Checking out some of our favorite Midwest festivals

Midwest summer festival season kicks off this weekend with celebrations in areas including Pella, Iowa. The annual tulip festival is a great celebration there.

Tulip Time in Pella and Orange City, IA

Celebrating Dutch ancestry and culture kick off our look at area summer festivals. Pella, Iowa, celebrates the 81st annual Tulip Time festival May 5-7. Parades, tours of the working windmill and great food are part of the events for the central Iowa community.

We have visited Pella and Orange City, Iowa, during their tulip festivals. The cities actually support one another. Each city’s high school marching band performs in the other’s parade.

Orange City in northwestern Iowa celebrates its Danish heritage this month.

Pella is more than tulips and Stroopwafel. Wyatt Earp – of Gunfight at the OK Corral Wyatt Earp – called Pella home for 14 years, through his mid-teens.

Working windmills are viewable in a few Iowa towns, including Pella.

But, tulips are the main reason for visiting Pella during Tulip Time. And are they ever beautiful. Pella has some of the most impressive flowers you will ever see. I swear one set was translucent.

These tulips may be our favorite flower of all time.

A couple of weeks later, you can head to northeast Iowa and take in the Orange City Tulip Festival, May 19-21. The hometown of the Pizza Ranch restaurant chain puts together a fantastic event. We loved the afternoon parade. The street washers are fun to watch, as they put buckets in water tanks and sprayed more people than cleaning streets.

Orange City students perform traditional dances during their celebration.

The traditional dances alone are worth the trip to Orange City. Schools teach the dances, so the children perform well.

When you go to Orange City, remember to try the poffertjes, small pancakes with sugar powder.

North Iowa Band Festival – Mason City, IA

Memorial Day weekend brings high school marching bands to the North Iowa community of Mason City. The North Iowa Band Festival featured 18 bands in 2015. The parade features 76 trombones, from the song featured in “The Music Man.” The musical was written by Mason City native Meredith Willson.

If you like marching bands, check out Mason City, Iowa, Memorial Day weekend. A parade featuring participating bands takes place that Saturday.

The city is home to the Music Man Square, a museum in Willson’s honor.

Mason City is the hometown of Meredith Willson, who wrote the musical “The Music Man.”

July 4th in Clear Lake, IA

A few miles west of Mason City, Clear Lake hosts a five-day long Independence Day celebration. The town of 7,000 balloons to about 100,000 as people gather to celebrate America’s birthday.

A midway, amusement rides, food, music and a parade are featured during the celebration. July 4th features fireworks over Clear Lake.

Clear Lake takes a few days to celebrate Independence Day, beginning July 1.

Nebraskaland Days – North Platte, NE

North Platte, Nebraska, celebrates Nebraskaland Days June 15-25. It features a rodeo, amusement rides, parade and concerts. Dierks Bentley is the headliner for the festival. We attended the 2014 celebration, courtesy of the North Platte visitors bureau.

North Platte is the sight of Nebraskland Days, beginning mid-June.

We watched a special presentation of a Buffalo Bill Wild West show. We were super impressed when we got tickets to see Lady Antebellum close out the concert series. We’re big fans of the band. We saw them as they coming up the country music ladder. They opened for Martina McBride in Council Bluffs.

Country acts, such as Lady Antebellum, perform during Nebraskaland Days. Dierks Bentley is the headliner this year.

National Balloon Classic – Indianola, IA

Hundreds of hot air balloons will take to the skies July 29-August 6 in Indianola, Iowa, as part of the National Balloon Classic. We’ve attended both the NBC and the International Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The Indianola classic is a first rate operation and quenched our desire to take in a fun balloon event.

Indianola, Iowa, hosts the annual National Balloon Classic in late July. Hundreds of balloonists will fly during the event.

Check out the National Balloon museum while you visit the National Balloon Classic. The museum traces the history of balloons in the worlds, as well as Iowa.

Iowa State Fair – Des Moines, IA

We had a blast attending the Iowa State Fair last year. In fact, it was the first state fair either of us has attended. The massive amounts of food on a stick, politicians roaming the grounds and attractions made our day at the state enjoyable.

The Iowa State Fair in Des Moines features hundreds of food on a stick.

We were impressed with the long lines of people who waited patiently for their turn to see the famous Butter Cow. We were among them. And, yes, the Butter Cow is worth the wait.

The Butter Cow is a must-see at the Iowa State Fair

This year’s fair in Des Moines is slated for Aug. 11-21. It should be relatively politician-free, since the Iowa Caucuses are over.

Ride above the fair

Superman Festival – Metropolis, IL

One festival we must attend – perhaps along with a certain Indiana nephew – is the Superman Festival in Metropolis, Illinois. This year’s event is June 9-12. The city, which is deemed Superman’s hometown, rolls out the carpet for all things Man of Steel.

Metropolis, Illinois, hosts its annual Superman Days

The festival includes a movie festival and several celebrities. This year’s main guest is Peter Facinelli. He portrayed Maxwell Lord during the first season of “Supergirl” on CBS during the 2015-16 season.

Lois Lane is honored with a statue in Metropolis

The Midwest is home to some of the best celebrations and festivals anyone can think of. We need to expand our horizons and visit places such as Milwaukee, Detroit, Kansas City, St. Louis and Chicago, as well as smaller communities, for cultural, ethnic, music and more.

So, as you check out the festivals and events in your neck of the woods, we hope you enjoy yourself and have a great time. Bring on summer!