Lacey Keosauqua State Park

Lacey Keosauqua State Park

My favorite season of the year is autumn.  I have several beautiful fall foliage scenes displayed on my Florida desk right now. Last weekend I filled my car up with mums after a shopping adventure at a local garden center. But it’s not quite the same as being in the Midwest this month. About a half-hour drive from the Missouri family farm, you enter the Villages of Van Buren. In this southeastern area of Iowa, you step back in time in twelve unique communities:  Bentonsport, Birmingham, Bonaparte, Cantril, Douds, Farmington, Iowaville-Selma, Keosauqua, Milton, Mt. Sterling, Pittsburg and Stockport. Each village is more charming than the next, and the fall scenes are spectacular.

The annual Scenic Drive Festival is October 10 and 11. Each of the little villages has a full weekend of varied entertainment including trash and treasure sales, pancake breakfasts, arts and crafts, antiques, maid-rite lunches, black kettle ham and beans lunches and other activities from the 1800s.

From 1944-46, my mother taught high school in one of the Van Buren villages, Keosauqua. She was the Senior Advisor, and the prom was held at a historic stone building in Lacey Keosauqua State Park. The above photo reflects the winding drive through this beautiful park that we have visited. In March, my mother enjoyed showing the family around Keosauqua. The home where she rented a room is still there and in great shape. The old brick high school is also in operation. In fact two of her students attended her 90th birthday party in 2008. Keosauqua was a very special place for my mother.

This summer I frequently took a break from cleaning out my mother’s home after she passed away by escaping to Van Buren County. I ate lunch at Bonaparte’s Retreat several times. The handmade breaded tenderloins are the best. This restaurant is a precursor to today’s Cracker Barrel. Hand painted rose plates, (mother’s favorite flower), jumped out at me at an antique shop in Bentonsport. Of course, the plates are now in my home! The coconut meringue (the real stuff) pie in Farmington is worth a stop!  I am so intrigued with the whole area. Although I am not at the Scenic Drive Festival this year, I am there in thought and can almost taste the maid-rites!

For further information, visit

Watch for a special blog posting on Tuesday, October 13!

Have you ever been to the Villages of Van Buren? If so, which one is your favorite and why?

Bountiful Blessings!