downtown Amana — Saturday, July 21 at 10 a.m.
This Saturday, July 21, Amana will celebrate its third annual Kinderfest. A full day of events — many of them free — aimed at children ages 4-10 will take over downtown Amana. Events begin at different times throughout the day.
Organizers of the yearly tradition don’t track visitor numbers, but according to Amana Colonies Convention and Visitors Bureau Executive Director David Rettig’s “eyeball test,” it’s seen growth, and he expects that to continue this year, especially with good weather in the forecast. Last year, he said in an email, the popular Meet the Breeds event (10 a.m., Visitor Center), where the Iowa City Dog Obedience Club introduces children to a variety of dog breeds, had to end early due to the heat, which shouldn’t be a problem this weekend.
“We wanted to attract families from around Eastern Iowa at this time of year,” Rettig said of Kinderfest’s origins. “The Amana Colonies are a great destination for families; it’s clean, safe and has a unique history. What we don’t have on a regular basis are a variety of activities specifically for children. Activities where they can make things or experience hands-on fun. Kinderfest is about that.”
This year, there will be extra fun at one of Amana’s core businesses, the Noble Stone. The popular rock, fossil and gemstone store is celebrating its 10th anniversary and is offering a wide variety of activities during Kinderfest to celebrate. In addition to door prizes and a tent sale, they’ll host a visit from the Iowa Gold Panning Club, hold an indoor mining sluice and be cracking geodes (you can bring in your own or purchase one at the store).
Celebrating by inspiring kids is the perfect way for proprietors Jenise and Ithiel Catiri to spend what they’re calling the store’s “Rockiversary” — rockhounding has been a passion for both since they were kids themselves. Together, they grew their shared interest beyond just a hobby.
“We have hunted and discovered many things,” Jenise Catiri said in an email. “We even spent a couple years excavating a juvenile Triceratops dinosaur in South Dakota.” And now, “We have evolved into hav[ing] the largest selection in Iowa of rocks & fossils from all over the world,” she said.
The Catiris hope to spend their next 10 years building on their connections in the community.
“More hands-on activities and more events,” Jenise said of their goals. “We want to expand the metaphysical aspects and are planning a new event for next June that is all focused on that. A big focus will always be getting the kids exciting about rocks, fossils and nature in general.”
Kids can get excited about an event that’s all about them at the Noble Stone and throughout Amana for Kinderfest on Saturday (and with an in-stores guessing game that carries through Sunday).
“The Maifest, Wurst Festival and Oktoberfest are more centrally located, everything in one spot and are more for adults,” Rettig said. “They offer music, food and drink. Kinderfest is all around town and provides special activities for the kids. It puts the focus on things that kids want to do.”