We’ve officially entered the dog days of summer. As a kid, I used to wonder what that term meant. I always thought it had something to do with youngsters being lazy because they’d become bored. You know that spell in between playing ball and school starting where we just… survived.
Turns out, it’s called the dog days because of the dog star, Sirius, and its position in the sky. Occurring at the end of July each year, it describes a period that could bring fever or catastrophe.
It’s funny when you realize how quickly time seems to pass. One minute, you’re celebrating the last day of the school year. Making plans for summertime fun in the sun, sleeping late every day, and spending quality time with family and friends.
The next thing you know, you’ve blinked, and all the commercials are about school supplies.
Doesn’t seem possible, does it?
Well, don’t throw in the towel quite yet, my friends. There are still a few weeks left to bask in the glow of summer fun. Especially in North Iowa. We can still enjoy our freedom, even though the dog days of summer are upon us. This time of intense heat during late July usually indicates the summer slowdown of activities.
Except, that’s not how we do things in North Iowa. Here, we pack in all the fun we can possibly have, filling our tank with those sweet summertime memories to last us through the winter. We don’t pack up the summer season until that school bell rings.
So, what’s there to do?
This time of year, it is the perfect opportunity to hit up one (or all) of the fantastic Farmer’s Markets in the region. Filled with garden delights and homemade goodies galore, you’re guaranteed to find something delicious at these spectacular events. And they aren’t just about buying produce anymore. These days, homestead’s have a variety of meats, cheeses, soaps, honey, handmade goods, and so much more.
In the larger communities, they even have live music and food trucks on site.
You can find an extensive list of Farmer’s Market Events in North Iowa at www.healthyharvestni.com.
Just the other day I saw the sweet corn trucks parked along the highway. Now, only in the great state of Iowa is this cause for celebration. Harrington and Johann’s fill their trucks each morning with that sweet golden treat. It’s fresh. It’s delicious. And I don’t know how, but it just tastes like summer in Iowa.
In my opinion, after feasting on a sweet corn meal, there’s nothing better than a scrumptious treat! Thankfully, North Iowa packs of punch of deliciousness when it comes to ice cream and all the goodies. Mason City has your chain favorites like Orange Leaf and Dairy Queen, but there are a few hidden gems dotted throughout the city as well. Birdsall’s is back and better than ever after being on hiatus for a few years. They are joined by the recent opening of The Olde Creamery, which also has a location in Garner.
On the northern edge of the region, you’ve got Scoopy Doo’s in Forest City, and Stan’s Drive-In over in Osage to satisfy your sweet tooth. Or you can head south to Rae’s Lighthouse in Rockwell where their motto is “Ice cream solves everything.” And who can forget The Viking in Ventura? They give you enough ice cream in every order for a small army!
South Shore Drive in Clear Lake is home to the most unique ice cream stop. The South Shore Sweet Spot is shaped like an ice cream cone – you can’t miss it! Close to downtown, Holy Apples Orchard and Ice Cream Shop is in an old church and has the most unique flavors. And Charlie’s Soda Fountain opened in the old Thrifty White building, bringing old-school charm and whole slew of sweetness back to life on Main Avenue in Clear Lake.
The North Iowa Events Center will host the North Iowa Fair August 4th through the 8th in Mason City. They have some amazing entertainment planned for families which is all FREE to the public! Inflatables, Gypsy Rattlecan, Cowboy Mounted Shooting, Pork Tornadoes and so much more.
Stop out to see the various 4-H displays and take a lap through the livestock buildings. Agriculture is a prime component of the economy in North Iowa, and the North Iowa Fair is a time to celebrate it.
Clear Lake and Mason City keep that summer spirit alive throughout August with their downtown events. Thursdays on Main runs through August 18th along Main Ave in Clear Lake. This event is filled with a large vendor market, live music, special entertainment, and caps off with a movie under the stars in City Park.
The Friday Night Summer Plaza Series in Mason City is utilizing the newly renovated pavilion to host their event, which runs through August 26th. Guests are encouraged to bring lawn chairs and enjoy live, local music in the beauty of downtown Mason City.
Speaking of live music, the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake has their annual summer concert series, Surf Sounds going for another three weeks in August! This event is free to the public and they accept donations to the Music Enrichment Center in lieu of admission.
Of course, with the warm temperatures lingering around for our final days of summer, it seems like a good time to squeeze in all those outdoor activities before it turns colder. Ride the bike trails, go for a swim at one of the many amazing aquatic centers, spend a day floating on the lake or have a picnic in one of the amazing parks across the region.
Now is the time to do all the things and have all the fun. Before we know it, we’ll be packing those backpacks with pencils and notebooks. It will be time to set out clothes for the first day of school and get our new pair of sneakers broken in.
We’ll go back to schedules and plans, letting the busy season of school activities consume our lives again.
So, soak it all in now. Get out and explore North Iowa. Visit a new restaurant, spend an afternoon shopping in a nearby town. Fill your tank with all the sunshine and goodness you can to get you through the frigid winter.