Retrace and retread tractor history at this Dyersville museum, located 90 minutes from downtown Cedar Rapids. With thousands of toys and exhibits scattered throughout its two-floored exhibition space, the National Farm Toy Museum pays tribute to historic and contemporary crop contraptions. Fun-loving farm enthusiasts may peruse the museum's frenzy of farm implements, including trucks, pedal tractors, and life-size John Deer soil-sifters. Original artwork, dioramas, and two Doug Schlesier sculptures artfully express anecdotes of American agriculture, while miniature farm replicas and Ertl Company toys convey while miniature-sized farm replicas and Ertl Company toys convey to visitors the life-sized growth of American farming. The National Farm Toy Museum is open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily.
The Mississippi River meanders its way through the midwestern United States, fed by dozens of tributaries on its 2,500-mile sojourn from Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico. The National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium pays tribute to this mighty waterway with an array of immersive exhibits.
Six large aquariums house river creatures from all over the world—giant catfish, turtles, and sturgeons—as well as saltwater inhabitants such as sharks, rays, and the retired cast of One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish. A touch tank invites little ones to handle snails, freshwater mussels, and crawfish. The Woodward Wetland gives vistiors a boardwalked path through a natural river ecosystem. Equally sensory is the 3D or 4D theater, which screens popular kids' flicks and documentaries. Other interactive exhibits allow visitors to pilot a barge, learn about floods, and walk along a 92-foot map of the river.
Not all the museum's stars have fins, however. The National Rivers Hall of Fame honors the famous Americans who lived or worked along the Mississippi, such as Abraham Lincoln and Mark Twain. The Fred W. Woodward Riverboat Museum similarly offers a closer look at the historic schooners that once traversed the waterway.
Barry Levenson can tell you the exact date he became a mustard collector: October 28, 1986. It was the early morning after his beloved Boston Red Sox lost the World Series, and he was wandering an all-night grocery store "looking for the meaning of life," as his website puts it. Then, in a flash, it hit him: mustard. Barry would amass the world's largest collection, and people would journey from miles around to see it.
This unlikely epiphany set the course for the next 30 years of Barry's life. He began snatching up every type of mustard he could get his hands on, which wasn't always easy given his time-consuming job as the Assistant Attorney General for the State of Wisconsin. Once he even snagged a jar from a hotel hallway?and stored it in his pocket during a case in front of the U.S. Supreme Court. No one could accuse Barry of lacking commitment to his vision.
By 1992, he had compiled a large enough collection to open his dream museum. Today, the National Mustard Museum stands more than 5,624 mustards strong. The premier attraction?The Great Wall of Mustard?represents all 50 states and more than 70 countries. Elsewhere, visitors can play a Food Whiz game or gaze at a collection of antique mustard pots, tins, and advertisements. Of course, there are ample opportunities to taste the mustard, too. Visitors can typically sample around 500 varieties, and then pick a favorite one to buy and take home.
Though Sand Creek Brewing Company officially launched in 2004, its heritage stretches all the way back to 1856. That's when the Swiss-born Ulrich Oderbolz built his Oderbolz Brewing Company. on the side of a hill in Black River Falls. The facility changed hands and names over the years—Badger Brewing Company, Pioneer Brewing Company—before the Sand Creek team relocated from their makeshift brewery on a Wisconsin dairy farm.
These days, Pioneer's brewmaster Todd Krueger—a winner of three World Beer Cup golds—joins forces with Sand Creek's Jim Wiesender. Together, the duo concocts 10 year-round and seasonal brews, from an award-winning oatmeal chocolate stout to a German-style ale made with Wisconsin-grown cranberries. Brews flow every Friday evening at Sand Creek's taproom, while free tours offer glimpses into the historic building and its 19th-century beer cellar, where bottles are fashionably attired with top hats and monocles. Besides extended taproom hours each summer, the microbrewery participates in myriad events throughout the year.
Several years ago, Ken Smith and Chase Williams were typical door-to-door salesmen. In need of a gimmick to boost sales and a quicker mode of transport, the duo tried riding Segways and immediately fell in love. Eventually, they turned their love for the two-wheeled transporter into their current venture, All American Segway. Their company provides all manner of Segway engagement, including guided Segway tours that offer rolling educations in local history and wildlife. Customers can also discover the revolutionary devices on their own by renting out Segways for recreational use, private parties, or as a friend for a lonely office chair or shopping cart.
In 2007, the Pub Crawl Kings organized a casual pub crawl right around Thanksgiving time. Every November since, that crawl has grown larger, enabling its founders to add more events to their calendar throughout the year. That success has also allowed them to add on a commemorative t-shirt with pub crawl admission—a less costly tribute than a face tattoo. Today, the Pub Crawl Kings continue to engineer themed pub crawls, as well as networking events and charitable efforts.