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Shaker Gallery featured on Iowa Scenic Byway Audio Tour

October 17, 2018
CJ Eilers - Editor ( , Traer Star-Clipper

Visitors to the Traer Salt and Pepper Shaker Gallery will soon have another educational oppurtunity through the Iowa Scenic Byway Audio Tour, a two-minute recording available at 40 locations across the Iowa Valley area that now includes the Shaker Gallery.

Originating in the Amana Colonies in 2011, the audio tour started out with a low profile as it continued to add stops in nearby Belle Plaine next. In recent year, four partners-Amana Heritage Museum, Iowa County Historical Society, Belle Plaine Community Development, Tama Tourism-joined together to relaunce a "bigger, better tour that could be branded for Iowa Valley Scenic Byway, representing the very best of the area" according to Jessica Rilling, the Executive Director of Iowa Valley RC&D.

"It was important to the partners that the 40 featured sites along the byway route were unique," Rilling said. "The Shaker Gallery made the short list right away because of it's great local story and its truly phenomenal collection. And, attendance records kept by the museum prove that the reach of interest is far - people consider it a true "destination" location and come from very far away."

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Rilling attended Tama County Tourism meetings over the past several years and came to know Ellen Young, who advocated for the gallery as she gives tours for their immense collection. She attended a Shaker Gallery meeting and proposed the idea of the gallery being added to the audio tour.

"We felt this was a great idea it will bring visitors to Traer," Young said. "We wanted to emphasize the Shaker gallery because that's what we have to draw tourists. "They'll see one of these signs in a community and stop to see for themselves. Then, they might want to see what else is in Tama County."

According to Rilling, audio tour required lots of in person interviews, phone calls, research online and with locally kept records to create them. She states the hardest part was "trying to say as much as possible in under two minutes," since the best practice is to have the recordings be on the shorter side. The tour has just launched in several areas, but already the word has been put out with local magazines and brochures at tourism stops.

"I think there are several goals with this audio tour," Rilling said. "First: awareness and celebration of the Iowa Valley Scenic Byway. Second: awareness and increased engagement at the 40 sites as well as nearby businesses and restaurants, increasing a visitors time and money spent in this area. Third: an energized collaborative spirit that continues with these partners and others. The byway offers us this opportunity to do more powerful collective projects and promotion."

The Shaker Gallery will have a sign posted outside with a number to call for the audio tour. According to Young, the audio will mainly concentrate on the Shaker Gallery, but also mention the Winding Stairs and Historical Museum. Young is currently working on getting a post to set the sign up and has received enough grants to pay for the sign and installation.



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