The Franklin County Harvest Blogger Tour Continues: Wiggle Cars and Mealworms

Disclaimer: The Franklin County Harvest Bloggers Tour was sponsored by the The Franklin County Chamber of Commerce & Franklin County Farm Bureau who provided our lodging, meals and activities. All opinions and thoughts are totally my own.

I have already started my readers on the journey of the bloggers who participated in the Franklin County Harvest Bloggers Tour and this will be the second post in my series.  If you missed the first one you can click here to read all about our lodging for the weekend at Country Heritage Bed and Breakfast in Hampton. Now it is time to fill you in our some of our Friday night activities.

We were chauffeured around in style in the bus provided by ABCM Corporation by driver Larry Odem who provided a lot of commentary to the sometimes unruly bunch.  He took it all in stride and made sure we got to our destination on time.  Big shout out to Larry for his service to us over the entire weekend.

After check in we were taken to the Reeve Electric Association Plant  (now known as the REA Power Plant Museum)–the first farmer owned power plant in the United States. The funny thing was that the week prior to this trip, Jeni from Jeni Eats, and I had taken a little Farm tour and passed this place.  I had exclaimed how cool that was to see a power plant museum out in the middle of nowhere.  Obviously “someone” had not read the itinerary for the upcoming weekend very well because I was shocked to see that that was actually on our tour.  Power Plant Museum Collage

Our tour guide for the evening was Darwin Meyer—an amazing man with a lot of knowledge of the history of Franklin County.  He was happy to share all that he could about this piece of American history and my husband, Chris, was especially interested in this stop on the trip with his background in electrical engineering.  To this day I can spy a 765 KV power line simply because I attended an IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) function with him in college.  3 bundles of 4 is ingrained in my head and let me tell you—I can be a bit obnoxious and exuberant when I spy them.  Hard to imagine that I could be obnoxious, I know.

The power plant was an important step for the farmers in the 1930’s because in the early 1930’s only 10% of the farms in the United States used electricity for home and farm purposes.  The remaining 90% did it the hard and labor intensive way. Construction on the plant began in September 1937 and continued throughout the harsh Iowa winter until completion in March 1938.   To imagine what an undertaking this was at that time is mind boggling.  The plant went “on line” initially on March 23, 1938 and provided power to farm homes in six north central Iowa counties.  The concept is an interesting and foreign idea to me—I had no idea that this rural cooperation existed but it certainly made life a lot easier for the farmers who were able to be a part of it.  If you want to read more about this interesting place please click here to go to read more history from their website.REA Power Plant Collage

They had everything on display from windmills to big old motors to things that were used on the lines.  This place has a lot packed into it.  Add to that some pretty cool historical displays of farm related items, household goods from that era and all sorts of interesting corners to poke in.   We even found some colored eggs—must have been those green and yellow chickens that laid those, right?

REA 2CollageFrom the museum we headed to Beeds Lake State Park where we went to the picturesque spillway. Val of Corn, Beans, Pigs and Kids told us it is a favorite place to take pictures for any occasion. It had gotten pretty chilly with the Iowa wind whipping all around the place but we all trekked from the van to go take a few pictures. The kids enjoyed jumping around and climbing up and down the stairs as you can see below.

Beeds Lake CollageFrom there we traveled to Carlson Tree Farm in Hampton.  I had visited here the week before as part of the Franklin County Farm Crawl.  This lovely place is owned by Dennis and Cathy Carlson and not only does it boast a pretty impressive tree farm it also has a fabulous lodge which they open up to groups to  use for various events like ours.  They were the perfect hosts  and we were able to meet with a lot of local folks who came out to welcome us to Franklin County.  It was really wonderful to meet so many who are so excited about what their county has to offer and after chowing down on some fabulous appetizers and taste testing some equally wonderful wine provided by TownsEnd Winery of Hansel we felt like we had had a full day in just a few hours.  What hospitality!  Seriously—these people know how to put out the welcome mat.

Carlson CollageThe food was wonderful —so many great things and of course I didn’t document it well enough but this gives you an idea.

FoodCollageIt wasn’t just about the food either.  There was a lot of fun involved! Enter the wiggle cars…….

wiggle cars CollageDid I mention the meal worms?  As part of the entire experience Dennis Carlson felt we needed to taste mealworms.  Now I don’t think that they are Franklin County natives and I am not quite sure how they fit into the whole Franklin County Harvest thing (maybe because they were harvested someplace???) but he felt that we all needed to taste them.  There were stickers involved and that was the incentive.  I am an overachiever at times and I had to have that sticker.  So we “toasted” each other with our mealworms and down they went. They really did not taste like much of anything to me—-just a little crunch and it was gone.

worms CollageWe all had such a great night and it was so great to be able to meet so many genuine people who truly love where they live and who are passionate about helping others understand what they do and why they love what they do so much.  Their enthusiasm for farming and for agriculture is contagious and I left the evening feeling excited about the entire weekend.

Other bloggers that participated in this weekend that you definitely need to check out include:

Jeni Eats


Sawdust and Embryos

The Walking Tourists 




  1. Holy Moly–you ate the meal worm!!!! Yikes. I tend to be an over-achiever, too, but don’t know that I would do that. Talk about culinary daring!!!!! Seriously, however, your blog tour looks like a ton of fun–worm consumption and all.

    Hugs from Ecuador,

  2. Your photo of the meat and cheese tray is making me hungry.

  3. I’d love to go to that museum if I ever get back in the area.Both my mom and my dad remembered life before the REA in south-central Iowa. The coming of electricity was a huge deal. Mom never really got over the magic of a light bulb. She’d laugh at everyone wanting to burn candles and lanterns. As she put it, “Reading by flashlight is one thing. Trying to do homework by kerosense lantern is quite another.”

    The co-ops were important in Texas, too. In 1935, only 2% of farms were electrified. In 1965, only 2% weren’t.

    • I had absolutely NO idea that they existed! It makes sense and what a great thing to have folks all working together to make the best scenario happen. Isn’t it just amazing how quickly things change now? It seems as if we move at warp speed on some innovations.

  4. interesting history tid bit on the power plant. and now I know what a wiggle car is. Don’t think I will put meal worm on my appetizer list though. Too much of a meat, potatoes and pe guy.

    • The power plant was very interesting and I had no idea the history of power plants in Iowa at all and their connection to farming. The meal worms would not be on my steady diet list either!

  5. Ewww meal worms. I don’t think my brain would let me try them. The wiggle cars look like a riot!

    • The wiggle cars were crazy fun. They take a while to figure out how to “wiggle” em but then once I got the hang of it they were tons of fun! Meal worms—no big deal. It is the brain that makes you think gross. They didn’t taste like much at all.

  6. What fun! Love the photo you got of Klayton jumping around at Beed’s Lake!

  7. Um, no meal worms.. seen too many of them squirming around in the styrofoam cup that we get at the bird store. All the pictures are fun Beth Ann.. they really help tell the story. The wiggle cars look like a blast, now I would try one of them!!!

    • Chris just shook his head at me several times during this weekend and the wiggle cars was definitely one time when he was shaking his head! They were a lot of fun even if I felt like a giant on them. I have put meal worms out for the birds myself….

  8. Meal Worms? You should have been given more than a sticker. I’m an adventurous eater but…how many people walked away with stickers? Wiggle cars look like FUN and the food very yummy. The power plant tower looked like it was very enlightening. (Sorry for being such a laggard)

    • He ran out of stickers and Larry still tried one without getting a sticker so yea—it was the thing to do that night. I think the wine might have had a little to do with it—-Larry used it as a worm chaser. 🙂 The wiggle cars were fabulous.

  9. I’d love to try the “wiggle car”, as that looks like fun, but think I’ll leave all the “mealworms” to you!

  10. LOL! Interesting … but I would have totally skipped the mealworm!

  11. what an interesting weekend they put together for you. Good for you eating that worm! I don’t know that I could have done that…. as long as they aren’t wiggling, I think I’d be okay.

  12. Helen Brown says:

    Glad you had a good time.

  13. The food looks delicious! You wouldn’t get me eating a meal worm!


  1. […] in Franklin County?  If you want to read a couple posts about it you can click here and here and here and here to catch up on what the fun included.  But wait–there’s more!  Of course […]

  2. […] remember me writing about visiting the Carlson Christmas Tree Farm back when I was posting about our Franklin County Harvest Bloggers Tour in the fall this year.  It was one place that we stopped on our first night to enjoy some fabulous […]

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