The smells of hay and freshly picked apples mingle with the shouts of children on the annual Erie Shores Farm Tour. An organized event between four very different, yet equally welcoming, farm facilities, the self-guided tour encompasses fall foods and a range of harvest-themed activities. Hillcrest Orchards welcomes visitors with attractions such as hayrides, a corn maze, and pedal carts, while staff at Dostall Farms lead their guests on a guided tour of their humane meat-processing facility, where animals are fed only grass or corn. The event ends with a prize drawing at Matus Winery, where staff also give a guided tour of the wine-making facilities, including the giant barrel where the winemakers sleep every night. To ensure participants don't lose their ways, Erie Shores Farm Tour provides a complimentary map and suggested travel routes between locations.
Boone & Scenic Valley Railroad & Museum’s campus features 9,000 square feet of exhibits, classrooms, and libraries dedicated to all eras of Iowa’s railway history. But the museum campus is one part of the organization’s attractions, since the it keeps actual 1920s-era coach cars coasting the tracks, chugging past sights and recreating the experience railway riders have enjoyed for nearly 100 years. The ancient engine follows the tracks in the Des Moines River Valley, taking visitors to old coal towns or allowing them to soak in scenic views. After their ride, travelers can return to the museum, where they can view track equipment, ogle dining car china, or learn why one has to wear coveralls to steer a train.
All bases of wine production, procurement, and enjoyment are covered at the Great Dakota Wine Fest. Guests can practice age-old winemaking techniques by hopping into a barrel and stomping grapes or by stabbing each one with an empty quill. Then, upon entering the wine tasting room, they can grab a wine glass emblazoned with the Great Dakota Wine Fest logo and begin testing pours from various South Dakota winemakers, all while live performances from various musicians add melodious din to the spirited sipping and schmoozing.
All manner of monsters prowl the halls of the Sioux Falls Jaycees Haunted House. Sadistic clowns smile from shadowed corners, herding visitors into a blood-spattered room where a ghoul in a straitjacket waits. Strobe lights and fog convince the senses that they've entered an otherworldly dimension or a very dusty camera, concealing the ghastly robotics and props lurking around each bend?such as a leering, demonic child named Hex. Though the attraction seeks to terrify, its ultimate goal is far more altruistic: ticket profits go to the Sioux Falls Jaycees, a community-service group whose volunteers don masks and gallons of fake blood to staff the entire house.
Tucker's Walk Vineyard takes its name from an afghan hound named Tucker. Tucker often led his owners Dave and Sue Greenlee on walks through the property, a former farm, stopping to bask in the sunlight and scenery. Thanks to these canine-led excursions, the Greenlees began to see their property's potential as a leisure destination. As a result, they started planting grapevines, and in 2010, they obtained a federal permit as a bonded winery.
Tucker passed away several years ago, but his legacy lives on. Visitors today continue to explore his favorite scenic spots, and wine connoisseurs visit to taste award-winning wines fermented from the vineyard's cold, hardy grapes. Among those wines are Marquette, a bold, dry red, and Brianna, a fruity white with a pineapple nose. The Greenlees also ferment fruits, such as rhubarb and wild plums, into unique fruit wines.
The first vines at the family-owned Wilde Prairie Winery were planted back in 1997. Today the property's rolling hills host more than 2,000 vines, from which the family plucks the grapes that accompany other fruits in flavoring their eclectic range of wines. Along with more traditional reds and whites, Wilde Prairie?s team handcrafts pear wines, honey-raspberry wines, and even blends with strawberry and rhubarb.
Samples abound at the winery itself, whose scenic surroundings host tastings, monthly concerts, and annual happenings such as the Festival of Artists.