Iowa hosts biggest barn tour in the United States; Rural Waukon barn part of Iowa Barn Foundation All-State Tour September 16-17

Rural Waukon barn on All-State Barn Tour next month ... The rural Waukon barn pictured above will be part of the Iowa Barn Foundation All-State Barn Tour scheduled for September 16-17 this year. The barn, referred to as Toad Hall in the Iowa Barn Foundation promotional material, is located at 919 East Main Street, just east of Waukon. Submitted photo.

Those who are looking for a great multi-generation family adventure this fall should mark September 16-17 on their calendar. That is the weekend that the Iowa Barn Foundation (IBF) will hold its annual All-State Barn Tour with 72 historic barns across the state open for touring inside and out.

Many of the owners and family members will be on hand to share the stories behind their barns, which served as the central hub of activity on the farm. The Iowa countryside will be one expansive museum with barns located across the state. The self-guided tour is free and open to the public.

New to the Tour this year is a barn called Toad Hall in Allamakee County, located at 919 East Main Street, Waukon, the property of James Garrett and Kathy Hannum. This gambrel roof bank barn was built in 1912. The owners have taken steps to preserve the barn including foundation repair in 2014, window/door replacement in 2012, and a fresh coat of paint in 2020.

The barn was originally built for general farming operations with hay/feed storage in the upper level and animal shelter in the lower level with a dirt floor. It was bestowed the Award of Distinction.

The All-State Barn Tour will also include 11 barns from seven other counties in northeast Iowa. Those barns include three from Winneshiek County, two from Clayton County, two from Bremer County and one each from Butler County, Floyd County, Howard County and Mitchell County.

The Iowa Barn Foundation is especially excited to have a record eight round barns on the tour this year, which are the most unique and rare type of barns built in the state. Out of the approximately 200,000 barns built in Iowa, only 250 were round (including octagonal and multi-sided) representing just 0.13% of all barns built. Only 74 of Iowa’s round barns remain standing today, and many in various states of disrepair. Each of the eight restored round barns on this year’s tour are unique works of art, and visitors will leave with a great appreciation of the craftsmanship that went into their construction.

Why were round barns built? The largest surge in Iowa round barn construction came in 1910-1920 after they were promoted by universities, including Iowa State, for dairy operations. The circular interior layout was pitched as more efficient for the farmer to work in a circular pattern, accentuated by a central silo. Material efficiency in construction and greater structural stability were also key advantages cited. The enthusiasm for these barns was short-lived. Many of the efficiency claims were largely overstated and offset by more complicated and expensive construction methods. Construction largely ended as the 1920s came to a close.

The 1883 Secrest Octagonal Barn in Johnson County received an Award of Distinction in 2023, and it is joining the fall tour for the first time. The three-story bank barn is like no other barn in the world featuring an eight-sided bell-shaped roof topped with a cupola 72 feet above the ground. All eight of the round barns offer a glimpse into a unique period of agriculture history in our state. Don’t forget about the 64 other historic barns to visit as well, each with their own story to tell.

Full tour details can be found online at For questions about the Barn Tour or Foundation, email

Founded in 1997, The Iowa Barn Foundation is dedicated to preserving Iowa’s rural agricultural buildings. The all-volunteer statewide organization is organized as a 501(c)(3) Iowa non-profit. The primary mission of the Iowa Barn Foundation is to educate the public about the significance and importance of Iowa’s barns through the Iowa Barn Foundation Magazine and our Barn Tours. It raises money to provide barn rehabilitation or restoration matching grants to help property owners restore their barns.

In addition, property owners who use their own funds to restore or rehabilitate barns that would otherwise qualify for a matching grant, are eligible to receive an Iowa Barn Foundation Award of Distinction. For more information on the Iowa Barn Foundation, visit their website at and Facebook page at