For more than 10 years, The Heart of Darkness has elicited scares from nearly 10,000 visitors every Halloween season with one of the largest haunts in Iowa. People from across the country and ghosts studying abroad brave nine separately themed areas on the terror-infested grounds, from a haunted playground to a maniacal-clown asylum. Each section crawls with grotesque creatures. A living scarecrow swipes at guests with a rusted sickle, causing them to flee right into the padded cell of Crispy, a demented arsonist whose victims gave him a taste of his own medicine by scorching his skin.
So committed to their duty to terrify, owners Kevin and Dolly Schults are affectionately known as The Halloween Family, as detailed on a 2009 episode of ABC's Wife Swap. Outside their spooky corridors, the Schults reward survivors with concession stands, a live DJ, and a photo booth that snapped the pictures Crispy uses for his online-dating profile.
Nominated for Best Family Restaurant on CityVoter's 2011 A-List, Steamboat Garden has been serving up affordable family food since 1933. Today, guests at the boat-shaped restaurant can peer through its bright red portholes to watch as the friendly staff fills tables with steaks and seafood, breaded pork loin sandwiches known as Tug Boats, and seven incarnations of a signature hamburger that has been a Falls Avenue favorite since the 1940s. Between bites, diners sip old-fashioned floats made with 1919 draft root beer and then send instant photos of their empty plates to mom by accessing the restaurant's WiFi with a laptop or aluminum foil helmet.
Since 1993, the family-owned EyeMart Optical Outlet's goal has been to furnish central Iowans with affordable eyewear. The eye boutique spans nine locations and its inventory of basic and designer frames presents stylish options for all face structures. Optometrists at each location furnish their patients with prescriptions that can be quickly traded for single-vision or progressive lenses with protective coatings and lasers.
With thousands of frame and mat combinations, The Great Frame Up can satisfy any and all framing fantasies. The expert framespeople can make diplomas radiate (diploma framing starts at around $100), personalized jerseys glisten (starting around $300), and dorm-room movie posters sparkle (many 24"x36" pieces are under $100). The design wizards can also find a home for any prized possession, such as shoebox photos, baby booties, ticket stubs, medals, and really good pot roasts. The Great Frame Up’s no-hassle guarantee and assurance that all work is done on-site means your frameables won't be subject to mistreatment at underground commercial framing facilities.
Rockstock IV, sponsored by Rock 108 FM, merges with the 2011 Carnival of Madness to showcase 11 hard-hitting rock bands, punching ears and lifting spirits in a long night of rousing performances sprawled across two stages. Headlining the festivities, platinum-selling Vancouver quartet Theory of A Deadman exhorts raucous anthems such as "Bad Girlfriend" and "Hate My Life," whose wrathful riffage, tongue-through-cheek humor, and cathartic lyrics keep Eeyore from pouting himself to death. Filling the carnival’s roster of head-banging roustabouts, Alter Bridge shreds blocks of euphonic metal over moats of chugging guitars and petulant double-bass kick pedals, and Black Stone Cherry narrates southern Gothic stories with guitars forged from Tom Petty’s femur. Concluding the cluster of combustible rock 'n' roll, Adelitas Way scores unflinching tales of perseverance with hardcore and classic influences, and Emphatic unleashes chugging sonnets. Keeping both stages of Rockstock IV equipped with jackhammer melodies, a sextet of head-bangers, including Nonpoint, Pop Evil, and Bobaflex, also appears to bludgeon the remaining sunlight out of the day.