Tour planners will explore the state’s diverse history and heritage on this fall’s FAM trip

The Iowa Group Travel Association’s 2017 National Group Travel Planner FAM, titled “Iowa without a Passport,” invites tour operators to sample the state’s rich ethnic heritage from Oct. 29 to Nov. 2. Immersing themselves in many countries without leaving the state of Iowa, Pella downtownparticipants will have a chance to visit the Dutch town of Pella, Amish and Mennonite communities in Kalona, and the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library in Cedar Rapids.

As a bonus, the last stop will be the Travel Iowa Marketplace, co-sponsored by IGTA and Central Iowa Tourism Region, with more than 70 exhibitors showcasing destinations, attractions and accommodations from throughout the state.

IGTA’s “Bring the Whole Herd” FAM tour last fall brought in group tour planners from around the nation and offered “ a fresh take on Iowa’s booming agricultural scene through hands-on and experiential touring opportuni-ties,” said Whitney Sanger, sales manager of the Dubuque Area CVB, one of the hosts. “We are looking to have some of these planners back in the community in the next couple of years. There is so much of Dubuque that was left unseen, and we look forward to showcasing our great community.”

Erin Schmitz of the Waterloo CVB said the FAM was “a great opportunity to share Iowa’s hidden treasures with the planners.” Sharing local German heritage with the group, Fredda Daman of the Manning Hausbarn-Heritage Park said, “It was a lot of fun….and an easy way to give the Hausbarn experience to a large number of people who will bring more people back.”

Here is what tour planners can expect on this fall’s FAM:

Sunday, October 29

Afternoon: CIT Signature Transportation coach departs from Holiday Inn Airport, Des Moines, for Gladbrook. At Matchstick Marvels see the detailed models created from more than five million wooden matchsticks by wood craftsman Patrick Acton. Next stop is Marshalltown, where visitors can enjoy miles of recreational trails, explore prairies and wetlands, climb a 30-foot tower, view a post-war Impressionist art collection, and see museums and a one-room schoolhouse.

Evening: Dinner and overnight in Marshalltown.

Monday, October 30

Morning: Depart for Atkins and Bloomsbury Farms, a family-fun place with 1,200-foot zip lines, corn mazes and a unique dining experience—Cuisine in the Corn. In Cedar Rapids visit the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library, located in historic Czech Village. Then tour the mansion, estate and beautiful gardens of Historic Brucemore. Next stop is the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Birthplace, the final resting place of Herbert Clark Hoover, the 31st president of the United States (1929-1933).

Afternoon: Depart for the Quad Cities, where a hot lunch buffet is served aboard the John Deere Pavilion Celebration Belle Riverboat as she cruises the Mississippi River. Return to the dock and depart for the John Deere Pavilion & Store. Educational, fun and free, the Pavilion show-cases the company’s machines, history and technological innovations.

After checking in to the Radisson Quad Cities Plaza, head to the tropical atrium for drinks and light appetizers beginning at 5:00 p.m.

Evening: At the Putnam Museum and Science Center, grab your popcorn before settling into your seat in the National Geographic giant-screen theater for a short welcome video featuring Quad Cities group-friendly attractions, accommodations and restaurants. Then enjoy Taste of the Quad Cities, a dinner and networking event with representatives of QC attractions in a casual grab-and-go setting, with appetizers, micro-brews and wines. Meet Alice Loff, group sales manager, for a behind-the-scenes or hands-on tour of the museum.

Tuesday, October 31

Morning: Tour Kalona Historical Village, then travel through the scenic countryside viewing the Amish way of life and visiting several country shops. Enjoy a home-cooked meal served family-style in a conservative Mennonite home.

Afternoon: The Welcome Home Soldier Monument in Albia is where every soldier can be honored and given a proper welcome back home. The stop will include a White Dove Release from Duey Alpaca Farms. Albia’s Victorian Lady will guide you through all of the town’s Victorian treasures, including the Opera House. Enjoy a taste of Albia at Inspire U Bakery and Albia Brewing Company. Travel to Indianola and walk through over 200 years of history of ballooning aviation at the National Balloon Museum. Next is Winterset, the seat of Madison County, famous for the covered bridges featured in The Bridges of Madison County movie and for the John Wayne Birthplace Museum, the only museum dedicated to the legendary actor.

Evening: Dinner and overnight in Winterset

Wednesday, November 1

Morning: After a tour of Winterset, depart for Clarinda. Visit the newly restored Clarinda Carnegie Art Museum, which features the extensive international art collection of Robert and Karen Duncan among other collectors.

Afternoon: After lunch at Garrison Coffee House, depart for the Glenn Miller Glenn Miller ExteriorBirthplace Museum & Home. Honoring the legacy of Alton Glenn Miller, the museum reveals the impact of this famous bandleader on the Big Band Era and military bands. Visit the Birthplace Home to experience the early life of the Miller family.

In Pella, tour the Klokkenspel, one of just a handful of carillon clocks with its 147-bell computer-driven chimes, music and four-foot animated figures. Next stop is Vermeer Mill, the largest working grain windmill in the United States. The 126-foot-tall mill grinds grain into flour used at Pella’s Dutch bakeries. It is part of the 23-building Pella Historical Village complex, which tells the story of the early immigrants from the Netherlands. Then explore the Molengracht, which replicates an authentic Amsterdam canal with working drawbridge running through the European-style architectural complex.

Evening: Enjoy a traditional Dutch meal, with an array of Dutch foods from hutsput to rodekool and Dutch Mess. The Dutchesses will do a song/dance performance in Dutch folk costumes.

Thursday, November 2

Morning: The Travel Iowa Marketplace at the Vermeer Global Pavilion in Pella will afford the opportunity to explore 60-70 locations to incorporate into your future group tours to Iowa. Lunch will be provided.

Afternoon: After lunch, depart for the Holiday Inn Airport, Des Moines. Plan to arrive back to vehicles around 2:00 p.m.