WASHINGTON — There were no seats left at the Washington Public Library Tuesday afternoon as people trickled in to hear Dan Kaercher speak about Iowa’s Hidden Treasures.
Kaercher, born in upstate New York came to the Omaha/Council Bluffs area when he was young. He said after graduating from the University of Nebraska with a journalism degree, he applied for a job at Meredith Corporation in Des Moines.
He said the initial plan was to stay a few years then move on, but living in the area for more than 45 years, he and his wife have no plans to leave. He said he held a bevy of writing jobs and in 1986 became Editor-in-chief of the newly minted magazine Midwest Living and has been a host on Iowa Public Television (IPTV).
On Tuesday, Nov. 5, Kaercher dropped by the Washington Public Library to present his program, Iowa’s Hidden Treasures, brought in part by Humanities Iowa. During the presentation he showed clips of his work on IPTV and spoke about some of his favorite places to visit.
In the northeast corner of the state, Kaercher highlighted Yellow River State Forest. According to the video clip, the 8,500 acre forest is the smallest of four in Iowa. It has 25 miles of marked trails and a trout stream six miles long that is stocked from April to October. On the western side of the state is Loess Hills, famous for the Loess Hills National Scenic Byway that stretches 200 miles north and south and more than 15 miles wide in some places, he said.
Although he enjoys nature and wildlife, Kaercher said his favorite thing to explore in Iowa is the food.
“I’m not a foodie or a gourmet by an means but I do like to eat,” he said.
Although Iowa is known for things like sweet corn and tenderloins, Kaercher said the Maytag Dairy Farm in Newton and Jaarsma Bakery in Pella are among his favorite stops. Later Tuesday evening, the public was invited to a dinner at Cafe Dodicci where recipes from his cookbook were produced and paired with Iowa wines.
He said his whole mission with presenting the program and pairing it with a meal is to give people ideas for staycations or day trips they can take within Iowa to explore the beauty and food options of the state.