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JEFFERSON, Iowa — When planning a weekend or short get-away some like to strike out across the country, not head for the big city, but instead to smaller places where you sometimes find things you don’t expect.

In the town of Jefferson, the Mahanay Bell Tower can take visitors up 120 feet. It is a four-octave carillon that wafts music over downtown Jefferson.

“This bell tower was a gift from Floyd and Dora Mahanay they left $350,000 to have a bell tower built on this location next to a Greene County Courthouse and the Lincoln Highway,” said Pat Richards, who is the Tower Coordinator, and leads tours of the tower.

From up high you can see surrounding communities, as well as some rooftop art on some of the buildings in the downtown area. Each summer the Jefferson Belltower Festival is the second weekend in June.

While in town you may want to check out the Jefferson Gardens, just to the east of the courthouse. There is also a new space called Arch Alley, north of the courthouse, where artist David Williamson of Ogden has iron sculpture pieces done in collaboration with the local community.

In the town of Manning there is the historic Hausbarn. It was brought over from Germany and re-assembled in Manning. This is an authentic barn where people live in part of the barn, and animals in another part. There is also a country church moved to the site for it’s historic significance.

Near downtown Manning is Trestle Park. This is an area designed with the assistance of Iowa State students to create a space. The giant letters I-O-W-A make a nice backdrop for photos. Displays include Iowa’s state flower, state bird, state rock, and state tree.

Just down the road is the town of Audubon, home of Albert the Bull. The giant bull statue was built in 1964 as a tribute to the area beef producers. It was also hoped the giant animal would draw some tourists to visit the town, and it has. Now Albert has his own line of souvenirs.

“Our biggest sellers are these Albert dolls, which are popular with kids, and adults too,” said Molly Armentrout, of the Audubon Chamber of Commerce. “We do have any fun Albert shirts that have him on the front and him on the back if you know what I mean.”

Albert is kind of the icon for the community with one shirt proclaiming he’s large and in charge. 

“We love Albert and we hope everyone does as well,” said Armentrout.

In Glidden on Highway 30 is the Dairy Mart. This long-time local drive-in is known for its swirl cones, especially the lemon ice cream.

For more on Jefferson click here.

To learn more about Manning click here.

For more on Albert the Bull, click here.

Information on Glidden Dairy Mart, click here.