For RVers who relish a taste of Europe but don’t embrace the trip across the Atlantic, consider an easier journey to the heartland of America, where various ethnic groups have settled and retained much of their original cultures. In central Iowa, Germany and the Netherlands are neighbors. Situated a couple hours from each other, the communities of
Amana and Pella celebrate their individuality and colorful heritage with unique products, indigenous foods, music, dance, intricate costumes and good old-fashioned fun.
Amana Colonies, established more than a century ago by German emigrants seeking religious freedom and a utopian society, spreads across 20,000 acres of farm and forestland. From its humble beginnings, the Community of True Inspiration has developed a national reputation for its outstanding workmanship in textiles, but especially in refrigeration. The Amana brand is considered one of the most reliable in the country. Today, visitors to the
colonies can enjoy a wealth of history, art, architecture and food -lots and lots of food. Specialty bakeries, chocolate stores, meat markets and restaurants tempt passersby to stop and sample their wares. Planning is always important, and RVers should attempt to visit during one of the many festivals, including the Maifest, Cajun Fest and Oktoberfest. An
easy and all-inclusive means to absorb the Amana Colonies is to opt for the audio driving tour narrated on CD by local residents; it is available at the visitor center. More energetic visitors should consider walking the Kolonieweg Recreational Trail. For more information, go to www.amanacolonies.com.
About the same time that Amana was settled, Pella was also taking roots in Iowa. Under the leadership of Dominie Scholte, emigrants from Holland sought freedom in the new country and established their “City of Refuge.” Almost a thousand brave souls built their homes here in the mid 1800s, and based their community on Christian living. Incorporating their own style in architecture, residents created groups of grass-roofed turf houses as they had in the
Netherlands; the first of these communities was known as Strawtown. Soon the industrious citizens brought their home-style cooking, gorgeous fields of flowers and music and dance to the area. Luckily for today’s visitors, all the beauty and warmth of their initial work remains and can be enjoyed in the aromatic bakeries, flower shops, restaurants and historic buildings such as the Scholte House. RVers will delight to the plethora of festivals in Pella; just a few include Tulip Time in May; Fall Festival in September; and Christmas Walk in December. To participate in one or more of these elaborate celebrations, consider really joining in the spirit of the community and don a pair of wooden shoes, available at the Pella Historical Village Museum, De Pelikaan Dutch Imports and Straver’s hardware. And no visit to Pella would be complete without viewing the original working windmill. For more information, go to www.pellatuliptime.com.