Last week, a story on the WHO-TV caught my eye. The tiny southwest Iowa community of Coin in Page County, population of about 200, was celebrating their annual "Buzzard Day" festival.
Not only do they have one of the best town names in Iowa, they also managed to put together a festival that definitely conjures up some curiosity.
Every year during the warmer months, dozens of turkey vultures (often referred to as buzzards) make the water tower in Coin their home. A few community leaders got together and decided that they could make something fun of this migration tradition.
The town is not what it once was. The banks and grocery store are gone and the school is shuttered. At it's peak, it was a town of 600. Despite all of that, they still have some community spirit...and a good sense of humor.
This was the second year for the Buzzard Day and I decided to make the 2+ hour drive from West Des Moines just to see what it was all about. One of the best parts of the whole festival was the slogan - which they put on yellow t-shirts. "Look Alive, the Buzzards have Arrived". Brilliant marketing.
There were several vendors in tents and at tables selling anything from antiques and salvage to jewelry and decorations, among other things.
Several local folks brought in their cars or vehicles as part of a small car show.
They had one food vendor and I believe the proceeds were being used as a benefit to the local volunteer fire department.
I had one of the grilled hamburgers. Very delicious.
The gentleman who was doing the grilling was really getting into the whole day. He was kind enough to let me take a photo of the fake buzzard on his shoulder.
A few firefighters were showing kids how the trucks and hoses worked.
Keep those hearts thumpin' - it's important to look alive!
If you wanted to get a photo of yourself as a buzzard, you could stick your face through the hole. There were chairs for the little kids to stand on.
A nice man was offering wagon rides around town. He has lived in the area for his whole life and was a wealth of knowledge about the community and area. I hopped on the wagon, which was pulled by an antique tractor, and rode around.
We had a full wagon.
Some of the kids even wore a buzzard hat.
The ride took us up to the water tower where the buzzards usually roost. Unfortunately, they were not there at the time of our visit. Our driver said that there would be several dozen as soon as it closer to dusk.
Several kids got off the wagon near the water tower in order to pick up buzzard feathers as a souvenir.
Near the water tower is the old school. It has seen better days. Our driver said sometimes the turkey vultures will come out from some of the windows that are broken.
Elsewhere in town, I saw both some magnificent homes and a few that appear to be abandoned.
They have a Methodist Church that looks like it was probably built in the 1960s.
Near the emergency services station, I found some playground equipment.
Easily one of the best named bars in all of Iowa is the Gold Coin. There could be a lot of puns with a name like coin. Apparently it recently experienced a "change" (see, puns galore!) in ownership and will be opening again later this year.
They have a public library and it was open on Saturday.
Across the street from the Gold Coin and library, there is a post office as well as the Gravel House. This appears to be some sort of place that can be rented out for overnight guests. The sign mentions hunting parties. Southern Iowa, with it's immense over-population of deer, is a popular destination for hunters.
Next to the post office was a kybo. Despite what you might think, I'm not the Don who owns a kybo business.
There is a building on the south side of town that was maybe most recently an antique store but perhaps at one time was a restaurant. Sadly, it appears to not be in use right now.
There is a business called Ag Choice that appears to be an agriculture inputs supplier. According to their website, they have a couple of sites in Missouri and this one in Iowa. Agriculture is the lifeblood of Iowa's economy and it provides 1 in 5 jobs in our state.
I spotted a small telephone co-operative office with a tower, too.
There are a number of other buildings around town in varying shape and of use/non-use.
This was quite the adventure. I saw this framed piece of artwork at one of the vendors' tents and nearly purchased it. I think it's definitely the goal that I have.
My visit to Coin was a lot of fun. I spent maybe 90 minutes here but enjoyed the very friendly hospitality and creative spirit. My only disappointment was not seeing a live buzzard. I guess I'll have to swing by another time and try again.
As always, I welcome suggestions of places to visit and profile whether in Page County or any of the other 98 counties. If you have a good idea or would wish to host the Iowa Adventurer, please feel free to drop me a note through my website