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Iowa high point celebrates present, looks to future

Hawkeye Point board member Howard Johnson (right) portions out pancakes on the handmade rotating griddle as Larry Verdoorn flips during the “Fall Gathering” Saturday morning at Hawkeye Point in northwest Iowa. (Brian Korthals/Daily Globe)

SIBLEY, Iowa — As far as high points across the U.S. go, Hawkeye Point is far from reaching top altitude.

Come summer 2015, though, the Iowa landmark will be the place to be for folks interested in visiting similar national locales. It was announced Saturday, during the Old Fashioned Fall Gathering at Hawkeye Point, that the site will host the Higher Pointers National Convention in two years.

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“We’re really excited about the convention and we have done a lot of improvements over the years to Hawkeye Point,” said Mike Earll, a Hawkeye Point Committee member. “We repainted the corn crib, and the FFA kids made a walk-through museum that includes all donated antique farm equipment and is open 24/7.

“Our long-term goal is to eventually make this a welcome center by 2015 for the convention,” Earll added.

Saturday’s activities included hay rides, an apple cider press demonstration with apples donated by Ocheda Orchard, hand corn shelling, musical entertainment and a free pancake breakfast. Additionally, face painting, pumpkin painting and various games were available for kids.

Larry Pedley, a Hawkeye Point board member since the beginning in 2008, supplied the antique apple cider press said for Saturday’s event.

“This all has really been a labor of love,” Pedley said of the Hawkeye Point improvements. “Most items at the point have been donated, and the FFA kids put a lot of time and effort into Hawkeye Point.”

A new observation was also unveiled Saturday, and the recently renovated campground was shown off.

“We’re really proud of both the observation deck and the campground,” Earll said. “FFA members helped build the observation deck and assisted in writing to the conservation foundation for the grant. They also helped plant all of the donated trees in the campground.”

The next step for Hawkeye Point Committee will be focusing on the expansion of the welcome center and to add to the fall festivities for future years.

“We want to highlight the whole area and give a broader vision of what the site offers,” Third District Sen. David Johnson said. “We want to make Hawkeye Point a doorway into the state. It’s just a matter of ‘How do we get to that point?’”

FFA members visit the Capital annually to give presentations on Hawkeye Point and what they want to do to improve it.

“I think it helps give it recognition to the state,” S-O FFA President Devan Vander Veen said. “It’s always good to keep people updated on what renovations we have made to Hawkeye Point and what we’d like to do for the future.”

“Senator Johnson really opens a lot of doors for us to talk about Hawkeye Point,” Earll added. “The FFA kids do so much here, and when we go to the Capital, I think it’s great to show people that there are kids out there with our passions other than going out and partying. These kids really care.”

Hawkeye Point continues to highlight the whole state of Iowa, and Earll said he is consistently amazed to see how many people stop by.

“We just have a little sign on the road, so it’s so surprising to see how many people actually stop by,” he said. “ We’ve had people from all 50 states, as well as people from other countries.”

The next step for the Hawkeye Point Foundation will be gearing up for the 2015 convention.

“The short-term goal is to try and find financial assistance to host the convention, and we believe we can accomplish that,” Johnson said. 

Erin Trester
Erin Trester is the crime and city reporter for the Daily Globe. She's a native of Lewiston, MN, but moved to Buffalo, NY to attend college and obtained her bachelor's degree in Communications. She started at the Western New York Catholic Newspaper as a reporter in Buffalo, but in October 2013 she returned to her home state to start with the Daily Globe. Most of her spare time is taken up by her 13-year-old thoroughbred named Faith, but some of her other hobbies include reading, fishing and spending time with friends and family. 
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