Family Adventures · Southeast Iowa

Van Buren Village Hopping: Part 2-The Epic Amish Supper and a Strawberry Fest on the Horizon

Our village hopping didn't end in Selma, IA. Join us as Team Goodvin leap-frogs through more of Van Buren County!
Our village hopping didn’t end in Selma, IA. Join us as we leap-frog through more of Van Buren County!

Villages of Van Buren County, IA

Welcome to part 2 of The Iowa Gallivant’s trip through historic Van Buren County, IA that we blazed during one of the best Memorial Day weekends we’ve ever had. We set our heading to the town of Farmington and took the time to stretch our legs. The Des Moines River kept rolling and so did Team Goodvin!

The majority of Farmington's light poles have this familiar advertisement. And the festival is just around the corner!  http://www.farmingtoniowa.com/strawberryfestival.html
The majority of Farmington’s light poles have this familiar advertisement. And the festival is just around the corner!
http://www.farmingtoniowa.com/strawberryfestival.html
By
By “around the corner” I mean next weekend. Get your whip cream and portable chocolate fountains ready!
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Farmington-Strawberry-Festival/1437085703190986?fref=ts

Near Farmington was a much needed opportunity to get even more active on the day. Right on the edge of town is Indian Lake Park. An absolute jewel of Van Buren County. The park is an outdoor haven and produce some amazing Iowa scenery. With every trip we go on, we find multiple reasons to come back. Indian Lake Park is near the top of the list for this chapter!

A beautiful forest meets lake, meets canoes meet Team Goodvin. Indian Lake Park near Farmington, IA. http://villagesofvanburen.com/directory.html?item=1433
A beautiful forest meets lake meets canoes meets Team Goodvin. Indian Lake Park near Farmington, IA.
http://villagesofvanburen.com/directory.html?item=1433
Take a hike! Charlie, Leah and Gigi said
Take a hike! Charlie, Leah and Gigi said “OK” to that. Indian Lake Park had some great trails with a lot of stops to get dirty and be kid. Or big kid in my case. Really big kid.
Our historical spidy sense kicked it when we saw this structure. We stumbled upon a 1930's WPA project called Dodger Stadium in Fort Dodge and now a CCC project in Farmington. Still looking great and being put to good use to this day.
Our historical spidey sense kicked it when we saw this structure. We stumbled upon a 1930’s WPA project called Dodger Stadium in Fort Dodge and now a CCC project in Farmington. Still looking great and being put to good use to this day.
The hard working labors probably didn't know they were building a monument, but they did. The CCC's work can be seen all across the US and gives a silver lining to the days of the great depression of the 1930's.
The hard working labors probably didn’t know they were building a monument, but they did. The CCC’s work can be seen all across the US and gives a silver lining to the days of the great depression of the 1930’s.

Hiking, skipping rocks, and giggling as Dad makes his way across a dock that swishes back and forth on open water can make a family hungry. And a father teary eyed. Because the cottonwoods are getting to him. Which I wasn’t able to prove because my son said their wasn’t any in sight. Moving on. We revisit a flyer that Monie was handed earlier in the day. A buffet cooked by a local Amish family. Meatloaf….yes, please. Breaded chicken…..um….yea..we love that. Mashed potatoes and gravy…please go on. Garden fresh steamed cabbage……that..that…sounds tasty. A salad spread that was growing in the dirt just outside the window from where you’ll be eating…..OK we’re now more hungry than we were at meatloaf. Warm bread right from the oven with soft butter……That’s a meal in its self. Fresh baked pie and homemade ice cream….May I please be told that I can’t leave for several weeks? Just on the outskirts of the Village of Bonaparte is the Sunrise Bakery and their holiday weekend buffet.

It's a pretty good bet that when someone says
It’s a pretty good bet that when someone says “Take the dirt road….” in reference to a place to eat, we’re going to take their advice. Once again, this game plan didn’t disappoint.
The Sunrise Bakery is located at 31154 210th Street near Bonaparte, IA.
The Sunrise Bakery is located at 31154 210th Street near Bonaparte, IA.

John Bontrager greeted us as we walked in. His smile was as big as his beard was long. His wife, Marie started to take the lids off the chaffing dishes that revealed what would become one of the most memorable meals our family has ever experienced together. We quickly met the Bontrager children as they took turns smiling at each of us through our meal. Showing respect for our most gracious of Amish hosts we did not take pictures of them. But, we can tell you that they were some of the kindest and fun loving Iowans that we have ever met. The hard work that the Bontrager family put in to the meal, and their everyday lives, was on full display. From the care they showed by greeting us to the freshly cooked food to taking the time to visit with us no matter how busy they were. Everyone was welcomed into the Bontrager home and I witnessed my kids taking it all in. Gigi couldn’t get enough of the bread, butter, fresh celery and carrots. Leah became a fan of coconut cream pie and couldn’t keep away from their pecan pie. Charlie said it was the best chicken and mashed potatoes he’s ever had. I gobbled up all the food I could. Cabbage is my all time favorite veggie and something I could eat every day. The steamed cabbage and crispy coleslaw would have lured me in to the Sunrise Bakery alone. Literally a part of all of Team Goodvin’s favorite foods were at our taking in rural Bonaparte, IA that day. And Team Bontrager were our Van Buren MVP’s.

You may go your whole life in search of the authentic Iowa meal. We only had to travel just over an hour to find it. Please tell me how it gets anymore fresh than this. The Sunrise Bakery puts this meal on a few times a year so keep up with your Villages of Van Buren calendar. Good times are coming again!
You may go your whole life in search of the authentic Iowa meal. We only had to travel just over an hour to find it. Please tell me how it gets anymore fresh than this. The Sunrise Bakery puts this meal on a few times a year so keep up with your Villages of Van Buren calendar. Meatloaf, breaded bone-in chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy, fresh baked bread and assorted pies, coleslaw and pickles. Ice cream too. Fresh ice cream. Good times are coming… Again!

Daylight is now getting to be in short supply and we need to hop to one more village. Monie is in need of more garden beautification and luckily for us we were able to find a place that could help her out. Cantril, IA was ready for Leah’s keen eye!

A Van Buren County staple! Dutchman's Store has everything from handmade clocks, bulk foods, local butchers and some of Iowa's best selections of flowers, herbs and anything you want to plant. http://www.dutchmansstore.com/
A Van Buren County staple! Dutchman’s Store has everything from handmade clocks, bulk foods, to meat from local butchers, as well as some of Iowa’s best selections of flowers, herbs and anything you want to plant.
http://www.dutchmansstore.com/
Charlie, Leah and Gigi doing some friendly sibling-squabbling over what to get for Mom's garden at Dutchman's in Cantril, IA.
Charlie, Leah and Gigi doing some friendly sibling-squabbling over what to get for Mom’s garden at Dutchman’s in Cantril, IA.

We use the term “scratched the surface” a lot in our blog posts. But, in every time we truly mean it. In one day we crossed the Des Moines River, took in a flea market, hiked around a lake, ate the best meal of the year, found the most impressive country stores ever and had a family visit to a burial ground of one of the greatest chiefs in Native American history. And we only scratched the surface of Van Buren County. I’m not sure how “Iowan” one can be. Soaking in the heritage, cuisine, landscape and Villages of Van Buren could bring out the Iowa spirit in anyone.

Don’t forget to read part 1 of Village hopping!

https://theiowagallivant.com/2015/06/02/village-hopping-part-1-of-2-chief-black-hawk-the-banks-of-bentonsport/

Please take time to visit……..

http://villagesofvanburen.com/ https://www.facebook.com/pages/Villages-of-Van-Buren/317602680147?fref=ts https://twitter.com/VillagesofVB
http://villagesofvanburen.com/
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Villages-of-Van-Buren/317602680147?fref=ts
https://twitter.com/VillagesofVB
http://www.easterniowatourism.org/
http://www.easterniowatourism.org/
http://www.traveliowa.com/ https://www.facebook.com/IowaTourism?fref=ts https://twitter.com/Travel_Iowa
http://www.traveliowa.com/
https://www.facebook.com/IowaTourism?fref=ts
https://twitter.com/Travel_Iowa
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5 thoughts on “Van Buren Village Hopping: Part 2-The Epic Amish Supper and a Strawberry Fest on the Horizon

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