At the end of May 2008, I accomplished one of my life goals to visit an Iowa landmark, the What Cheer Opera House, for the first time. What Cheer, Iowa is now known for its opera house and the major antique sale they host on their fairgrounds 3 times a year. While there are lots restored opera houses now, What Cheer was one of the first communities to restore their opera house and still keep it up as a theater. When it was first opened it was a hot ticket and national acts such as Porter Wagoner, Lawrence Welk, and the Glen Miller band played there on a regular basis. Now it’s mostly local talent. The first few rows are wood and the back rows are padded. So bear that in mind if you’re picking a seat. It’s really a nice example of a classic opera house. One of the Iowa Heritage episodes put out by Iowa Public Television back in the 1970s was on Main Street and among other things showed a family coming to this opera house soon after it was restored in about 1973. It’s still worth a visit.
I couldn’t find a current schedule or website, but here is the contact information:
What Cheer Opera House
201 Barnes Street
What Cheer, Iowa 50268
Call 641-634-2800 for more information.
You can watch a short video of the upstairs which I didn’t get to visit on my trip.
The other thing they are really the most famous for is their flea market which is held three times a year, the first weekends of May, August, and October. It takes over the entire fairgrounds. I really enjoy their antique show/flea market. I try to get there once a year. I’ve gotten several things there I really liked including a Missouri Extension Service pamphlet that I think Laura Ingalls Wilder used to move the spring. All the steps she describes in her article are there. Find out all about it here:
UPDATE: I updated this as part of my review of my top 10 posts of all time, but I did the edits in the body of the piece. Including adding links to the Iowa Heritage video and a YouTube video of the ballroom upstairs. I also updated the already existing links and tracked down the contact information for the What Cheer Opera House.
Sarah S. Uthoff is main force behind Trundlebed Tales fighting to bring the History, Mystery, Magic and Imagination of Laura Ingalls Wilder and other greats of children’s literature and history to life for a new generation.Attend one of her programs, schedule one yourself, watch her videos, listen to her podcast, and find her on Facebook, Twitter, Google+,LinkedIn, and Academia.edu. She is currently acting President of the Laura Ingalls Wilder Legacy and Research Association. Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.