Watson’s Grocery Fall Festival comes to State Center Main Street next week

STATE CENTER — Despite hot weather of late, the signs of fall are all around central Iowa, from crops readying for harvest to colors slowly creeping onto tree leaves — State Center is set to celebrate the seasonal change next week.

The Watson’s Grocery Store Museum Fall Festival will feature food and autumn activities 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Sept. 25, right after fall officially begins this weekend. The historic store, 106 W. Main St, was built in 1895 and remains a historic landmark to this day.

“I think people enjoy going back in time a little bit and just slowing things down because everybody’s so busy,” said State Center resident and event coordinator Julie Riley.

The old grocery store will be one focal point of activity that day. It will host a pumpkin decorating contest, which will include cash prizes.

“They will also be serving pie and ice cream,” Riley said of Watson’s.

There will be much going on outside the store, too. The Whimsical Wine Trailer will offer wine tasting, carriage rides will be available and the State Center Lions Club will serve pork BBQ, all along Main Street.

The carriage ride is a festival tradition, and Riley said there’s been a change this year.

“We’re going to have a new carriage ride this year from Plume Carriages out of Newton,” she said. “It’s going to be a wooden wagon, it holds about 20 people — just like an old-fashioned wagon with seats in it.”

Riley also said there will be some new vendors coming to town this year to serve baked goods.

There will be several kids activities as well, including bounce houses and face-painting.

“We’re going to have kids dressed up as little pioneer kids and passing out taffy,” Riley said. She also said there will be free popcorn available to festival-goers.

The Fall Festival is held annually by the State Center Historical Society and the State Center Development Promotions Committee. In 1989, the historical society made Watson’s Grocery into a museum, according to information from Silos and Smokestacks National Historic Area.

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Contact Adam Sodders at

(641) 753-6611 or asodders@timesrepublican.coim