America seems to be at a crossroads of uncertainty these days, but Iowa’s stately and proud historic barns remain to tell their story. The Iowa Barn Foundation’s free, self-guided annual All-State Barn Tour is Sept. 26-27 from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. each day.
The restored barns on the 2020 fall tour will be open to the public. Anyone interested in the history of agriculture is encouraged to hop in their car and drive the tour located near them. Barns that have been awarded restoration grants by the foundation, because of their importance historically or architecturally, will be on tour. Other barns restored by owners can also be viewed.
The Iowa Barn Foundation is an all-state primarily all-volunteer group that was founded in 1997 to encourage the preservation of Iowa's rural heritage.
Diane Stribe Wigdahl, owner of a barn on this fall’s tour, has fond memories of the barn. “The sounds and sights and smells of livestock, hard work, security, working side-by-side with Dad or just keeping him company in my younger days. Dad's barn aged, just as he did, but thanks to the Iowa Barn Foundation, our family was able to restore this tired structure and make it strong and straight and proud once again."
Revisit rural America up-close
This is the 20th year of Iowa All-State Barn Tours. “There are several different areas or parts of the annual fall tour, as we divide the state into areas where the tours will take place. This makes it easier for people to drive and see the barns that are located on a tour closest to them,” says Jacqueline Andre Schmeal, a longtime member of the foundation and organizer of the tours.
UNIQUE DESIGNS: The Wigdahl barn near Ruthven in northwest Iowa was built in the 1930s with red clay tile along the bottom.
The foundation has in recent years held two tours — one in spring and one in the fall. The 2020 spring tour was canceled due to COVID-19 uncertainty. It is planned for spring 2021.
“We decided to go ahead and have the fall 2020 tour,” Schmeal says. “You can view the barns from your car if you have concerns about the pandemic. There will also be hosts on hand at some of the stops who can answer your questions about the barns. Of course, social distancing and other precautions are recommended. During this lull in America due to the pandemic, we hope you’ll take some time to look at the beautiful barns we have around the state.”
The Iowa Barn Foundation has a new book available titled “Heritage on the Prairie.” Information about the book and how to order it is available on the website.