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Potluck: A Taste of Europe in Iowa

Southwest Iowa

Compiled by Carol Bodensteiner and Mary Gottschalk

A Small Tour of Europe
in Southwest Iowa

Savor the tastes and sights of Europe without airport hassles, jet lag, and language barriers. Travelers can sample four countries in two days on a drive through southwest Iowa.

Though close geographically, the communities of Corning, Elk Horn, Manning, and Stanton have retained strong ethnic ties to their French, Danish, German, and Swedish cultures respectively. In the spirit of the European Union, the communities have come together to invite visitors to “eat and tour — tour and eat.”

“Each community has wonderful attractions, and we invite people to enjoy a ‘grand European tour’ of four countries right here in Iowa,” says Beth Waddle of the Adams Community Economic Development Corp. In true European fashion, tour groups will see much and eat more.

Tour stops allow travelers to see restored buildings and sites as they learn about the utopian community the French Icarians established in 1848, see an authentic 350-year-old German hausbarn (a dwelling housing animals and humans under one roof), tour a 60-foot Danish windmill rescued from Denmark, and delve into Swedish history and artifacts. Each community shares the immigrant experience of those making the journey from their home countries to settle the Iowa frontier in the 1800s.

And what is touring without eating? Travelers will enjoy an ever-changing smorgasbord of ethnic delicacies.

A pique-nique française (French picnic) including eclairs and fromage in the Icarian dining hall. Swedish spritz cookies, pepparkaka, östkaka with lingonberries, and, of course, coffee in Stanton. German egg salad, pickled beets, sauerkraut salad, and beer and sauerkraut fudge cupcakes with beer frosting in Manning. Danish frikadeller (meatballs), rugbrød (rye bread), and rødkal (a wonderful red cabbage) in Elk Horn.

Tours visit all four communities in two days but can be structured to meet the needs of each group, says Waddle. For more in-depth cultural experiences, check into the ethnic festivals each community hosts throughout the year.

Tour details and contacts can be found online at,,, and — C.B.

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