Traveling has slowed down a lot now as the Iowa weather gets more uncertain, but 2013 was a good year for the Traer Salt and Pepper Shaker Gallery. Placing two signs on Highway 63 to advertise the Gallery brought some additional curious visitors, with those signs purchased in part by a grant through Great Places of Iowa.
Visitors from seven countries, Switzerland, Japan, Singapore, Mexico, Germany, Russia and the United Arab Emirates, spent time in the Gallery this year.
Guest book registrations included visitors from Michigan, Illinois, Florida, Oregon, Texas, Arizona, Kansas, Georgia, South Dakota, Wisconsin, California, Missouri, Tennessee, Washington, Virginia, New Jersey, New York, Minnesota, Colorado, North Carolina, Maryland, Ohio, Massachusetts, West Virginia, Nebraska, Arkansas and Pennsylvania, and from Washington, D.C.
A group of guides from the Iowa State Capitol visited the Traer Shaker Gallery in November. Each November, the guide group spends a day visiting various points of interest in Iowa, so they can answer questions posed to them by some of the 65,000 annual visitors to the capitol. Ruth Rasmussen is shown with the guides.
There were several groups which visited during the year, traveling by bus, large vans, and of course, cars. Retirement homes and nursing homes from several Iowa towns took advantage of the accessibility offered at the Gallery, to bring their residents to view the tremendous collection of shakers on display in Traer.
It is gratifying to the Gallery volunteers that many visitors are returning for a third and fourth visit, to bring relatives and friends to visit. One lady from Cedar Rapids came in the door and said, "This is my 84th visit here!" She then laughed, and said really, it was her fourth visit, bringing new visitors along with her each time.
There was a "first" for the Gallery in July, when newlyweds Drew and Rachel (Dengler) McLaughlin asked whether their guests could visit the Gallery in the extra time between the wedding service and the reception. And what a well dressed bunch of folks! Fun!
There was a wonderful group of antique cars parked in front of the Gallery one day, drawing attention from other people, while their Car Club owners spent some time in the Gallery. That was fun too. A book club from Cedar Rapids visited, as did many Red Hat groups, social clubs and some church social groups, and also a Girl Scout Troop from Hudson.
Iowa's Secretary of Agriculture, Bill Northey and his wife Cindy of Spirit Lake, Iowa, spent a fun hour in the Gallery on a July afternoon, when they were in town for the Grand Opening of the Tama Jim Wilson display at the Traer Historical Museum. The Northeys took many, many photos, explaining that their daughter is a shaker collector also.
A great highlight for us in October was the second visit from the Heartland Shaker Club. This Club has members from several states, and they previously held a meeting in Traer in 2011, the year the Gallery opened. The Club held their 2013 fall meeting at the Memorial Building, had a local business cater the lunch, and visited the Gallery. Several spent one or two nights at the local Golden Door Motel, and a group ate dinner together locally on Saturday night before going back to their homes on Sunday. It was so exciting to have these people visit. We learn so much from them, as most of them are avid collectors also. (The Traer Gallery is now a member of the Heartland Shaker Club.)
Heartland Club member Jean Rowe of Michigan, a nationally recognized collector and contributor to several books on shakers, presented the Traer Gallery with two of the National Salt and Pepper Shakers Club convention collectors' sets, which are limited production sets. The Gallery is proud to display these special sets from the 1999 and the 2000 year national conventions.
(During the summer of 2014, the Heartland Club will be hosting the National Salt and Pepper Shakers Club annual convention in Omaha, Neb. The Traer Gallery has been invited to put brochures into all the national registrants' "goodie" bags, and to do some other promoting of our location in advance preparations for this national convention. Exciting!)
Our latest man and wife who drove from Wisconsin, had heard about the Gallery from the husband's barber, who had visited here, and who knew the couple collected shakers. They visited Traer a week later. They own over 12,000 pairs of shakers, and were thrilled to see the Traer collection.
Another group to tour the Gallery was the State Capitol Tour Guides, who spend Veterans Day each year seeing sites in Iowa about which they can tell visitors. They said they have 65,000 visitors a year to the state capitol! They had toured in Marshalltown, and visited Matchstick Marvels in Gladbrook before ending their day with a visit to the Traer Gallery.
The Traer Shaker Gallery works with the other members of the Tama County Convention and Visitors Bureau to promote travel to and within Tama County, and that group produces the Tama County Visitors Guides which are made available to the state's Welcome Centers. The County group also has just produced its second annual Tama County Calendar, with photos of Tama County places and events, and information about 2014 events. Those are available for purchase at several locations in the county. That calendar was made possible, in part, by a grant from the Tama County Community Foundation.
Ellen Young of the Traer Gallery and Joann Ruopp of Matchstick Marvels Tourist Center in Gladbrook, recently staffed a booth at the annual Travel Club Marketplace in Pella, to visit with tour planners about things to see and do in Tama County.
The Traer Gallery is also a member of Central Iowa Tourism Region (CITR), and Young serves on the Education Committee of that organization, and is a district leader.
Young also was one of the 27 tourism professionals in Iowa who served as the new Iowa Tourism grant selection committee this year, with those grant recipients named at the Iowa Tourism Conference in October.
Except for Holiday Happenings, the Gallery is officially "closed" for the winter months of December, January and February. You will see the "Open" flag out, however, many of those days, as workers will be in the basement processing more shakers sets for display, and will be pleased to show any visitors the collection. We will also accommodate anyone who calls and makes an appointment to visit. Also, if you have company, or just decide you wish to see the collection yourself, please call 319-231-7654 to arrange a time to do that.