Nearly every day there is something to see or do in Lucas County. Join with your friends and family and enjoy the activities listed on the monthly Events Calendar on our websites.
There could be a special live on stage performance, one of six of the Vredenburg Performing Arts series. Or a play by the Chariton Valley Players or the High School Drama Class.
There could be the Lighted Holiday Parade or Homecoming Parade or St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Or the Farmers Market may have the Town Square filled with delicious food and mouth-watering aromas or even artwork. Join the lunch on the Square during the summer with live music.
For more information contact:
Chariton Chamber & Development
Hwy 14 South
CB & Q Freight House
corner of Auburn & Brookdale Ave
Chariton Historic Mainstreet District
Connecticut Yankee Pedaller Bicycle Shop
908 Court Ave
Frontier Trading Post
25281 U S Hwy 34
Hotel Charitone & Restaurant
NE Corner of Chariton Square
John L Lewis Museum
Lucas County Courthouse
916 Braden Ave
Lucas Country Mormon Trail
Lucas County Museum
McNay Research Center Farm
Rt 2, Chariton, IA
Pierce’s Pumpkin Patch
641-862-3398 or 641-344-1344
Pin Oak Marsh & Lodge Educational Center
Rolling Hills Prairie Derby
106 Prairie Street
The Cinder Path
for the worlds only
PLACES TO STAY
Chariton Super 8 Motel
Highway 34 East
Country Cabins (Glamour Camping)
25119 US Hwy. 34.
705 Auburn Ave.
Royal Rest Motel
Highway 34 East
25119 Hwy 34
Red Haw State Park
24550 US Hwy 34 East
Stephens Cedar Creek Unit
Stephens State Forest
Stephens Thousand Acre Unit
3 miles east of Williamson
Many City Parks
Russell City Park
Adventure Racing in Lucas County
In spring of 2013, an adventure race was held in Lucas County; The Olmitz Miner Adventure Race. This event brought 11 teams (30 racers) to the county and highlighted two great local attractions: Red Haw State Park and Stephens State Forest, along with all the natural beauty and recreational opportunities that Lucas County has to offer.
What is adventure racing?? Adventure racing is typically a team sport involving navigation through an unmarked wilderness course. Some races offer solo competition as well. The principle disciplines in adventure racing include trekking, mountain biking, and paddling although races can incorporate a multitude of other disciplines including climbing, horse riding, skiing and white water rafting. Teams generally vary in gender mix and in size from two to five competitors, however the premier format is considered to be mixed gender teams of four racers. These races can last from two hours up to days in length! The races in Lucas County have focused on paddling, mountain biking, and orienteering.
For the past three years, an Iowa-based company, Unplugged Adventures, hosted these adventure races in Lucas County, with their fourth annual planned for May of 2016. Each year, attendance and interest has grown and the course changes. Unplugged Adventures is partnering with the Happy Mutant Adventure Race Series to offer a longer, larger race for 2016. For more information on adventure racing in Iowa, please visit www.unpluggedadventures.net or www.thehappymutant.com.
Always Something To Do in Lucas County
Can you think of a better way to spend a day than traveling down a winding country road, seeing an occasional deer or wild turkey and enjoying life at a slower pace? The rolling hills of Southern Iowa has this to offer and if you are a quilter the scenery gets even better!
Approximately sixty miles south of Des Moines, the communities of Lucas, Humeston and Chariton are home to four quilt shops within twenty-five miles of each other. Quilt With Us in Lucas; Snips of Thread in Humeston; The Sampler and Cindy Lou’s Quilt Shop and Gifts in Chariton, are all owned by women who are passionate about quilting. This amazing group of shop owners collectively possess over 100 years of quilting experience and are willing to share their love of quilting with their quilting friends and customers!
Quilt With Us is at the corner of Highway 34 and Highway 65. Mary has been in business since 2002 and is located across the street from the historic John L. Lewis Coal Mining Museum. The shop started out in ½ of the original lumberyard and has doubled in size since opening. Quilt With Us is the home to hundreds of bolts of bright fabric colors, a large selection of 108” backing fabrics, flannel, batiks and is filled with quilting notions, patterns and samples. Don’t forget to check out the Singer featherweight sewing machines that are for sale.
Snips of Thread Quilt Shop is located on Highway 65 in the friendly town of Humeston. The building was a café for many years. The large windows offer a bright, light filled space perfect for a quilt shop and creativity studio. Linda thinks of herself as the “frugal quilter”. Her goal is to provide the highest quality fabric at the lowest possible prices. The shop has been open for less than a year. The inventory of flat folds and bolt fabric in civil war and warm earth tones continues to grow and change. Linda also does long-arm quilting for her customers and carries unique pre-cut kits and bundles. Linda is a Missouri Star wholesaler too!
The Sampler is a delightful small-town quilt shop located just off the southeast corner of the town square in Chariton. Carol’s shop is loaded with quality fabrics that are guaranteed to please, including a very large selection of batiks. Many of the sample quilts on display are quick and easy, and the patterns are free with the purchase of the fabric. The Sampler carries Electric Quilt products and Carol is always happy to help you learn how to use them. You’ll find lots of fat quarters and pre-cuts. Don’t miss the Thursday special of buy 6 fat quarters and get one free. Check out the back room for sale specials too!! The Sampler gives a 10% discount to all quilt guild members.
The newest shop is Cindy Lou’s Quilt Shop & Gifts. The shop opened November 11, 2015 and is housed in the old Ben Franklin building on the north side of the square in Chariton. Cindy’s shop is filling up fast with many fabric lines, flannel, fleece, minky and pre-cuts. If you need a gift, Cindy has unique items for everyone on your list, including many kitchen gadgets. Cindy is also a long-arm quilter and her shop is home to a coffee bar! She is featuring LaRue flavored coffee, cappuccino and hot chocolate.
While you are in the area ask each shop owner what other local businesses they recommend you not miss! There are great places to have a wonderful lunch, a one of a kind general-store shopping experience, great antique and junk shops and don’t miss out on delicious handmade candy to mention a few! Mary, Linda, Carol and Cindy are all hoping to see you and your quilting friends very soon!
Lucas County Big Day of Birding – May 21, 2016
As you look out your window this winter, you probably miss seeing all the winged visitors on your bird feeders. Yes, we have many species of birds that overwinter here in Iowa, but there is nothing like the sounds, colors, and varieties we see come spring when they all return from their winter vacations. Lucas County is a great place to go birding – we have a variety and abundance of habitat and natural resources that are not found in many other places in Iowa. For that very reason, Tourism Lucas County, a division of Chariton Area Chamber/Main Street, is planning a Big Day of Birding to be held on Saturday, May 21, 2016. The Big Day of Birding will focus on utilizing volunteers to conduct a county-wide bird inventory on private land. Participants will be paired with a birding expert and will identify and document birds discovered during this 24-hour event. The data gathered from this event will support local, statewide, and national efforts to better understand bird populations, especially those species whose populations are in decline. Information received from this event will also help highlight habitat needs and conservation practices that could be beneficial to birds. We are seeking volunteers to help with organization (prior to and day of the event), landowners that would like to have a bird inventory completed on their properties, and/or people that have an interest in birding and would like to be on an inventory team. If you would like to know more about this event or volunteer, please contact Lyle Asell at 641-203-2258. Save the Date for May 21, 2016 so you can be a part of the Lucas County Big Day of Birding!
Bluegrass Music Association of Iowa Brings Bluegrass to Honey Creek Resort
The Bluegrass Music Association of Iowa (BMAI) is dedicated to supporting, promoting, educating and preserving the appreciation and enhancement of traditional bluegrass music in the state of Iowa. To fulfill our mission, we conduct activities including small group performances, workshops, music festivals, and participation in the Play It Forward (PIF) program. PIF fosters music literacy and performance skills in young people by providing no-cost access to primary bluegrass musical instruments.
When BMAI decided to create a fall bluegrass festival, Honey Creek Resort State Park seemed like the perfect place! Located on the shore of Rathbun Lake, this beautiful resort sits on 800 acres of native prairie and woodlands. With championship golf, trails, naturalist programs, and an indoor water park, Honey Creek provides festival goers lots to do when they’re not enjoying some of the best music the Midwest has to offer.
Early in 2010, Lori King, Executive Director of the Bluegrass Music Association of Iowa (BMAI) brought the associations first ever two day bluegrass festival to Honey Creek Resort. The success of the first two years led BMAI to add a Thursday night Gospel concert to the event as well as a youth day on Friday morning. The Youth Day adds an educational element where local 6th Grade students are invited for a fun day of making instruments out of recycled materials, learning about the heritage of bluegrass music, and hearing live bluegrass music performed by talented musicians. The Gospel night continues to grow as well and church groups are invited to enjoy the fellowship and worship through the music.
Over the past 6 years BMAI has featured many artists at this festival from all over the country. In addition to local and regional artists, some of the National and International Touring Bands include: Darin & Brooke Aldridge from North Carolina, The Darrell Webb Band from Tennessee, Nu Blu from North Carolina, Trinity River Band from Florida, and most recently in 2015 The Claire Lynch Band from Tennessee, Volume Five from Mississippi, and Mountain Faith from North Carolina. Mountain Faith recently made it to the semi-finals on NBC’s America’s Got Talent TV show.
Moving forward and planning for 2016, BMAI will add another day and more elements to this event. BMAI will host its 1st Annual Awards Show on Sunday afternoon in conjunction with the festival. The awards show will recognize performers in the bluegrass genre, as well as persons who have made a difference for bluegrass music in Iowa.
Since the initial contact, BMAI has partnered with Honey Creek Resort to host what they believe to be BMAI’s Premiere Bluegrass Festival. It has become an event that bluegrass fans, friends, and families attend year after year.
With the help of financial support from area businesses, as well as state, local, and county funding, BMAI continues to make a difference in rural Southern Iowa for a fall weekend on beautiful Lake Rathbun.
The Hotel Charitone was designed by William L. Perkins, architect of many of Chariton’s historic buildings, and opened its doors in November 1923. With a building footprint of 5000 square feet and constructed using 100 tons of steel as one of the first fireproof buildings in Iowa, the four-floor Charitone, with its spacious lobby, barbershop, and restaurant, thrived from its opening into the 1970s, but gradually declined with the decrease in train travel.
Although a series of owners sought to keep the Charitone alive over the next several decades, none were successful, and eventually the windows of the building were covered with plywood, the roof and masonry seriously damaged, and the upper floors gutted and open. In 2006, through the efforts of the Chariton Historic Preservation Commission, the hotel was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Then, the Iowa Historic Preservation Alliance listed the Charitone as one of the most endangered historic sites in Iowa in 2007. In 2010, the Chariton City Council increased the pressure on the owner to deal with the hotel’s structural issues. After negotiations with the city, the owner sold the Charitone to a new organization, Hotel Charitone, LLC, in January 2012.
In March 2012, Hy-Vee Inc. announced that it would contribute $1.6 million to the historic rehabilitation of the Hotel Charitone through the new nonprofit corporation the Lucas County Preservation Alliance, the controlling member of Hotel Charitone, LLC. At the same time, The Vredenburg Foundation, a local private foundation established by longtime Hy-Vee chief executive Dwight Vredenburg and his family, announced that it would contribute $500,000 to the project. The project would utilize federal and state historic tax credits and convert the top three floors of the Charitone into rental apartments and the main floor to a restaurant. The design builder of the project was Koester Construction Company of Grimes.
Stabilization work began in August 2012 and apartment construction began in early 2013. The day after Thanksgiving 2013, the neon light on the southwest corner of the building was lit for the first time in decades. That same week, the Alliance surpassed $1 million in additional contributions and pledges, the initial goal set by Hy-Vee when it made its original commitment to the project in March 2012. The $1 million includes the $500,000 from the Vredenburg Foundation, $100,000 from the Coons Foundation, and over $300,000 from more than 240 individual donors.
When construction was completed and tenants moved into all twelve apartments the first week of January 2014, the presence of lights and activity on the upper floors created great excitement and joy in the community. Then, when the Charitone Market Grille, a restaurant operated by Hy-Vee, opened to the public on May 15, 2014, the building became the focus of even more activity.
This project has been an enormous success and, as hoped, has brought to life a building that for many years constituted a blight on the town square. But beyond the primary goal of restoring the vitality of the Charitone, the Alliance also hoped to rejuvenate the entire town square. Now, utilizing CDBG funding, the City of Chariton is coordinating the construction of ten additional upper-level housing units and a facade-improvement program on the town square. Both projects unquestionably were inspired by the Charitone project.
In December 2014, a book entitled The Charitone: Reviving the Cornerstone of Chariton’s Square, was released, describing the project and the history of the building. The books are available in Chariton at the Charitone Market Grille and Piper’s.
Family Mini-Golf in Lucas County
Located just east of Chariton, Iowa you’ll find one of Lucas County’s newest attractions. An 18 hole, country style, mini-golf course is now open from Memorial Day through Labor Day. Come enjoy family fun in the beautiful Iowa outdoors. The course is played right on the natural grass and includes such fun challenges such as a covered bridge, old cultivators, “Boot Hill”, “Plinko” and even putting into an outhouse. The setting is serene and includes a waterfall and fountain. This year out- door lighting has been added as the best time to play in the summer is the cool evening hours. The mini-golf course is part of the Frontier Trading Post which also houses a large gift shop and welcome center, picking barn, bait and tackle shop as well as the Soda Pop Saloon. Located 1 mile east of Chariton on Hwy 34, next door to the Country Cabins Resort, the mini-golf course is a great new addition for family fun to the area.