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Grape expectations

OCHEYEDAN, Iowa -- It may be called Days of Olde, but Ocheyedan's annual town festival has something new in the works this year.

It's the inaugural year for the Home of the Mound Wine & Arts Festival, an event sparked by the success of a local business, Cat Tale Country Wines.

"Since we opened the winery, we've been going to several wine festivals, and we were looking for something new to stir up interest in Days of Olde, so we came up with this," explained Cat Tale owner Duane Tracy. "Wineries love to come to events like this if they have an open day, and it's a good opportunity for us to display our wares and make some sales, too."

Tracy has recruited five area wineries and one brewery to participate in the festival, which will also feature area artisans.

"The arts festival part doesn't cost anything, but if you want to sample wine, you will pay a fee," he explained. "If you're one of the first 400, you'll get a festival glass imprinted with the logo. IDs will also be checked, and you'll get an armband. If you don't have an armband and glass, you don't get wine."

Based on other such festivals in which he's participated, Tracy expects more than 30 varieties of wine available for sampling.

"If you find wines that you like, you can purchase them right there on site," he added.

Additionally, Cat Tale Wines is sponsoring, for a second year, an amateur wine-making contest.

"We've already been told that we have wines coming from Pierre (S.D.) and New Ulm," reported Tracy. "Any amateur wine-maker can bring wines down and register them. There's no fee. They'll be judged by a panel that was trained by someone certified by the French government.

Last year, the field of entries was small, but Tracy is hopeful there will be more this year and the competition will continue to grow in years to come. Such events can provide encouragement to the home wine-makers.

"We are going to award prizes for the first three places in whatever categories we get," he said. "I got started by going to the Clay County Fair, the wine competition there. I was getting blue and red ribbons, best of class, and started thinking that it might be good enough to possibly sell, and here we are today."

Days of Olde will begin with a couple of events today. A "Build a Birdfeeder" program will be offered for youths ages 8-12 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. today at the Willow Creek Nature Center on Iowa 9. Lunch will be provided. For more information, call (712) 758-3709.

The Great Plains Truck Pullers will be featured beginning at 7 p.m. today in the industrial park north of Ocheyedan.

Saturday's events begin with a 5k walk/run at 8 a.m. in the city park. The parade down Main Street is set to begin at 10 a.m.

Other Saturday events include: Home of the Mound Wine and Arts Festival, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Ocheyedan City Park; homemade pie and ice cream, following the parade, Senior Activity Center; antique tractor pull, 10:30 a.m., industrial park; Schwan's truckload sale, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., public school parking lot; co-ed ball tournament, noon, public school ballfield; Tracy House Museum open from 1 to 4 p.m., north Main Street; amateur wine competition, 5 p.m. (registration begins at 1 p.m.); Northwest Iowa Tractor Pullers and Central Plains Truck Pullers, industrial park; street dance, music by Uncle Fester, 8 p.m. to midnight, south side of the Corner Club.

Food stands will be located at all the pulls and the ball diamond.

Finishing out the celebration will be a bean bag tournament beginning at 2 p.m. Sunday in the city park. To preregister, phone (712) 461-1720.

Beth Rickers

Beth Rickers is the veteran in the newspaper staff with 25 years as the Daily Globe's Features Editor. Interests include cooking, traveling and beer tasting and making with her home-brewing husband, Bryan. She writes an Area Voices blog called Lagniappe, which is a Creole term that means "a little something extra." It can be found at  

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