Travel & Tourism
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


News Releases - Travel & Tourism
Written by Jennifer Lown   
Friday, 02 May 2014 15:01

WHAT:  The Epic Iowa Road Trip will stop in Scott County and state and regional tourism officials will recognize contributions to the Iowa Tourism Industry by the Iowa 80 Group and Quad Cities Convention and Visitors Bureau.

WHEN:  Monday, May 5, 11:15-11:45 a.m. at the World’s Largest Truckstop, 755 W Iowa 80 Rd, Walcott

BACKGROUND:  The Epic Iowa Road Trip is a partnership among the Central Iowa Tourism Region, Eastern Iowa Tourism Association, Western Iowa Tourism Region and Iowa Tourism Office to promote tourism destinations in the state and raise awareness of tourism’s impact on Iowa’s economy. During the nine-day event (May 2-10), a specially wrapped motorcoach will travel nearly 2,100 miles promoting more than 60 tourism destinations in 33 counties and 46 communities.

State and regional tourism officials will recognize communities on the route for the contributions to Iowa Tourism Industry and the state’s economy. In 2012, tourism-related expenditures in Scott County were $592.38 million.

VISUALS:  Photo of the motorcoach available at

INTERVIEWS:  Shawna Lode, Iowa Tourism Office Manager and Carrie Koelker, Eastern Iowa Tourism Association Executive Director

2013 River to River Retro Road Trip Comments and 2014 update. PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Travel & Tourism
Written by Dave Darby   
Friday, 02 May 2014 14:32
You shared your comments with us and we listened. We even brought some of our commenters on board to help plan this year's event. We have created a webpage that will be your one stop shop for cruise information. It has a pre-registration form, route maps, and even a place to order T shirts. It is a work in progress, but over the next few weeks, more and more information and maps will be added. Visit us here.
We have two great cruises in store this year, one for motorcycles  June 12-14 and the Retro Road Trip in October. (9-12)
We have a special Cruise the Ones event planned for Thursday October 9th, with downtown restaurants participating. Friday morning the Davenport police will give us an escort out of town. If all goes well, we will have no stops until we get to Iowa City. Our lunch stop will be the Iowa River Power restaurant. From there we cruise through some of the Amana colonies, and a beverage stop in Victor, Iowa. Friday overnight is in scenic Grinnell, iowa, with a car show, some awesome restaurants  and scenery, a car show, and a reception at the Iowa Transportation museum.
Saturday we take a tour of Karl Kustoms, before bypassing Des Moines on scenic Iowa Highway 44, and US 169 down to Adel to rejoin Historic US 6 at its best. Lunch will be a choice of stops along the White Pole Road, and then Council Bluffs, who has stepped up to the plate in a big way. Bluffs Downtown is putting on a Historic Route 6 fest with live music and a vintage costume contest. They want to put on the biggest even of the cruise, and make it a yearly thing.
Sunday, we visit Freedom Rock before we head to the Winterset Covered Bridge Fest and Car Show.
We sure appreciated you coming with us last year, and look forward to seeing many of you again this year. That web page again?

Governor Quinn Announces Third Consecutive Year of Record-Breaking Statewide Tourism Numbers PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Travel & Tourism
Written by Katie Hickey   
Thursday, 01 May 2014 08:04

U.S. Visitors to Illinois Rose 4.5 Percent to 103 Million in 2013

CHICAGO – Governor Pat Quinn today announced that Illinois welcomed more than 103.5 million U.S. residents to the state in 2013, the largest number of domestic visitors to Illinois ever and the third consecutive year of record-breaking numbers. The 2013 total was up 4.5 percent from the prior year, and one of the strongest growth sectors in 2013 was leisure travel, up 5.7 percent from 2012.

“For the third year in a row, Illinois has welcomed a record number of visitors, demonstrating that tourism is thriving in the Land of Lincoln,” Governor Quinn said. “The tourism industry plays a vital role in driving the Illinois economy forward by supporting local communities and providing quality jobs across the state.”

The increase in domestic visitors helped to drive the 2013 hotel-motel tax collections to more than $235 million, a 7.2 percent increase over 2012 and another record.

“The tourism industry is an integral part of the Illinois economy. These impressive visitor numbers demonstrate that Illinois has become a premier travel destination in the United States,” said Adam Pollet, director of the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO), the agency that includes the Illinois Office of Tourism.

The DCEO tourism office has ramped up a momentum-building spring and summer advertising campaign that has already pushed consumer inquiries to an all-time high in 2014. The fresh, light-hearted advertising campaign features the popular “Mini Abe,” a miniature Abraham Lincoln who seeks to inspire people to discover the attractions, festivals, historical sites and adventures throughout Illinois. One Mini Abe commercial already has more than 1.7 million YouTube views.

“We are constantly developing cutting-edge and memorable ways to encourage visitors to explore Illinois,” Illinois Office of Tourism Director Jen Hoelzle said. “These record-breaking numbers prove that Illinois is top-of-mind for travelers.”

The numbers, compiled by the firm D.K. Shifflet & Associates Ltd., do not include visitors from overseas. Data for international travel is expected to be available in June.

The 2013 domestic numbers come just before National Travel and Tourism Week May 3-11, which will be marked by events celebrating the power of travel and tourism throughout Illinois and the nation.

The Illinois Office of Tourism promotes visits to Illinois domestically and internationally and helps the tourism industry grow throughout the state. The office is funded by a percentage of the state’s hotel-motel tax revenue.

Destination information, trip inspiration ideas, the 2014 Illinois Travel Guide and more can be found at or by calling 1-800-2CONNECT.


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