Franklin County, Iowa, ‘combines’ agriculture and attractions into fun, educational visit

North Iowa farm combine

What do latte, farm combines, vaudeville and pumpkins have in common? They make for a great weekend in North Iowa.

Lisa and I were invited to be one of five blogging sites to spend the weekend in Franklin County, Iowa. We were based in Hampton, but spent time at sites around the county.

Our busy weekend started with a visit to the Franklin County Historical Museum. The museum houses a variety of artifacts, covering gas stations, 4-H, kitchens through the 1800s and 1900s, as well as a great exhibit on farm equipment.

I enjoyed checking out the variety of barbed wire. There are framed displays of the various styles of barbed wire.

Franklin County Historical Museum

An impressive display covers the military history of Admiral William Leahy. The Hampton native served as Chief of Staff for President Franklin Roosevelt.

Franklin County Historical Museum

The museum has the bell from USS Leahy, as well as a replica of the naval destroyer. The ship served the Navy fleet 1962-93.

Franklin County HIstorical Museum

For more on the museum, please visit

Following the visit to the museum, we took a trip downtown. Nothing says “Americana” like a small town’s main street. I lived in two small towns during my lifetime, so I think I know a thing or two about main streets (Ha ha).

Main Street Hampton IA

I really liked the fall decorations lining the streets – hay bales with festive décor.

Downtown Hampton, IA

We stopped for a latte at Rustic Brew. The establishment offers coffee in the morning and beer later in the day. It has its own brewery on the second floor. The Rustic Brew has great artwork on the walls – historical murals and coffee related.

Rustic Brew

We took our coffee and headed to Korner Bakery across the street. We grabbed couple of donut holes to munch on while we walked along Main Street.

Downtown stores offered us a variety of unique shops. We stopped in the Wood Cellar, which sells household décor. The Orange Possum has an eclectic inventory of clothes and accessories. The Pharmacy had a variety of items for sale, including a boatload of sports-related items featuring the three main Iowa football programs – the University of Iowa, Iowa State and Northern Iowa.

Wood Cellar

The county courthouse sits in a square. The grounds had a few trees that have started to turn fall colors.

Hampton Courthouse

The county veteran memorial is located on the courthouse grounds.

After spending more than an hour downtown, we headed for a tour of the Latham Hi-Tech Seed plant in Alexander. John Latham, the company’s president and third-generation co-owner, gave us an up close look at the processing side of harvest season.

Latham Hi-Tech Seeds

John advised that each truckload of beans is personally inspected by the company’s inspectors to ensure quality. During harvest season, the company will see up to 500,000 bushels of beans.

Latham Hi-Tech Seeds

If beans pass the quality inspection, they are processed and bagged for delivery.

Latham Hi-Tech Seeds was kind enough to host us for lunch during our visit.

For more information on Latham Hi-Tech Seeds, please visit

As we dined on some great Iowa pork tenderloin and homemade beans (with pumpkin squares for dessert), we received a lesson about agriculture in North Iowa classrooms by two ag educators. We learned about some of the lesson plans they use with children to help them understand farming and the importance of agriculture.

Ag in the Classroom

Our afternoon was spent on the farm of Roy and Jeanne Arends. We learned about field drainage (tiling). To cap our farm visit, we enjoyed a ride in a combine. Half of our crew stayed at the Arends’ and the other half went to a second farm.

Arends Farm

The combine ride was amazing. I’ve ridden tractors before. I even learned how to drive one as a kid. But, the combine ride was truly impressive. To sit in the cab and watch the beans get lifted from the ground and shoot into the back was educational. In addition, our combine was GPS-operated, which meant little to no actual driving was needed.

Arends Farm

Later that day, for dinner, we enjoyed a nice soup buffet at the Country Heritage Bed and Breakfast. Our group tried homemade beef and vegetable (my favorite), chicken and wild rice and potato soup. The salads and bread sticks were also good. Dessert consisted of a chocolate cake or pumpkin square. All was good. For more information on the B&B, please visit

Country Heritage B&B

Our Saturday evening was capped with a great community show at the Windsor Theatre. “An Evening Like it Used to be” featured a silent movie with music provide by the town orchestra and Vaudeville-style acts. It was a fun way to top off our day. For more information on the Windsor, please visit

Windsor Theatre

The second day of our visit started with a visit to the town’s rehab center. Owned and operated by ABCM, the rehab center strives to help patients return home when possible or live in the assisted living section of the center. Unfortunately, some people will have to go into skilled care facilities. Personally, visiting the center brought back memories of my dad living in skilled care after his stroke. I honesty had mixed feelings during the visit.


The layout of the facility impressed Lisa and me. They use warm inviting colors on the wall and carpets. The cafeteria operates based on the residents’ schedules. If someone sleeps in and wants a late breakfast, they can do that. The staff seemed very friendly, professional and supportive of patients and residents.

We enjoyed breakfast at the Leahy Center (named after Admiral Leahy). The homemade gigantic cinnamon rolls were something to write home about. The egg and hash brown casserole was quite tasty.

Leahy Center

The rehab center is one of 30 facilities ABCM operates throughout Iowa. The company is based in Hampton, and has about 3,000 employees statewide. For more information, please visit

Following our tour of the rehab center, we headed out for a day of additional North Iowa sightseeing with our friend Sara Broers of Mason City. Sara operates several blog sites, including Travels with Sara.

We first stopped to check out the sights of the Harriman Nielsen Historic Farm as it was being prepped for the annual fall festival.

Harriman Nielsen Farm

Our Franklin County tour took a side trip to Enchanted Acres near Sheffield. The pumpkin patch was started by Shannon Latham (of Latham Hi-Tech Seeds) a few years ago as a personal interest project. She hosted the grand opening in 2013.

Enchanted Acres

The pumpkin has a large variety of pumpkins, from your standard orange pumpkin to white pumpkins. Goats and chickens can also be seen while visiting the pumpkin patch.

Enchanted Acres

For more information on the pumpkin patch, please visit

We will highlight the sites we visited in more depth over the next few days. We hope you enjoy the stories. We also encourage you to check out stories from the other bloggers that were with us for this fun weekend:

Jeni Eats
Sawdust and Embryos
It’s Just Life

Disclaimer: Thank you to the Franklin County Farm Bureau and Franklin County Tourism for the complimentary hotel accommodations, theater tickets and meals. However, all opinions and views are ours.