On June 12th-14th, the town of Jefferson, Iowa held their annual Bell Tower Festival. For those of you who have not traveled to Jefferson, the estate of Mr. and Mrs. Floyd Mahanay paid for the tower to be built out of glass and ceramic cement. It rises 165 feet into the air which is the equivalent of 14 stories. It has a glass elevator and an observation deck at 120feet and then extends another 45 feet into the air. The views are spectacular! And it is said you can see 6 counties on a clear Iowa day.
The tower was built in 1966. Next year, in 2016, it will be 50 years old! The 14 bells in the tower were cast in a foundry in the Netherlands and they chime every 15 minutes. For the concerts given three times a day, the music used to be played on an electronic keyboard but now recorded music is played. It has been said that Mr. Mahanay saw a tower like this in Florida and wished for one to be built in his hometown of Jefferson. The cost for an adult to ride the elevator to the top is $3 and kids ride for free.
The Bell Tower Festival has all of the makings of a typical Iowa town celebration and then some!A parade and vendor/food booths graced the town square. Many groups like the firemen and Elks offered breakfast, spaghetti lunch, burgers and brats, barbeques, chicken noodle supper, or watermelon feed. There was live entertainment, car show, antique tractor show, motorcycle show and ride, spelling bee, art show, and bags tournament. The 1875~RVP company gave live demonstrations of their furniture making, using all hand tools like they did in the 1800’s. And in keeping with the “bell” theme, there was a Ding Dong Dash and a Green “Bell” Pepper challenge. A beverage tent with live music cooled the crowd down in the evenings.
At dusk, a Star Watch event began in the Dollar General parking lot. On Sunday, a kid’s fishing tournament and a second performance of the History Boy’s “Company” helped bring an end to another successful festival.
The Green County Chamber and Development has a countdown on their website for the 2016 one already. Go to http://greenecountyiowa.org/gccd-tourism-news.php and make sure you mark your calendar to “chime” in and celebrate the 50 years of bells in Jefferson.