101 Trip Ideas: From Farm to Fork

The Red Rock Area is situated among the rolling hills, picturesque prairies and mighty rivers of America’s heartland. What better setting to experience all that agriculture has to offer — farm fresh foods, beautiful scenery, homemade crafts, Midwestern hospitality, prairie antiques, innovative farm machinery and the history of the pioneers who settled this land. Come home to the farm to experience a kinder and gentler way of life.

Wine-In Movies


Every Saturday night from June through September go to the Grape Escape Winery in rural Pleasantville for Wine-In Movies in the vineyard.  You can enjoy outdoor movies on an 11 foot by 20 foot screen with surround sound, full 1080p high definition picture and fire pits. 

Round Up the Wagons


Checkerboard Restaurant, downtown Pleasantville, is an eye catching country atmosphere for a family gathering.  With plenty of seating and a flavorful menu, you will never been disappointed.  Do not walk out the door without ordering the shoe-string onion rings!  When you are ready to pay, be sure to check out the old fashioned candy by the register for one last satisfying treat!  

Beer Nirvana


Located just two blocks west of the downtown square in Knoxville on Main Street, you will find beer nirvana.  Peace Tree Brewing Company is dedicated to brewing handcrafted, full-flavored beers with a great attention to quality.  Their Blonde Fatale received a GOLD MEDAL at the 2014 World Beer Cup in the Belgian-Style Blonde Ale or Pale Ale category.  Check out their web site to find when live entertainment will be playing.



Pella is a Dutch town, but you are missing out if you don't stop at Kaldera Restaurant and Lounge on Washington Street for some Greek food and of course the flaming saganaki (cheese melted in a small frying pan until it is bubbling, then flambeed with shouts of opa! and the flames are then extinguished with a squeeze of lemon).  If you are just wanting to stop with friends for a drink, try the Greek style wine.  

Pig Out!


On the first Saturday of June, plan to arrive in downtown Pleasantville around 10 a.m. to enjoy the bake sale, vendors and vintage cars on display.  The Pleasantville Grocery store has all kinds of items if you get thirsty and it is fun to stoll around to experience this small town grocery store atmosphere.  Once the BBQ competition starts, enjoy samples and vote on your favorites.  Make sure to come hungry!  The best part is the entire event benefits the local recreation programs for kids.

Farm Fever


Do you farm or have someone you know traveling with you who does?  Plan a lunch at Int' Veld Meat Market on the east side of the Pella square where the balcony area is decorated in farm antiques and memorabilia.  ...And did we mention they make great bologna and summer sausage that you can order in sandwiches.  The shop is also a meat market, so you can purchase some great items to take home with you also.

After 9 p.m.


Looking for a great place to gather with friends after a ball game or movie?  Applebee's in Pella has great half price appetizer specials after 9 p.m.

Date Night


Looking for somewhere to go on a first date or perhaps date night?  The Peace Tree Brewing Company in Knoxville was voted Best Place to go on a Date.  Test it out for yourself.  Check their website for special events and live music nights.

Tenderloin Heaven


Hand Breaded Tenderloins.  Located on the south side of the square in Melcher-Dallas, Northcote Meats, Inc. is known around the region for their hand bread tenderloins.  A tenderloin is a pork tenderloin which is pounded flat, breaded and deep fried.  It is similar to the German schnitzel.  Northcote started in 1972 and serves wholesale meats to hotels, restaurants and other entities in the region.  Around Marion County, you can find their products at D & S Grocery (Melcher-Dallas), Hometown Meats & Deli (Knoxville), Hy-Vee (Knoxville & Pella), Int’Veld Meat Market (Pella), Katy-Did’s General Store (Bussey), Pleasantville Grocery (Pleasantville), Ulrich’s Meat Market (Pella), Dairy Shoppe (Pleasantville), Downtown Diner (Knoxville), Mr. C’s Steakhouse (Knoxville) and The Fox Pub & Grille (Knoxville).    

Wisconsin isn't the only place for cheese


Cheeses.  Around the Red Rock Area, you will find three distinctive cheese companies.  In rural Knoxville, is Reichert’s Dairy Air, www.reichertdairyair.com, which produces farmstead cheese from LaMancha dairy goat’s milk.  The cheese is made in small batches, by hand, on a daily basis to ensure freshness and quality. At the 2013 American Dairy Goat Cheese Competition honors were given as follows:  1st place-Chevre, 1st place & reserve best of show-Bobiola di mia Nonna, 3rd place-Basil Feta and 1st place & Best of Show-Robiolina di Reba.  Reichert Dairy Air cheeses can be purchased at either the Next Chapter or Coffee Connection both located in Knoxville’s downtown.  Just 10 miles east of Pella is located Frisian Farms, www.frisianfarms.com, which produces farmstead cow’s milk Gouda cheese in the Dutch style.  Their products can be purchased at Int’ Velds Meat Market in Pella.  Maytag Dairy Farms, www.maytagdairyfarms.com, is famous for their blue cheese which they have been making since 1941.  Their operations are located in Newton, but the famous blue cheese can be purchased in most of the grocery stores and meat markets within the Red Rock Area.    

Historic Lovers


Historic Lovers:  Do you have roots in the Red Rock Area?  Area city libraries and the Marion County Recorder’s office on the 2nd floor of the Marion County Courthouse are good places to start your genealogy search. Spend some time traveling the rural roads to trace historical landmarks for old roads, schools, churches, towns and other points of interest.  Pick up the brochure completed by the Marion County History Buffs at one of the local visitors’ centers or email ruralhistorybuffs@yahoo.com to get a map of the landmark locations.  There are several markers along the “Crooked Road” which runs between Knoxville and Melcher-Dallas. 

A museum not to miss on your visit is the Marion County Historical Village & Museum  near Marion County Park on the west side of Knoxville.  Contact the museum ahead of your visit to check their hours.  While at the Marion County Historical Village & Museum be sure to drive into Marion County Park and visit the 1891 Marysville Covered Bridge.  This is a great photo opportunity for your Christmas card.  For your evening meal, plan to visit Checkerboard Restaurant  in Pleasantville.  The food is great and the entire restaurant is decorated with antiques.  Book a night at one of the area B & B’s to enjoy a cozy home feel and historic charm.   

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