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    Fall Fun

    Dig fall fun in the Cedar Valley

  • Travel Waterloo

    Travel Waterloo Blog

    Dig travel ideas and inspiration

  • Waterloo Black Hawks Hockey

    Waterloo Black Hawks Hockey

    Dig home games in Party Town

  • Sullivan Brothers Iowa Veterans Museum

    Sullivan Brothers Iowa Veterans Museum

    Dig inspiring stories of sacrifice

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    Dig an evening with the wcfsymphony

Dig Deeper in Waterloo

Explore our vibrant downtown district featuring award-winning museums, locally-owned restaurants, and an impressive riverside amphitheatre. Tour the new John Deere Tractor & Engine Museum, visit the Isle Casino, and enjoy the Cedar Valley Trails via bicycle or kayak. Catch exciting sports teams and immerse yourself in arts and culture. And did we mention we're home to Lost Island Water Park? It's Iowa's largest! Plus, did a little deeper and check out our family-friendly festivals and events.

Watch episodes from our new travel series - "Travel Waterloo".
Follow the hashtag #IDigWaterloo for photos, videos, and travel inspiration.

Waterloo Convention & Visitors Bureau Blog

The Waterloo Black Hawks were founded in 1962 as a semi-pro “senior” team. The team began its winning tradition almost immediately, winning its first league championship in just its second year in existence. The winning tradition has continued over the years with five Clark Cup Finals appearances during Head Coach P.K. O’Handley’s time with the team.

Aaron & RyleyThe two players we talked to in this week’s episode spoke at length about the atmosphere fans experience at Young Arena, aka Party Town. Both said the fan support here in Waterloo is better than any place they’ve ever played. The cowbells and cheering fans have created the best home-ice advantage in the United States Hockey League (USHL). The Arena features seating for nearly 3,000, but accommodates as many as 3,500 with standing room tickets. The video board and great food and beverage options make the in-game experience even greater for fans throughout the Arena.

There isn’t a bad seat in the house, either. If you talk to a dozen fans, you’ll probably get a dozen different recommendations for the best seat in the house. Hockey games are a great place for outings of all types. Take your kids. Take a date. Take your co-workers. The action and the environment make for an awesome experience.

Aaron Suiting UpYou can check the Black Hawks game schedule, learn more about the team, buy tickets, and check out gear on their website. A cool addition available to you is a downloadable file, so you can merge the team’s schedule with your Outlook calendar. That way, you won’t miss any great action!

Follow the hashtag #IDigWaterloo for photos, videos, and travel inspiration.

- Aaron Buzza, Waterloo Convention & Visitors Bureau

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There’s always room for ice cream, and when that ice cream is from Moo Roo in Waterloo, you’re getting the very best. We had the chance to visit Moo Roo to sample ice cream and other products produced by Hansen’s Farm Fresh Dairy just outside of Hudson and just 20 miles from downtown Waterloo.

ProductsMilk is milk and ice cream is ice cream, you may be thinking. There is a HUGE difference when you compare, though. Starting with excellent milk provides a great base for all of the products Hansen’s makes – ice cream, cheese curds, egg nog and butter to name a few. Milk and other products from Hansen’s comes from their own closed herd. They milk 150+ cows twice a day, and because they’re processing the milk, too, you know that it is all local. In fact, they’re so local that the milk you buy may be less than 24 hours old. That gives you a higher-quality product and a longer shelf life. When milk is homogenized by bigger companies, the milk molecules can break down. Hansen’s milk is non-homogenized which means you’re getting a more natural product.

Zay & CowThe tour at Hansen’s Farm Fresh Dairy is awesome! FlipKey.com compiled a list of the 50 most loved and talked about food tours in each state and Hansen’s is #1 here in Iowa. It was also recognized by CNN Travel as one of the top five ice cream tours nationwide. For good reason too. You get an opportunity to see all areas of the farm and all aspects of production, plus it's a hands-on experience as well (feeding calves, making butter, milking a cow). You also get to meet the kangaroos that make the farm home. As Zay found out, they’re the “roo” in Moo Roo.

Zay & Ice CreamSpeaking of Moo Roo: That’s the place to go for the awesome ice cream. We learned quite a bit about how the ice cream is made at Hansen's Creamery, and found out that Hansen’s ice cream is more dense than other brands of ice cream. There’s less air injected into the ice cream during processing, so you get more for your money and there’s a richer texture to it as well. Zay found out that picking one favorite was really challenging. While he enjoyed his Cookie Dough ice cream, he tasted several others, including Snickers, and the look on his face as he decided told us all that he was having quite a bit of trouble making his final decision. While you can’t go wrong with any of the ice cream at Moo Roo, I’d recommend checking out any special or seasonal flavors they have. Those are always a treat! The vanilla is awesome and the butter pecan is as good an ice cream as I’ve ever had. The soft serve is really good, too, as are the ice cream sandwiches made with oatmeal chocolate chip cookies.

MilkMoo Roo is open daily until 9pm. Tours at Hansen's Farm Fresh Dairy are available throughout the year, though Jordan told us that most occur from early spring through October. Check out their website for more information about the farm and their products.

Follow the hashtag #IDigWaterloo for photos, videos, and travel inspiration.

- Aaron Buzza, Waterloo Convention & Visitors Bureau

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Single Speed ExteriorSingleSpeed Brewing Company’s plans to expand to downtown Waterloo is one of the – or maybe THE – most exciting announcements in recent memory. The project will transform an historic building, add to a vibrant downtown, and bring new jobs to the community. It adds quality of life for those of us who live, work and play here, and it will be an additional draw for visitors. 

In this week’s episode, SingleSpeed owner Dave Morgan talks about the draw of the former Wonder Bread bakery building. The character, history and location of the building, as well as its size, were all major reasons he was passionate about the move. His passion was matched, or exceeded, by a group of passionate citizens (Friends of the Waterloo Wonder Bread Building) who wanted to see the building saved. Other communities around the country have seen former Wonder Bread/Hostess bakery buildings become breweries and brew-pubs.

Wonder Bread SignCraft beer sales increased in 2014 by 17.6%, but Iowa is in the bottom 20% of states in the nation as far as craft beer production is concerned. The expansion of SingleSpeed will allow Morgan to drastically increase production immediately and will provide opportunity for additional future growth as well. Studies about craft beer project increasing demand nationwide for many years to come, and approximately 25% of Iowa breweries and brew-pubs expect to see revenue grow by at least 50% from 2014 to 2015. SingleSpeed is part of an industry that has an economic impact of more than $100 million in the state of Iowa, and that number will continue to grow as breweries like SingleSpeed expand production and expand opportunities for their customers.

And what opportunities there will be in downtown Waterloo!

  • Morgan plans for a significant expansion of his beer production facility.
  • He also will have a beer hall, restaurant and event space. The restaurant menu is being planned now, but will be Midwest-influenced cuisine. Morgan said it will also feature as much local product as possible, and the offerings will rotate seasonally. The chef will pair food with SingleSpeed beers and will have the opportunity to create special items based on beers and seasonal foods available.
  • The brewery and restaurant will be great compliments to downtown activities, whether it is a performance at the Waterloo Community Playhouse, a concert at the RiverLoop Amphitheatre, a Black Hawks hockey game, or an event at the Cedar Valley SportsPlex.

Single Speed InteriorWe’ll be following along as the project takes shape. Morgan told us to look for beer produced in downtown Waterloo to be available in locations around downtown maybe as early as next July, with the restaurant and beer hall following next fall.

Follow the hashtag #IDigWaterloo for photos, videos, and travel inspiration.

- Aaron Buzza, Waterloo Convention & Visitors Bureau

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Fall is my absolute favorite time of the year. It always has been and always will be. Cozy sweaters, pumpkin spice ANYTHING, crunchy leaves, football games...the list goes on and on. Plus, there's a lot of great things happening in the Cedar Valley during the next couple of months.

We've compiled a list of fall recommendations below, and the best part is some of them are FREE!

Fall Blog Post

Fall Events & Festivals
Don't miss cemetary walks with the Cedar Falls Historical Society and Grout Museum District, or the Spooks, Spokes & Sneakers bicycle ride and powder fun run. Or, stock up on fall produce and goodies like apples, squash and honey at one of our local farmers' markets. Many are still open through the end of October. Looking for more? Visit our events calendar for a full listing of events taking place in the Cedar Valley.

Fall Blog Post 2

Trails & Fall Foliage

The Cedar Valley is home to over 106 miles of hard-surfaced recreational trails and fall is the perfect time to enjoy them. Organizations like the Cedar Valley Association for Soft Trails, Cedar Valley Cyclists, and Cedar Trails Partnership plan a plethora of activities for cyclists throughout the fall season. There's also plenty of opportunities to experience the trails on foot. Each year, the Hartman Reserve Nature Center hosts their Halloween Hikes. This non-scary walk through a candle-lit trail in the evening is complete with forest characters and hot cocoa.

Fall is also one of the best times to take in the beautiful display of red, orange and yellow leaves. One of my favorite places to visit in the fall is George Wyth State Park. Whether you're hitting the trails or just taking in the scenery, nature really puts on a show here in the fall. The Cedar Valley Arboretum & Botanic Gardens also offers a stunning display of fall colors with the many trees, plants and flowers spread amongst the grounds. Peak fall color typically occurs in northeast Iowa around the weekend closest to October 10. Check the Iowa Department of Natural Resources website for weekly fall reports.

Fall Blog Post 3

Pumpkin Patches & Halloween Haunts

From pumpkin patches to pumpkin launchers, the whole family is sure to enjoy a trip to any of the following places.

A Family Market Place
257 Ansborough Ave (NCC Grounds), Waterloo
(319) 961-6099
Hours: Daily 11am-8pm
Cost: Free
Pumpkin Patch and Petting Zoo.

Heartland Farms
5111 Osage Rd, Waterloo
(319) 232-3779
Hours: Tues-Sun 10am-7pm
Cost: Tues-Fri $8; Sat/Sun $10; Kids ages 2 & under free
Scarecrow's Haunted Barn, Haunted Scarytale Cornfield, Pumpkin Playland, Punkinator, giant jumping pillow, hayrides and farm animals.

Fall Blog Post 4

Or, if being spooked is more your thing, there are quite a few haunted houses in the Cedar Valley to get your scare on.

Harris Haven Funeral & Mortuary Haunted House
3767 Lafayette Rd, Evansdale
(319) 231-5195
Hours: Oct 2-3, 9-11, 16-18, 23-25, 28-31 (Thurs/Sun 7-10pm; Fri/Sat 7pm-Midnight)
Cost: $13

Haunted Hayride
100 Waterhawk Rd, Evansdale
Hours: Oct 9-10, 16-18, 23-25, 30 (Fri/Sat Dark-Midnight; Sun Dark-10pm)
Cost: $10 ($1 off coupon online)

Heart of Darkness
5111 Orange Rd, Waterloo
(319) 232-3779
Hours: Oct 2-3, 9-10, 15-18, 22-25, 29-31 (Thurs 7-10pm; Fri/Sat 7pm-Midnight, Sun TBD)
Cost: Thurs/Sun $15; Fri/Sat $17 (Save $2 off admission when you purchase tickets online)

Panic Park Haunted House
5932 N Union Road (Rotary Reserve), Cedar Falls
(319) 433-7275
Hours: Oct 2-3, 9-10, 16-17, 22-24, 29-31 (Thurs 7-10pm; Fri/Sat 7-11pm)
Cost: $15 ($1 off Fri/Sat with food donation; $2 off Thurs with food donation)*
*Discounts not valid on car load night (Oct 9).

Fall Blog Post 5

Spectacular Sports

When I think fall, one of the first things that comes to mind is sports. In the Cedar Valley, you can cheer on the University of Northern Iowa Panthers and Waterloo Black Hawks, or simply enjoy a round of golf with friends. Other spectator opportunities include races at the Cedar Falls Motorsports Park, USA Wrestling Pre-Season Nationals, and Iowa High School Football Playoffs.

Fall Blog Post 6

Tricks or Treats

Last, but certainly not least...fall wouldn't be complete without trick-or-treating. Both downtown Cedar Falls and Waterloo, and Scheels host FREE trick-or-treating events for the little ones. In addition, this year the Phelps Youth Pavilion is putting on a "Monster Mash" for families.

We encourage you to get out and enjoy all that fall has to offer in the Cedar Valley. Try something new or maybe just stop and look around at nature's beauty - you won't be disappointed.

Share your fall photos with us on Facebook or tag them with the hashtag #IDigWaterloo on Twitter or Instagram for a chance to win an #IDigWaterloo t-shirt!

- Beth Keeney, Waterloo Convention & Visitors Bureau

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NCC Fair 2Five years ago, I was talking with my Grandpa Dean and he asked what was happening in Waterloo the coming weekend. I told him it was the National Cattle Congress Fair and he quickly asked if it was still the same type of fair it used to be. He attended more than 80 years ago with his parents. They drove down from southeast Minnesota to see the livestock and the exhibits. Until that point in time, I didn't know that Grandpa and I had a shared experience in attending the fair. He shared some very fond memories of the experience, and I told him that we hear many similar memories every year from people who attended as a kid, or people who saw a great concert, or someone who can't wait for Tom Thumb donuts.

NCC Fair 3The National Cattle Congress Fair evokes great memories and nostalgia for people nationwide. The fair was once the premiere dairy cattle show in the United States. It was scheduled in early October so that the grand champion dairy cattle from every surrounding state could compete to be the best of the best. As family farms were bought by corporations, the agriculture focus waned, but this year more than 500 head of dairy cattle will be at the fair. They'll be joined by llamas, pigs and other livestock.

If you play word association and say "Cattle Congress" to someone who grew up in Waterloo, their likely response will be "Tom Thumb donuts,"  "Noodle Nook," or "mini loaves of bread." Those three things were staples of the Cattle Congress experience for almost everyone. With the exception of the bread loaves, you can still get you throwback feel with an order of donuts or a stop at the Noodle Nook.

Our interviews this week were a lot of fun to film.NCC Fair 1

  • The nostalgic feeling was evident as Christa talked about the donuts and her experience getting them every year without fail.
  • Wally's experience as a kid coming to the fair juxtaposed with his current role on the NCC Board of Directors was fun to hear about, too. The young Wally's experience seeing livestock is what made him passionate about bringing the focus on livestock back to the fair.

This year's fair will tip its cap to the past AND the fair's history. The schedule is full of great shows and livestock events that would have been on the schedule when Grandpa Dean attended as a young man. It also looks to the future, with its theme "Capture the Fun." Attendees will be encouraged to complete a photo scavenger hunt around the grounds, post photos to social media, and tell their friends how awesome their experience is. Just make sure the photos are selfies and not ones of me stuffing Tom Thumb donuts into my mouth.

2015 National Cattle Congress Fair
September 17-20, Gates open at 9am
National Cattle Congress, Waterloo
Tickets: Adults $10/day; Seniors ages 60+ $8/day; Kids ages 5-17 $5/day; Kids ages 4 & under free. Super Passes: $20 (gets you into the fair all four days).

Follow the hashtag #IDigWaterloo for photos, videos, and travel inspiration.

- Aaron Buzza, Waterloo Convention & Visitors Bureau

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