hopper   
Monday, 02 June 2014 10:38
DES MOINES, IA – (May 30, 2014) –The Boy Scouts of America today announced that the Iowa Department of Transportation is now offering a Boy Scouts of America “Prepared. For Life.” license plate.  The Iowa Secretary of State’s office will be the sponsoring agency for the new license plate.
“The Boy Scouts of America has served the youth, families, and communities of Iowa for over a century,” according to Robert Hopper, Scout Executive / CEO of Mid-Iowa Council.  “Scouts live in every county, in every zip code, and in every circumstance.  The new Boy Scouts “Be Prepared. For Life” License Plate will provide steady support for thousands of Iowa Scouts.”
“Boy Scouts teaches kids the important lessons of character, leadership, citizenship and fitness,” Secretary of State Matt Schultz said.  “As an Eagle Scout myself, I know those lessons will stick with kids for a lifetime and I’m honored to have the Iowa Secretary of State’s office sponsor the Boy Scout license plate.”
The application to request a Boy Scouts of America license plate is available at all local Boy Scout Council offices and websites in the state.  500 paid applications are required to be submitted prior to manufacture and distribution of the new plates.  All proceeds from the extra fees benefit Iowa Boy Scouts.
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About Mid-Iowa Council, Boy Scouts of America
The Mid-Iowa Council serves more than 20,000 members and has more than 5,000 volunteers in 27 counties in central and southern Iowa. The Mid-Iowa Council supports the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) in providing a program for boys and young adults to help build and enhance character, citizenship and fitness. Find out about Scouting in your hometown or neighborhood by calling 515-266-2135 or visiting

Four guesthouses offer great lodging options in LeClaire, Iowa. PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Travel & Tourism
Written by Cindy Bruhn   
Friday, 30 May 2014 10:33

LECLAIRE, Iowa – In addition to three hotels and a bed and breakfast, LeClaire has seen the emergence of guesthouses rounding out the lodging options. The first guesthouse was opened by Heidi and Robert Holst in 2010. The LeClaire River Loft at 114 N. Cody Road is a furnished vacation rental for two to four people in the heart of downtown LeClaire's shopping and dining district, and it has a river view. They offer “room service” from two of the restaurants across the street. A year later the LeClaire River Chateau at 402 N. Cody Road opened; it is a quaint three bedroom home overlooking the Mississippi River that sleeps up to nine people comfortably.

In October of 2013, The Shameless Chocoholic candy store opened at 200 Jones Street in a home that had formerly been a different business. The owners, Rebecca Burns and Jen Williams, decided to turn the upstairs of their building into a guesthouse and named it Sweet Dreams Guest House. It can accommodate up to four people.

The newest addition to the roster is Grasshopper’s Guesthouse opened in April of this year and is located right across from Antique Archaeology, Home of the American Pickers. It is owned by Kim and Rodney Collier who also own Grasshopper’s Gifts and Wine Cellar. The 1880 stucco guesthouse boasts a complete renovation with a huge deck facing the Mississippi River and sleeps six to eight guests. The main level can also be rented for celebrations such as a baby or bridal shower or a graduation party.

All of the guesthouses are fully furnished with every comfort you would find at home including WI-FI and cable TV. Three of them have laundry facilities and full kitchens. The attention to detail for optimal comfort and a relaxing getaway is evident at all the properties.

Find a complete list of LeClaire’s lodging options at:

LeClaire, Iowa is located at a point where the Mississippi River makes a sharp bend to the southwest. LeClaire's historic bond with the river and the bold men who tamed the Upper Rapids is still visible in the homes and buildings they left behind. On May 7, 1979, their homes were recognized as part of the nine-block Cody Road Historic District listed on the National Register of Historic Places. LeClaire’s other attractions include the Buffalo Bill Museum/Lone Star Stern Wheeler, Mississippi River Distilling Co., and Antique Archaeology, home of the American Pickers. • 563-289-4242 x1135 • This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Local safety advocate offers free bumper stickers to promote motorcycle safety PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Travel & Tourism
Written by Corey Walker   
Friday, 23 May 2014 11:42
DES MOINES  – A local attorney and motorcyclist is giving incentive to local drivers to be extra cautious of motorcyclists this Memorial Day Weekend by offering free bumper stickers and educational material free of charge to individuals and organizations across the state.
Corey Walker of Walker, Billingsley & Bair is all too familiar with the devastation that motorcycle accidents can cause, which is why his firm started the Look4Cycles campaign.
"We believe that rider safety is very important," Corey Walker said. "Keeping the public informed about motorcycles is one of the best ways to prevent a tragic accident."

Walker has helped hundreds of families navigate the complicated world of motorcycle accidents that often left them without their loved ones. Sadly, 92% of the motorcyclists involved in accidents in Iowa in 2013 alone did not survive the wrecks, according to the Iowa Department of Transportation (does not include drivers/passengers of other vehicles or pedestrians killed).

The purpose of Look4Cycles to encourage all types of drivers to pay attention to their surroundings and keep an extra eye out for motorcyclists as the weather becomes warmer. Majority of motorcycle accidents involving other vehicles are caused because the other driver did not detect and recognize motorcycles in traffic, or because the other vehicle did not see the motorcycle before the collision, or noticed the bike after it was too late to avoid the collision.

It is important to point out that intersections are the most likely place for motorcycle crashes to occur, since many drivers inadvertently violate the motorcycle's right-of-way or fail to stop due to distracted driving or cell phone use.

Looks4Cycles bumper stickers are offered completely free of charge and there is no limit to the number of stickers you can request. All drivers are urged to make use of this free service to  help spread the word about looking out for motorcycle riders. Mr. Walker is also offering his time - free of charge - to speak to groups or to new driver's education classes interested in learning about motorcycle safety for both riders and non-riders. 

"If even one person sees the bumper sticker on another car and it reminds them to take an extra glance at an intersection, preventing an accident and saving the life of a passing motorcycle rider, then the campaign will have been worth it," Corey Walker said.

Stickers and other educational material can be obtained by visiting or by calling 515-661-5542.
The mission of Walker, Billingsley & Bair is to help those injured by the negligence of others, while at the same time focusing on educating the community on how to prevent similar situations. Headquartered in Newton, Iowa, Walker, Billingsley & Bair has four locations to serve those in need of legal representation and we offer complimentary case evaluations to anyone injured in Iowa including the Des Moines, Iowa area.

Review of Iowa Great River Road Stakeholder Meeting in Davenport‏‏‎ PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Travel & Tourism
Written by Scott Tunnicliff   
Tuesday, 13 May 2014 12:16


"We need to think about the time people have to spend in our area. It’s not just about the marketing, the promotion, the Commissions, all the things we want to do. It’s about making sure that our guests and our residents can easily invest their time in enjoying the Mississippi River along the Iowa Great River Road,” remarked Joe Taylor, President and CEO of the Quad Cities Convention and Visitors Bureau at an Iowa Great River Road stakeholder meeting held at the Putnam Museum on April 10.

Stakeholders along the Iowa Great River Road National Scenic Byway recently participated in six stakeholders meetings where they shared their views on ways to enhance their Byway in the communities where they live, work, and play. These meetings, hosted by the Iowa Mississippi River Parkway Commission-- the managing organization for the Iowa Great River Road--are part of a multi-year effort to develop a new Corridor Management Plan for this national treasure. The Iowa Great River Road runs through all ten Iowa counties along the Mississippi River and annually attracts visitors from across the United States and around the world.

Stakeholder meetings were held in six Great River Road communities - Camanche, Marquette, Burlington, Muscatine, Davenport, and Dubuque between April 2 and April 15. Nearly 200 people participated and each meeting featured a unique panel of local, state, and federal stakeholders discussing the future of this important travel destination.

Panelists at the meeting in Davenport included Shawna Lode, Manager, Iowa Tourism Office; Joe Taylor, President and CEO, Quad Cities Convention and Visitors Bureau; Tim Huey, Director, Scott County Planning and Development; and Terri Applegate, LeClaire City Council.

Participants recognized the Iowa Great River Road as one of Iowa’s greatest tourism and economic development resources, but one which may be underutilized and underfunded. A key need expressed was for improved access to digital information about the Iowa Great River Road and its resources – through an effective website, downloadable smartphone applications, and with social media sites like Facebook or Twitter. Meeting participants also voiced a need for more regular communications between stakeholder organizations along the route to share information, generate ideas and assign responsibility for projects which could support the current efforts of the 10-member Iowa Mississippi River Parkway Commission. Concerns were also expressed about how the Iowa Great River Road could reach its true potential without currently having any paid or dedicated staff and very little dedicated budget for projects and promotion. “The (Iowa Mississippi River) Parkway Commission can be an advocate and encourage local residents and governments to do a better job (at providing and protecting amenities for visitors and residents),” suggested Tim Huey, Director of Scott County Planning and Development.

Panelists and audience members also discussed what a powerful draw the Mississippi River is for tourism and how locals sometimes overlook the sheer majesty of the mighty river and its potential for growing local economies. Visitors coming to the area want to see the River via overlooks, want to sit along its banks, want to reach in and touch the current, and the Iowa Great River Road can become an even more powerful tool for providing those experiences. “The Great River Road is a major tourism asset in Iowa,” said Iowa Tourism Office Manager Shawna Lode. “Every year it hosts millions of visitors from around the globe. Our challenge as Iowans is to appreciate its great potential as an economic driver and tell its story as a unique and memorable travel destination.” Sharing the unique stories of the area was a prime goal advocated at the meeting. “I don’t know if we can promote stories enough. There are many ways we can tell the stories of this Great River Road that we live on, whether it’s in the past or in the future. It’s a great heritage that we pass on to our families,” remarked LeClaire City Councilperson Terri Applegate.

Supporting the completion of the Mississippi River Trail, the bike route which closely follows the Iowa Great River Road, was another need that was discussed. Participants also stressed the importance of quality signs to properly mark the route of the Iowa Great River Road and direct travelers to its wealth of resources. Integrating local, regional, and state maps with consistent marking of the route with the Great River Road pilot wheel symbol was cited as a critical need.

During the meeting in Davenport, David L. Dahlquist Associates, the byway consultant retained to prepare the updated Management Plan, also provided an overview of visitor and resident surveys conducted along the route in 2013 which indicate high levels of awareness and support for the Iowa Great River Road.

Following the last meeting held in Dubuque on April 15, Commission Chair, John Goodmann observed, “The discussions provided by the 34 panel members and all of the attendee comments and suggestions at the six meetings will provide highly valuable input as the Commission moves forward to consider options for future direction and action.”

A full report of the 2014 Iowa Great River Road stakeholder meetings is being prepared. To request a copy of the report, please contact John Goodmann, Chair of the Iowa Mississippi River Parkway Commission at (563) 599-4350 or David L. Dahlquist, Byway Planner, at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or (515) 963-1989.

Iowa Irish Fest Celebrates Irish Culture and Heritage, Aug. 1-3 PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Travel & Tourism
Written by Lori Blackburn   
Monday, 12 May 2014 09:29

Summary: Plan now to attend the eighth-annual festival, featuring an all-star entertainment lineup and fun for all ages. Gaelic Storm, Red Hot Chilli Pipers and Trinity Irish Dancers headline three days of Irish music, food, sports and culture in northeast Iowa.

WATERLOO, Iowa – From internationally touring musicians and local dancers to traditional artisans and Highland games, the Iowa Irish Fest promises three days of fun, food, culture and music for thousands of residents and visitors.

Beginning at 4 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 1, and continuing through 5 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 3, the Iowa Irish Fest will infuse Lincoln Park, E. 4th and Lafayette Streets in downtown Waterloo, with the sights, sounds and flavors of Irish heritage.

“We’re very excited to present another weekend of Irish music, food, dance, sports and culture,” said festival director Rory Dolan Sr. “We have grown in attendance every year and feel we will continue to do so this year with the entertainment lineup that we’ll showcase. Although we mainly draw guests from the Midwest, we look forward to hosting guests from across the nation and around the world. In the past we have welcomed visitors from 38 different states and five different countries.”

Four stages will feature over 20 local, regional and internationally touring performers. The Park Avenue stage will host headliners in Lincoln Park. The Lincoln Savings Bank stage will host more traditional acts on E. 4th and Lafayette. And Jameson’s Public House on E. 4th Street will host a third performance stage. There also will be a Cultural Events Center Stage in the east corner of Lincoln Park.                         

Gaelic Storm will once again headline all three days of the festival, along with the Trinity Irish Dancers. The Red Hot Chilli Pipers join the headline list on Sunday.

With Billboard’s No. 1 World Album, “The Boathouse,” Gaelic Storm blends indie folk and world grooves with Celtic tradition for an acoustic production that brings fans to their feet 200 days a year. The group’s ability to incorporate a rock sensibility into their sound affords them rare crossover appeal. “The Boathouse” is the their fourth album to debut at No. 1 on Billboard’s World Album chart. Gaelic Storm will perform at 9:30 p.m. Friday, 10 p.m. Saturday and 12:45 p.m. Sunday on the Park Avenue stage in Lincoln Park.

The Red Hot Chilli Pipers are another returning fan favorite, with their signature bagpipes-with-attitude show that will rock the Park Avenue stage Sunday at 3 p.m. The most famous bagpipe band on the planet hails from Scotland and has spent the past decade touring the world and winning awards with their groundbreaking fusion of traditional Scottish music and rock/pop anthems, which they proudly call “Bagrock.”

Trinity Irish Dancers, a touring troupe of young dancers based in Chicago and Milwaukee, has been winning championships and impressing crowds with traditional Irish dance for 30 years. With a loyal local following, the Trinity Irish Dancers have been part of Iowa Irish Fest since its inception in 2007. They will perform at 4:30 p.m. Friday, 1 and 5 p.m. Saturday and 11:30 a.m. Sunday on the Park Avenue stage. They will also host two dance clinics.

The Cultural Events Center Stage will feature traditional Irish performances in dance, music, storytelling, theater and more. There will even be an Irish stew and soda bread cook-off. (See the attached complete entertainment schedule.)

The weekend will also include:

  • 5k walk/run, Saturday

  • Family Fun Area on East 4th Street and Mulberry Street

  • Variety of food vendors, from traditional Irish to American favorites

  • Traditional Gaelic Highland Games

  • Crowning of royalty and contests

  • Irish Fest merchandise, kilts and Irish heritage items for sale

  • Sunday morning outdoor Mass

Admission is just $15 for all three days, and children 12 and under are free. For more information or to volunteer, visit


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