Winterfest in Amana Colonies

Eve Sherrill York By Eve Sherrill York, 1st Mar 2015 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Travel>North America>United States>Iowa

This article tells about an area in Iowa called the Amana Colonies. The history of these people and why they moved to this part of Iowa.


Twenty miles southwest of Cedar Rapids and 17 miles west of Iowa City Amana is a 26,000 acre main tourist attraction in east-central Iowa. The Amana Colonies are comprised of seven villages which are settlements of German Pietists. They call themselves the Community of True Inspiration or the Ebenezer Society. They first settled in what is now West Seneca, New York but in order to be more in tune with their beliefs they moved west near Iowa City in 1855. Until the mid 1930's they lived a total communal life. They were going to call the new colonies Bieibetreu which in German means "remain faithful" but this was too hard for the residents to pronounce so they agreed on Amana which had a similar Biblical meaning.

History of the People

Originally citizens ate together outdoors in groups of up to forty-five. Meals were hosted by communal kitchens, each with their own garden. Prayers were said before and after each meal with men setting at one table and the women and children at another. It was not a social affair and conversation was not incouraged. They were up at dawn with children in school 6 days a week. Women worked in 50 communal kitchens preparing daily meals and working in the smokehouses, ice house, bakeries, dairies, orchards, vineyards and gardens. Men worked in the woodworking shops, dairies, woolen mills and such with all jobs being assigned by the village council of brethren. There were no wages, they all worked for the communal good. This all changed in 1932 when the communal way of life was seen as a barrier to achieving individual goals. A corporation was formed in 1932 which is heir to the land and economic assets of the communal Amana. The area still reflects the agricultural economic heritage to this day. There are over 450 communal-era buildings still standing in the seven colonies. Since June,23, 1965 Amana has been known as a National Historic Landmark.

They imported very little from the outside world and enjoyed this independence utilizing farming occupations and specialized handcrafts that mirrored their lives in their homeland of Germany. Known today for its craft shops, restaurants, wine shops and a brewery called Millstream it has become a major tourist attraction.


Each winter in Iowa there are several Winterfest celebrations throughout the state. The most well known is in the Amana Colonies. On January 24th this celebration of the experience of winter includes such events as the winter wreath toss, best beard competition, snowshoeing, log sawing, ham throwing, scavenger hunt , wine walk, storytelling, schnitzel-sampling, ice sculptures, Eisbahn ice rink, open fire chili, sledding, eagle watch, Hammerschlagen and the 5K Freezer Run/Walk. There are demonstrations of ice harvesting, candy making and quilting as well as kids activities from chocolate dipping to making your own snow globes. Also there are tours of the Amana Furniture Shop and cooking on the communal hearth.

More About Traveling To This Area

Depending on the way you wish to travel there are many different places to stay in the seven colonies. There is the Amana Colonies Golf Course with ajacent condominiums, also bed and breakfasts, hotels and inns, a campgrounds and RV park all in the seven colonies which are made up of Main Amana, High Amana, Middle Amana, East Amana, West Amana, South Amana and Homestead.

Fees will begin being taken on January 20th. The fee is $20 if paid by January 20th and after that the fee is $25. Checks are payable to Amana Colonies Trails and can be send to Amana Colonies Trails, PO Box 42 Amana, IA 52203. All Proceeds will benefit the Amana Kolonieweg Recreation Trail. To check calendars and upcoming events go or phone 319-622-3567.

Visit the Amana Colonies Convention and Visitors Bureau at 622 46th Avenue in Amana or call 319-622-7622. Just a 1/2 mile from the village of Amana is Amana Colonies RV Park and Event Center. It is a 60-acre campground with full services with full and partial hook-ups in a scenic, peaceful area to camp. This camp ground is located at 3890 C Street and can be reached by phone at 319-622-7630. Or call toll free 800-471-7616.

For a completely different way of life visit Amana colonies.


Amana Colonies, Winterfest

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author avatar Eve Sherrill York
I am an award winning author and have enjoyed writing online for about a dozen years now. I like to write about what interests me and that list is long.

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author avatar Sivaramakrishnan A
1st Mar 2015 (#)

Interesting way of life but given way to modernity, thanks for this share - siva

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author avatar Eve Sherrill York
2nd Mar 2015 (#)

Thank you.

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author avatar Carol Roach
1st Mar 2015 (#)

An interesting community

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author avatar Eve Sherrill York
2nd Mar 2015 (#)

I thought it was.

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