Great Iowa Road Trip planned to revive small businesses and local economies

February 19, 2021

Graphic with a car driving down a road and the text "The Great Iowa Road Trip, April 30-May 1, Southern Iowa Editions,"and the Iowa State University Extension and Outreach wordmark.This spring, the public is invited to participate in the Great Iowa Road Trip, a weekend event planned to help revive Iowa’s small businesses and small towns. This special event, scheduled for April 30 and May 1, will be a coordinated mapped tour of open doors at businesses and attractions in southern Iowa.

Iowa State University Extension and Outreach has partnered with several community development organizations to organize the event, which is being coordinated by Diane Van Wyngarden, ISU Extension and Outreach tourism economic development specialist.

“This is an opportunity for people to help revive Iowa’s small businesses and towns, while discovering their new favorite places,” said Van Wyngarden. “We will provide a map to interesting stops, including small businesses, attractions, and hidden gems. Who knew that revitalizing Iowa’s economy could be so much fun?”

The Great Iowa Road Trip route includes the communities of Pella, Monroe, Prairie City, New Sharon, Oskaloosa, Otley, Knoxville, and rural Leighton. Businesses located within one mile of the route are invited to apply to participate. Local partners will review the applications and decide on participants based on whether or not appropriate pandemic-related safety measures are in place, and with the goal of providing an appropriate mix of retail, dining, lodging, and attractions.

The deadline for businesses to apply is March 15 and the application is available online (  There is no fee to apply. Businesses selected will be notified no later than March 22 and will be required to submit a signed contract and a $100 fee by March 26 to participate.

The event partnership includes the ISU Extension and Outreach offices in Jasper, Mahaska, and Marion Counties; the Knoxville Chamber of Commerce; the Mahaska Chamber and Development Group; Main Street Oskaloosa; Marion County Development; Visit Pella, and ISU Extension and Outreach Community and Economic Development. According to Van Wyngarden, the partner organizations are piloting the Great Iowa Road Trip to reconnect businesses and attractions that have reopened with customers who want to travel but are uncertain as to whether or not destinations are open.

For more information, visit the event page on Facebook ( or contact Diane Van Wyngarden at