On the Road: Northwood

Published 9:31 am Thursday, September 16, 2010

Enjoy a Fall Festival, followed by dinner and a movie, at historic Northwood, just four miles south of the border, this weekend. -- Michelle Haacke/Albert Lea Tribune

Autumn celebration and good eats south of the border

NORTHWOOD, Iowa — Take a leisurely drive south of the border, four miles to be exact, to Northwood this weekend for an autumn celebration, good eats and more.

Perhaps best known to travelers heading south on Interstate 35 for the bright lights and even brighter promises of the town’s unofficial welcome center, the Diamond Jo Casino, a bypass onto Highway 65 south out of Albert Lea will lead motorists straight into the Northwood Central Avenue Historic District.

Corn husks from last weekend’s Founder’s Day light pole contest, each light pole decorated with a bundle of corn husks in different themes — pink ribbon awareness, Iowa State Cyclones, mentoring and the State Farm Insurance scarecrow — give a warm autumn greeting to visitors.

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Although the town’s official annual autumn celebration, Founder’s Day, was held last weekend, visitors this weekend and next will enjoy a fall festival hosted by Lisa Olson and her daughter, Chelsea.

The event will feature a variety of vendors showcasing handmade crafts, primitive antiques, corn shocks, baked goods, pumpkins and gourds, along with free food samplings. Each Saturday, adults will enjoy wine tasting with Iowa wineries.

Children will enjoy seeing the Angus cows, horses, and picking eggs from the henhouse. “People just like to come out for the country feel,” said Olson. “It’s just alot of fun.”

The festival will take place Sept. 17 through 19 and again Sept. 24 through 26 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Olson family farm, located seven miles east of Northwood off Highway 105, north half-mile on Vine.

“If you want to get out of town for a date night, come down for supper and a movie,” said Teresa George, the Northwood Chamber of Commerce president.

A variety of eateries line the historic district, each whetting a different sort of appetite. Early travelers will enjoy breakfast or lunch at The Corner Post. The Shade Tree, a bar and lounge, offers separate lunch and dinner menus. Signature’s Supper Club is famous for its 32-ounce King Cut Prime Rib. Soups, Pizza and Grill is mostly open for dinner with the occasional lunches (check the establishment for lunch days) and The Daily Buzz is known for its tacos.

“North Star Express is a gas station/convenience store just north of town,” added George. “They have an outside bistro at night.”

One unique establishment, well worth the drive, is the Worth Brewing Company. North Iowa’s only brewery offers new beer styles monthly in the tap room, guest craft and imports, pub quiz nights and an appetizer menu.

After dinner, enjoy a picture show at the renovated Northwood Theatre, located at the corner of Central Avenue and Eighth Street where Highways 65 and 105 converge.