Be swept away by the winds of winter and experience a town that has something for everyone to do. Begin by strolling through the restored 1800s village housing 15 historic buildings and three museums.
Take a customized guided tour for only $15 per adult. The day trip begins at 8:30 a.m. with coffee and a mouth-watering Kalona pastry. Then it’s downtown to begin your Quilt Block Walking Tour.
After that, it’s off to the Amish countryside and shopping through quaint neighborhoods offering handmade wares and food selections. The noontime stop is in a Mennonite home for a family-style dinner. By 1 p.m. tourists will visit the nationally-known Kalona Cheese Factory farm.
The van-trip tour ends back at the Historical Village for museum browsing where guests will not want to miss the Iowa Mennonite Museum and Archives.
The 1879 railroad depot has been restored reminding visitors of the area’s early days as a shorthorn cattle breeding center. First known as “Bull-town” the name was changed to Kalona in honor of a famous registered sire by the name of Kalona.
Of interest is the 1892 Wahl House that was built to replace a stagecoach stop hotel. It now houses a vast collection of glassware and antiques. The one-room schoolhouse was built about 1850. It was nicknamed “Straw College” because straw was stuffed behind the wainscoting for warmth during winter.
The Snyder Log House was built in 1842 and is thought to be the oldest house in the county.
Museum quilts date from 1810 through the 1950s. Known as the “Quilt Capitol of Iowa,” vibrant and unusual quilts of all varieties abound in this area. The Quilt Block Walking Tour is a fun thing to do for everyone. Downtown shops have 42 samples of vintage quilt blocks in their storefronts. Each quilt block is identified with information to its name and origin.
The Kalona area is home to the largest Amish-Mennonite settlement west of the Mississippi River. A little about the Amish and the Mennonites of Kalona: The Amish arrived in the area in 1846.
Their group’s Bishops give members sets of rules for their everyday life. Several different kinds of buggies are used. There are single buggies, family-style buggies and the church wagon.
The church wagon carries the benches for services that are held in different homes. Retiring Amish give their main house to their oldest son, so there may be several generations of a family living in the same home.
The Amish pay taxes but do not accept government aid including Social Security and farm subsidies. Singing is an important part in Mennonite worship. They sing praises from beginning to the end of each service and leave worship services singing.
Unlike the Conservative Mennonites, Mennonites live in modern homes with electricity and telephones and wear regular clothes.
Page 2 of 2 - A special event is the Iowa Mennonite Relief Sale. The last weekend in May attracts more than 10,000 visitors at the Iowa City Fairgrounds.
For 34 years the Relief Sale has been organized by more than 35 Iowa Mennonite and Brethren in Christ Churches.
Relief Sales support the worldwide relief program of the Mennonites. Items last year included: 90 quilts, handmade furniture and crafts, meals hosted in their homes and much more.
Once arriving in Kalona, plan to spend one whole day exploring the immediate area. Check in with Nancy Roth, Kalona Tour Director, at the Village Center. Kalona is where “you’ll discover a way of life that the rest of this country has left behind. Come experience that ‘old fashion’ hospitality!”