People’s Choice Voting

Congratulations to the People’s Choice Site of the Year!

Silos & Smokestacks 2020 People’s Choice Partner Site of the Year is BRUCEMORE. Thank you to all who voted and congratulations to all our nominees!

About People’s Choice Site of the Year

Each year, Silos & Smokestacks National Heritage Area (SSNHA) celebrates the best in heritage development by presenting the “People’s Choice Site of the Year”. Voted on by the public, this special honor is presented to only one deserving SSNHA Partner Site.

Voting will be open to the public at from March 16-March 20. The top three finalists as of March 23 will be invited as our guests to the Partner Site Annual Training on April 7 at Waterloo Center for the Arts, where the winner will be announced and receive the traveling award for People’s Choice “Site of the Year.”

Nominees are listed below with a brief description. Click on the link below to place your vote!

People’s Choice Partner Site of the Year Nominees











For over 30 years, Brucemore has been dedicated to celebrating the history and vibrant artistry of Iowa with local, regional, and national audiences. As Iowa’s only National Trust Historic Site, Brucemore offers a menu of innovative programs and events throughout the year. The organization preserves and leverages the historical significance of the site and its collection – including a 26-acre cultural landscape and seven historic buildings – to provide historical interpretive programs, cultural events, and community collaborations. More than 45,000 people annually engage with the site, including visitors from all 99 counties in Iowa, 45 states, and over 20 countries. After visiting, audiences report having a greater appreciation for the history of Iowa; are more likely to explore the culture and history of the greater Eastern Iowa area; and feel more engaged in the community as the result of their visit. In 2020, Brucemore was selected as the “Outstanding Attraction” of the state by Travel Iowa. In 2019, Brucemore was recognized as the seventh Best Historic House Holiday Tour nationwide by USAToday and the Best Cultural Attraction by the Corridor Business Journal.










The Fossil & Prairie Park Reserve

As a Silos and Smokestacks National Heritage Area original partner site, the Fossil & Prairie Park Preserve has been sharing their agricultural connection of the story of the Rockford Brick & Tile Company. This company was well known in northeastern Iowa as the chosen source of drainage tile and bricks until the mid-1970’s. Although the Fossil & Prairie Park Preserve may be best known for the Devonian fossils that can be collected there, it is the Rockford Brick & Tile Co. that can be credited for the accidental discovery. Staff and volunteers have worked to maintain the historic site production site including the original beehive kilns as well as share the stories of the employees through interpretative signage and displays.

Since opening the Fossil & Prairie Center in 2001, the area welcomes 5,000 visitors annually. Volunteers welcome visitors and share their knowledge throughout the visitor season. The Fossil & Prairie Center contains exhibits on the history of the Rockford Brick & Tile Company as well as on the Devonian fossils, Iowa’s native prairie and Backyard wildlife. Many schools travel to the Park as a designation field trip. The fossils they collect provide a hands-on story of Iowa historical past, 365 million years ago to the Devonian period.

During the year the Fossil & Prairie Park Preserve is host to many events such as: the Jon Tumilson “Go Crush It” 5K Challenge, the Fossil & Prairie Park 5K Run/Walk, ISU Extension Master Conservationist course.










Indian Creek Nature Center

Indian Creek Nature Center is Iowa’s largest and only nonprofit Nature Center and has been a leader in sustainable practices for decades. The Nature Center’s mission is to promote a more sustainable future through environmental education, leadership in land protection and restoration, and encouraging responsible interaction with nature. In 2019, their Amazing Space building achieved Living Building Challenge Petal Certification, making it one of the most sustainable buildings in the world (one of only 31 Petal Certified buildings globally and the only in Iowa). They also launched the Midwest Organic Center, in partnership with the Rodale Institute and Frontier Co-op. The MOC will provide resources to support Iowa’s organic farmers, enhance the growth of more organic farms throughout the region, research innovative, regenerative, organic farming methods, gather data on differences between conventional and organic farming methods in Iowa’s unique climate and soil, and create progressive opportunities in agriculture. In 2020, the Nature Center will also begin installation of the Indian Creek Exhibit, which will “flow” through the main exhibit hall and provide opportunities for people of all ages and abilities to learn about Indian Creek and inform future generations about water & its impact on our daily lives. The opportunities the Nature Center provides for learning, growth and unstructured play in nature are critical to protecting our natural environment into the future.











Iowa State Fair

Having a diverse selection of entertainment and exhibition, the Iowa State Fair is a tradition unlike any other for many families. There is truly something for everyone at the Iowa State Fair and all Fairgoers can create their own unique experiences. From the livestock competitions, to the machinery and industrial exhibits, to the games, rides and food, there’s something for everyone.

Annually attracting more than a million people from all over the world, the Iowa State Fair is a salute to Iowa’s best in agriculture, industry, entertainment and achievement. The Iowa State Fair has had three record attendances in the last four years, proving that it attracts huge populations of not only Iowans, but beyond. The Fair strives to increase audience diversity and reach each year and help increase Iowa tourism through various events such as a Latino celebration, Fair After Dark for 21 plus, and Farm to Fair about where your food comes from. These events and many others help Fairgoers learn more about different cultures and industries in Iowa.

With all of the events and activities taking place on the Fairgrounds, attendance numbers and participation show that that the Iowa State Fair attracts people from all over the world to show all of the great things that make up Iowa.











Seed Savers Exchange

Imagine a magical place amid the scenic bluffs of Decorah, Iowa, boasting an array of beautiful gardens that draw thousands of gardeners and other visitors each spring into fall. Then imagine that these gardens showcase only open-pollinated varieties, many of which have been passed down from one generation to the next to ensure their safekeeping.

That place is the 890-acre Heritage Farm headquarters of Seed Savers Exchange, the nonprofit founded in 1975 by Diane Ott Whealy and Kent Whealy to save and share rare heirloom varieties and preserve seed diversity. “We can only preserve heirloom seeds through active stewardship,” Diane has often said. “If we don’t use them, if we don’t allow them to grow again, they become lost.”

Today Seed Savers Exchange preserves more than 20,000 open-pollinated varieties at Heritage Farm, where seeds are stored in climate-controlled conditions and periodically grown out to maintain their vigor. Visitors to the farm can tour several carefully cultivated display gardens, view heritage livestock breeds (including the rare and beautiful Ancient White Park cattle), visit historic orchards, hike miles of trails, fish for trout, and, over the course of the year, experience events like the ever-popular annual Conference and Campout.

Open from March through October, the Lillian Goldman Visitors Center also offers a variety of seeds and plants, garden gear and tools, and garden-themed art and books for sale in support of Seed Savers Exchange’s mission.