MAPPING OUT A ROUTE from Mason City to Dubuque, Iowa, last summer, I routed our drive through Strawberry Point, which is 10 miles from Arlington. Remember that.
The world’s largest strawberry sculpture is made of fiberglass, weighs 1,430 pounds, is 15 feet high, 12 feet wide and was constructed in 1967.
Strawberry Point is home to the world’s largest strawberry. I delight in kitschy roadside art, thus the stop in this town of nearly 1,300.
There’s even a Strawberry Motel.
Homespun address signage in Strawberry Point.
A sweet message outside a cafe.
Additionally, I find the name, Strawberry Point, charming. Its name history traces to the soldiers, traders and railroad workers who savored the wild strawberries growing along the area’s trails and hillsides.
Driving into Strawberry Point.
On the late August afternoon my husband and I drove into Strawberry Point, I was tired and crabby. Mostly due to the excessive heat and humidity. But also due to the endless travel through an Iowa countryside that seemed monotonous in fields and flatness. This is unusual for me to feel this way given my appreciation for rural prairie landscapes.
This impressive building anchors a corner in downtown Strawberry Point and houses a coffee shop/cafe and hotel.
Had I not been in such a funky mood, I would have explored more. Looking now at my photos from downtown Strawberry Point, I see what I missed. That sprawling brick corner building labeled Coffee Shop/The Franklin Hotel calls for exploration. Just like other places in Iowa.
The strawberry sculpture sits in the heart of downtown Strawberry Point.
How many of you had heard of Arlington, Iowa, before this season’s reality TV show The Bachelor aired? The star, bachelor farmer Chris Soules, dubbed “Prince Farming”, is from Arlington.
Signage remained from RAGBRAI, the bike ride across Iowa.
Last July Soules met with RAGBRAI bikers in Strawberry Point, greeting folks in a fire department fundraiser. I missed him by a month. Not that I had even heard of him then.
While I don’t agree with the premise of The Bachelor, trying to find true love by dating multiple women simultaneously, I do see the show’s current value to Iowa, specifically, Arlington. That community of less than 500 is using its moment in the spotlight to raise funds for a new community center via sales of “The Other Bachelors of Arlington, Iowa” calendars. Local farmer and community volunteer John Fedeler came up with the calendar idea featuring 12 Arlington bachelors. Brilliant.
From what I’ve read on the campaign’s Facebook page, it’s a tastefully done calendar that can be yours for $14.99 plus $2 for shipping.
For example, here’s the bio on Mr. September, Jordan:
Mr. September was born in Arlington and helps out on his family’s farm. When he is not farming with his father, Mr. September works to grow his computer consulting business and practices his piloting skill. Mr. September is more reserved about details of his love life, but joked that he will be a “bachelor till the rapture”. Mr. September would give you the shirt off of his back if you needed it and is not afraid to reach out a helping hand.
A farm site somewhere in notheast Iowa between Nashua and Strawberry Point.
He sounds like one wholesome Iowa farm boy to me.
Somewhere in northeastern Iowa.
And isn’t that the image we have of Iowa—a good, wholesome place of mostly farm fields and small towns? Pigs and corn. Fields of opportunities?
© Copyright 2015 Audrey Kletscher Helbling