Have we mentioned that we love Van Buren County? So, welcome to part 4 of our Southeast Iowa village hopping! This trip featured the area’s biggest weekend of visitors with every community finding unique ways to lure them in. It’s annual Scenic Drive Festival and you MUST get this on your calendar for next year. Here’s why…..
Our first stop was Millard’s Turtle Farm in Birmingham. We learned more about farm raised turtles than Team Goodvin ever though we’d be able to take in. The turtles were fun, educational, adorable, and down right delicious! Millard’s had gallons on top of gallons of their hot homemade turtle soup for sale and we promptly devoured it. Charlie was the biggest fan of Millard’s rich and buttery flavored turtle and quickly found the bottom of his soup bowl. He had no hesitation telling the hardworking cooks that it was the best tasting soup of his life. We could have left after our soup experience and said the hour and half trip was well worth the time. But it was only 11:00 AM. There’s more villages to see!
Stops 2 and 3 were in Bonaparte and Bentonsport. Bonaparte was crawling with folks looking for collectibles and antiques. Locals and vendors had their tables setup all along Main Street. Van Buren County is one of Iowa’s oldest and most historic areas so you know you can find countless treasures if you are regularly out and about antiquing. We also found some killer local gourds and other produce in Bonaparte that is still decorating our home as I write this. Autumn is my favorite season so I don’t care if you’re annoyed to see a pumpkin by my front door as we close in on Christmas. Any-who…Bentonsport was just as busy. A little swap meet crowd, food trucks, and plenty of local fudge. Those love handles need attention too.
Stop 4 is at the local creamery with award-winning cheeses. Milton Creamery is becoming a force in the Midwest when it comes to cheese making. On this day they had dozens of their varieties on the sampling table and we filled up once again. We purchased a couple pounds of curds, beef sticks, and my favorite Milton Creamery creation… quark cheese! Spreadable, tart, rich, and one of my all time favorite cheeses. Made right here in Iowa!
One of Iowa’s most unique grocery stores was stop 5 for Team Goodvin. Dutchman’s Store has been a stop for us before and, if you visit, you’ll see why we keep coming back. Yards of freshly baked breads, cookies, pies, and pastries we’re pouring into shoppers baskets and carts. Plants, flowers, crafts, wind chimes, toys, clothing, and supplies of all sorts were on sale. And the grocery section was absolutely packed with shoppers and tourists. We grabbed a fresh loaf of bread and some sliced headcheese for a little snack a local park. Headcheese, Quark, and fresh whole wheat bread. I’ll signup for that any day!
Our last stop of the day was at Sunrise Bakery where had yet another amazing authentic Amish meal cooked by the Bontrager family. An all-you-can-eat feast of breaded chicken, meatloaf, beef and noodles, mashed potatoes and gravy, steamed veggies, homemade pie, fresh bread, and more! They make this meal a few times a year and you NEED to get down to Van Buren County and experience this supper. We were so excited to eat that we made a rookie mistake and didn’t take a single picture of their extravaganza, but we know you can envision the deliciousness. You can click on to Village Hopping Part 2 and see what this great family makes for us travelers. The Sunrise Bakery stop was the perfect ending to our latest visit to this great region. And we haven’t even seen it all in Van Buren County. We can’t wait for part 5!
Thanks for reading! -Team Goodvin