Bon jour, Iowa. I’ve really enjoyed getting to know so many of you on my travels across your magnificent state. You’ve said such nice things to me. Like “I learned about you in fifth grade. You’re taller than I thought.” Or “Where can I get a jacket with all that bling?” And “What’s up with the hand in the jacket?”
A funny thing happens when I talk to Iowans about my native Europe and the lands I ruled as emperor. My stories remind them of places in Iowa.
For instance, when I talk about the joys of German schnitzels, Iowans boast about the Amana Colonies, the Hausbarn in Manning and the German American Heritage Center in Davenport where you can see, taste and explore German settlers’ unique history.
Then I mention Denmark and their promising technology called “the windmill.” Iowans say, “You mean like Elk Horn and Kimballton?” I learned that these are the two largest rural Danish settlements in America! They've got their own authentic Danish windmill and an incredible museum. [Pictured above].
Europe has only one Dutch country. But you've got two amazing Dutch communities. One in Orange City, the other in Pella. Both are must-visits in May during their tulip festivals. But I keep going back for their Dutch letters, bologna and a pair of my very own wooden shoes.
Iowa has an Irish community called Emmetsburg. Here you can be Irish on St. Patricks’ Day and any other day of the year.
Then there’s the Czech heritage in Cedar Rapids. They've got a renowned museum that celebrates the culture. It’s the cornerstone of the Czech village where you can pick up authentic gifts and snack on a fresh kolache.
And when I talk about France, Iowans tell me about the French Icarian Village in Adams County where they re-create the days of 1848. Feels just like home to me.
In the far northeast corner of Iowa, Decorah’s Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum packed so much into a visit, it left me saying “Uff da!”
So if you want to experience unique cultures, celebrate a diversity of people and explore authentic cuisine, you’ll find everything right here in Iowa!
Bienvenue! Welkom! Willkommen! Vítej! Welcome!