Twenty miles southwest of Cedar Rapids and 17 miles west of Iowa City, Amana is a 26,000 acre main tourist attraction in east-central Iowa. The Amana Colonies are comprised of seven villages which are settlements of German Pietists. They call themselves the Community of True Inspiration or the Ebenezer Society. They first settled in what is now West Seneca, New York but in order to be more in tune with their beliefs they moved west near Iowa City in 1855. Until the mid 1930's they lived a total communal life. They were going to call the new colonies Bieibetreu which in German means "remain faithful" but this was too hard for the residents to pronounce so they agreed on Amana which had a similar Biblical meaning.
They imported very little from the outside world and enjoyed this independence utilizing farming occupations and specialized handcrafts that mirrored their lives in their homeland of Germany. Known today for its craft shops, restaurants, wine shops and a brewery called Millstream it has become a major tourist attraction.
Each winter in Iowa there are several Winterfest celebrations throughout the state. One of the most well known is in the Amana Colonies. On January 24th this celebration of the experience of winter includes such events as the winter wreath toss, best beard competition, snowshoeing, log sawing, ham throwing, scavenger hunt, wine walk, storytelling, schnitzel-sampling, ice sculptures, Eisbahn ice rink, open fire chili, sledding, eagle watch, Hammerschlagen and the 5K Freezer Run/Walk. There are demonstrations of ice harvesting, candy making and quilting as well as kids activities from chocolate dipping to making your own snow globes. Also there are tours of the Amana Furniture Shop and cooking on the communal hearth.
Depending on the way you wish to travel there are many different places to stay in the seven colonies. There is the Amana Colonies Golf Course with adjacent condominiums, also bed and breakfasts, hotels and inns, a campgrounds and RV park all in the seven colonies which are made up of Main Amana, High Amana, Middle Amana, East Amana, West Amana, South Amana and Homestead.
Fees will begin being taken on January 20th. The fee is $20 if paid by January 20th and after that the fee is $25. Checks are payable to Amana Colonies Trails and can be send to Amana Colonies Trails, PO Box 42 Amana, IA 52203. All Proceeds will benefit the Amana Kolonieweg Recreation Trail. To check calendars and upcoming events go to: www.amanaheritage.org or phone 319-622-3567.
Visit the Amana Colonies Convention and Visitors Bureau at 622 46th Avenue in Amana or call 319-622-7622. Just a 1/2 mile from the village of Amana is Amana Colonies RV Park and Event Center. It is a 60-acre campground with full services with full and partial hook-ups in a scenic, peaceful area to camp. This camp ground is located at 3890 C Street and can be reached by phone at 319-622-7630. Or call toll free 800-471-7616.
For a completely different way of life visit Amana colonies.