People’s Choice Voting

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 21-March 25. The top three finalists as of March 25 will be invited as our guests to the Partner Site Annual Training on April 5 at the Waterloo Convention Center, where the winner will be announced and receive the traveling award for People’s Choice “Site of the Year.”

Nominees are listed below along with submitted nominations. Click on the button below to place your vote!

People’s Choice Partner Site of the Year Nominees


Established in 1987, the Ackley Heritage Center has a long history of preserving the story of Ackley for future generations. The organization has three sites – the Depot Museum, the Settlement on the Prairie, and the Soda Fountain.
The Depot Museum is filled with photographs, historical documents, and interesting artifacts which together hold, and share, the story of Ackley and the surrounding area. The Settlement on the Prairie is home to an 1870 I-house and reflects the lifestyle of early settlers. The house was restored to its original state and houses many of the organization’s artifacts. The Settlement includes a prairie style barn, the Clutterville Schoolhouse, a carriage house, and Charlie’s windmill. Combined, the buildings depict the history of agriculture in the area and the ‘Story of Corn”.The Soda Fountain is now the home of the local newspaper. For many years it was open to the public as an operating soda shop. Today, visitors are still welcome to stop in to browse displays of old medicines, early businesses, cameras, and East Friesland history.Dedicated and long-term volunteers continue to make the sites available to visitors and community members. There are constant changes in displays allowing the organization to utilize an untold number of artifacts housed in all the locations.

In 2021, the Floyd County Museum had a big year. It included a new education program for kindergarten through 12th grade students, hosted Heritage Fest for hundreds of people, had two free open house events, and started a popular, monthly, guest speaker series featuring local history. We also completed a roof replacement and three chimney removals, as well as starting a new capital improvement project to prioritize and bring up to Museum standards our collections spaces, which included hiring a contract worker. The Museum increased our volunteer program to have over 70 active volunteers, who donated over 2000 hours helping with events, behind the scenes projects, research, and the front desk. 2021 saw a total of 17 new exhibits, including new and rotating exhibit spaces, ranging from monthly to six-month rotations. Staff also redesigned the gift shop, added a kitchen to be available for Community Room rentals, built a new website, and expanded our social media and marketing, all to help create a better visitor experience. FCM also continued to provide manual and build card sales for Hart-Parr, Oliver, White, and Minneapolis Moline tractors and implements. Overall, we have expanded our contribution to telling the agricultural history of Iowa, and more specifically Floyd County, through our education programs and public events, new exhibits, capital improvement and collections preservation projects, volunteer hours, visitor experience, and agricultural manual sales.

I am nominating the George Maier Rural Heritage Center (RHC) in Elkader for the People’s Choice “Site of the Year.” There are many reason why they will be a good choice. The RHC has a very active board to the extent they signed as securers for the $40,000 building addition loan in order to create more space for the Maier collection.

In 2021 a new display room called “The Solder’s Story” was also completed. UNI History students assisted in writing one of the WWII solder’s story. The museum is currently receiving advice from a Camp McCoy historian on designing the military displays and materials.

Another eye-catching project completed was the restoration of the 1915 Studebaker and the historic Allen Motors photo panels display.
The center’s collection continues to expand due to donations from many families – like a 1920 Fordson tractor and a restored 1939 B John Deere.

Recently a generous financial contribution to the Center’s foundation was received that should ensure the sustainability of the museum for years to come. The Center has two fundraising events yearly called Hi-Way 13 Vintage Market. They are held in April and October. The market has proved to be successful in bringing more visitors to the Center each year. This year plans are to improve the displays, do more marketing and encouraging 4-H youth to help. Lastly, the board is offering nearby communities that don’t have museums to create their own display for a year at the Center.

Since 1854, the Iowa State Fair has offered a variety of entertainment, activities, food and competition. It is a cultural affair celebrating everything we know or love about being Iowan. Following a year of historical postponement in 2020, it was remarkable to see people join together again to celebrate during the 2021 Iowa State Fair.

The 2021 Iowa State Fair brought back many Fair favorites along with a few special events including the Bacon Buddies Swine Show for Iowans with special needs, a Latino Celebration on the first Sunday of the Fair, targeted VIP experiences called Fair After Dark and Fair After Work and family programming called Cuddles and Snuggles Chore Time and Barnyard Yoga with bunnies, goats and llamas.

The 2021 Iowa State Fair brought people back together (1,094,480 of them to be exact) to celebrate agriculture, industry, entertainment and achievement.

Living History Farms, an outdoor interactive museum with the mission to educate and connect all peoples to the many stories of Midwestern rural heritage, has been a Smokestacks Partner Site for 25 years.  are unique in that we interpret Iowa’s history over the course of 300 years: Our historic farm sites trace agriculture from indigenous farmers in 1700 to pioneers in 1850 to a horse-powered farm of 1900. Our 1876 town of Walnut Hill illustrates the connection between farms and town businesses.

Our farm sites both preserve the past and bring it to life through hands-on activities. Whether grinding corn or threshing wheat, visitors gain an appreciation for the hard work that has gone into cultivating the land we call Iowa today. Our annual Grain Harvest day in particular highlights the evolution of agricultural technology from hand power to horse power to steam power. In 2021, Grain Harvest also provided an opportunity to celebrate the renewal of our Silos & Smokestacks partnership.

This year we embarked on a new strategic plan that expands the scope of the stories we tell, including more detail about indigenous Iowans, rural Black Iowans, and immigrants. We are also committed to helping visitors connect Iowa’s agricultural heritage to its role in the global economy today.

We are proud of our role in sharing America’s agricultural story as a Silos & Smokestacks Partner Site and look forward to broadening our message in the coming years.