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International Festival @ Heritage Park of North Iowa

international logo copy

International Festival at Heritage Park

Contact: Becky Gjendem, Steering Committee
1225 Highway 69, S., Forest City, IA 50436

Heritage Park of North Iowa to celebrate second annual International Festival on June 27-28, 2015
FOREST CITY, Iowa – Heritage Park of North Iowa will hold its second annual International Festival at Heritage Park on June 27-28, 2015, at Heritage Park of North Iowa in Forest City. FREE ADMISSION with an item for local food banks.
The International Festival is a celebration of global heritage, food, music, dance, art and games for all ages. The family-friendly festival will include a walking parade for all, educational demonstrations and lots of hands-on fun. It will offer the following entertainment and much, much more!
The International Festival will have four venues: 1) the Pavilion, 2) Storytelling in the Steel Wheel Cafe, 3) the Village Green and 4) Beaver Creek Church. It will also have children’s activities near the Pavilion.
Beaver Creek Church is where Heritage Park’s resident pastor, Doug Snyder, will lead an ecumenical service at 10 a.m. on Sunday. Ross Sutter and Kris Meyer will participate in the service. The World Kitchen will be in the Beaver Creek Church basement.
Arrowsmith Family will provide crafts for children of all ages. Valorie Arrowsmith works with many Nordic groups to help children and adults on their journeys to learn more about their culture and heritage through language and culture day camps, concerts, Nordic touring group arrangements, host home opportunities, school residencies, worship services and traditional festivals.
Duniya Drum & Dance exists to build a diverse community in support of the arts of the African Diaspora, specifically drum and dance. Duniya strives to provide a platform for artists to offer educational opportunities to a broad audience.
General Store will sell Heritage Park T-shirts, bags and hats and other local items.
Hoop Dancer — Lane Jensen is a Navajo/Pima-Maricopa hoop dancer and founder of Yellowhouse Dancers in Arizona.
Ice Cream Shop will be run by the Hanlontown Community Club.
Malek’s Fishermen Band is one of the finest polka bands in the Midwest. It continues the great tradition of dance music excellence started by Syl Malek in the 1930s with Malek Bros. Accordion Band. The modern band plays a variety of dance music that includes traditional polkas, waltzes, two-steps and schottisches, as well as country, big band, Dixieland and other dance-hall favorites. It features a unique mix of brass, reeds, concertina, rhythm and vocal harmonies. Now in its third generation, Malek’s Fishermen Band plays a mix of Czech/Bohemian and German styles of music for dances and festivals throughout the Midwest.
Tom Melville is a cricket player, author and leading authority on the history of American cricket. He has been demonstrating 19th century cricket games for more than 20 years. Visitors to this year’s International Festival will get to join in the games, which will be run throughout the festival and open to all. No experience is required!
Kris Meyer of Waverly, Iowa, has been a storyteller for more than 28 years. She is well-known for her portrayal of Mrs. Claus on the radio, and she has a background in education as a teacher and counselor.
Nordic Dancers of Decorah is an exclusive group of children whose purpose is to keep alive the traditional folk dances of Norway. The group was founded in 1966 and closely resembles local folk-dancing groups in Norway.
Steel Wheel Cafe — Deb Fardal of Forest City will manage Heritage Park’s cafe, serving selections from Sum Hing restaurant, as well as other favorites.
Ross Sutter is a singer and musician who teaches singing and dancing of Scandinavian, Scottish and Irish songs, as well as American traditional and popular songs. Sutter accompanies himself on guitar, dulcimer, button accordion and bodhran, the Irish goat-skin drum. He travels around the country performing and holding school residencies and workshops. He is a favorite at Forest City Community Schools, as well as many others in the area.
Arlan Whitebreast is a Meskwaki Fancy Dancer who performs with rainbow-colored headdresses, pulsating drumming and fancy footwork in dances passed down by his ancestors.
Nothando Zulu is a performing artist, master storyteller, monologist and multicultural specialist who has been performing for children and adults for more than 20 years. She draws on her rich heritage as a farm girl from Virginia to recreate colorful characters found in African and African-American folktales.
World Kitchen — Anne Bakke of Forest City will coordinate a busy schedule for the World Kitchen in the Beaver Creek Church basement on both days. See lefse and kolache demonstrations and taste ethnic goodies from around the world.
In addition to the festival activities, many of the buildings will be open for tours:  two log houses, a trapper’s cabin, houses from 1900 and 1930, a country store and the Holtan Art Museum, as well as the Timberland Museum, Gas Tractor Museum, Steam Threshing Museum, Fire Station Museum, Transportation Museum, Filling Station Museum and the Doll House Museum.
The International Festival at Heritage Park is made possible by a grant from the Sons of Norway Foundation, the John K. & Luise V. Hanson Foundation, and WCTA (Winnebago Cooperative Telecom Association), as well as donations from many individuals and companies: Bill’s Family Foods, Farmers Coop Association, Holland Contracting, KIOW, MBT (Manufacturers Bank and Trust Company), Mercy Medical Center, TSB (Titonka Savings Bank), Winnebago County Farm Bureau.
Heritage Park of North Iowa received a Rural Arts Development Project Grant from the Iowa Arts Council, a division of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs to support the International Festival at Heritage Park on June 27-28, 2015. Funding for the Rural Arts Development Project Grant is made possible by an annual appropriation from the Iowa Legislature to the Arts Division of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs (Iowa Arts Council) and by the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency.
The Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs is responsible for developing the state’s interest in the areas of the arts, history and other cultural matters with the advice and assistance from its two divisions: the State Historical Society of Iowa and the Iowa Arts Council. DCA preserves, researches, interprets and promotes an awareness and understanding of local, state and regional history and stimulates and encourages the study and presentation of the performing and fine arts and public interest and participation in them. It implements tourism-related art and history projects as directed by the General Assembly and designs a comprehensive, statewide, long-range plan with the assistance of the Iowa Arts Council to develop the arts in Iowa. More information about DCA is available at
For more information, check the International Festival page on the Heritage Park website:, as well as the festival’s Facebook page: These pages will be updated with new information as it becomes available.
For more information, contact the festival steering committee at or Becky Gjendem at 641-590-5194.
The International Festival at Heritage Park is an event of the Heritage Park Project Committee, which is overseen by the Winnebago Historical Society, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization housed in the 1899 Mansion Museum at 336 N. Clark St., in Forest City. Heritage Park is a 91-acre open-air museum on the south edge of Forest City. Its main entrance is near the intersection of B14 and U.S. Highway 69. GPS coordinates: 1811 Sage Court. The WHS mission is to bring history to life by educating children and adults through the Mansion Museum, reintroducing families to their past through the Leibrand-Whiteis Historical Center, and recreating the lives and livelihoods of our ancestors at Heritage Park of North Iowa.


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Puckerbrush Days 2015

FBPuckerbrush2015cover copy  July 16-19, 2015

Puckerbrush Days, Forest City’s annual community celebration is fast approaching, and as always there will be a number of fun and exciting events and activities going on around town.

The history behind the unique name of the celebration is an unusual one. Early on, the town was surrounded by a dense bush called Puckerbrush. The bush had a berry on it and when eaten, it would make you pucker. Although the bush has long been gone from Forest City, the name stands as a symbol of city’s history.

Throughout the four day celebration, which spans from July 16 to the 19th, there are numerous events and entertainment opportunities available for families and community members to do, ranging from the Rotary Club’s chicken feed, to new events such as the Dog agility demonstration, as well as, the Battle of the Businesses and the annual Parade.  Other activities include, an Author and Blogger’s meet up, a variety show, fire truck rides and a craft show on the Winnebago County Courthouse lawn.

“I think every town should have an annual celebration,” said Forest City Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Kathy Rollefson. “Some people may have moved away, or are in town for a family reunion, and this gives them a place to meet and gives them more things to do while they’re here. It’s also a great fundraising opportunity.”

Each year, there is a theme that goes along with the celebration and the theme this year is Aussie Wild(life)!  An accurate description, given the amount of life that will infuse itself into the city during the 4-day celebration.

Want to get involved with any of the event planning or volunteer opportunities? Contact the Forest City Chamber of Commerce at 641-585-2092.

Follow event updates on Facebook: Forest City Puckerbrush Days.


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Winnebago Outdoor Adventure Race set for June 6th

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Join in the fun at the Winnebago Outdoor Adventure Race on June 6, 2015 in Forest City, IA!  This race is organized by Forest City Parks and Recreation Department and is designed for teams and individuals interested in the challenge and excitement of an adventure race. Family and friends are encouraged to watch and join participants for a brunch in Pammel Park following the Race.

Course Overview:

The course starts with a 7 mile canoe/kayak race from Ambroson Recreation Area, south of Leland, Iowa to Pammel Park on the Winnebago River. This is followed by a 12 mile bike race from Pammel Park to Pilot Knob State Park. The race finishes with a 5k run along Hynes Spur in Pammel Park. The course has one transition area from which participants will begin bicycling and running portions of the race.

Race Routes:

  • The canoe/Kayak race begins at Ambroson Recreation Area to Pammel Park on the Winnebago River. A seven mile race with a wave start.
  • The bike route will exit Pammel Park on J Street heading East, a turn south onto South Golf Course Road, the riders will then head east on 340th Street to Pilot Knob. From there the bikers will bike the Pilot Knob Loop and then return to Pammel Park on the same route.
  • The 5K will proceed on Hynes Spur bike trail heading south and returning north on the same route.

Event Information:

  • fees are $30.00 per person REGISTER HERE:
  • Pasta will be available Friday night at the Riverview Restaurant, 945 Highway 69 South, Forest City, IA.
  • Packet pick-up is Friday 6-7 pm at Riverview Restaurant.
  • Pre-race begins at 8:15 A.M. at Ambroson.
  • This race has one transition area in Pammel Park, where you will find a staffed designated area for your race equipment beginning at 7 A.M.
  • Race Categories are: Solo, Tandem, and Relay.
  • Race begins (wave start) at 8:30 A.M. with the canoe/kayak race from Ambroson
  • Awards for first, second and third place finishes in all categories.
  • This is a rain or shine event.  Race organizers reserve the right to cancel or postpone the race due to poor weather conditions or race route conditions.

Included in your fee:

  • Lunch after all racers have crossed the finish line
  • T-shirt (If registered before May 10)
  • Goodie bag filled with products and coupons
  • Water & Gatorade served during the event

For more information, contact Jeff Hovinga at


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Memorial Day

Forest City Memorial Day events at the Civic Auditorium and at Winnebago Courthouse Square.  Photos of the event can be found on instagram (forestcityia).
Memorial Day 2015 (56)  Memorial Day 2015 (49) Memorial Day 2015 (31)(1) Memorial Day 2015 (52)
photos courtesy of Charlotte Hughes.

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