Sac City

Rooted in the arts; Sac City employs artists to beautify town, welcome visitors

-Submitted photo
This dandelion art work adds to the beauty of Sac City's South Park.

SAC CITY — In an era when towns do their best to differentiate themselves, Sac City is going beyond the popcorn ball. And it’s a pretty darn spectacular popcorn ball for sure, built in 2016, weighing 9,370 pounds and standing taller than eight feet.

But, even with its grand stature, it sets in the shadow of the artwork you’ll find throughout this community of 2,060 people.

Fine arts have deep roots in this county seat. A music conservatory attracted many students in the late 1800s; the Chautauqua movement brought in quality performers, an opera house graced the downtown area, and residents supported fine architecture and public monuments. In recent years, public art has transformed the town.

In 2017, the late John H. Criss left $5.7 million in a trust to be used for beautification in Sac City. Criss was the owner of Chief Clothing Co., and he was a lifelong resident of Sac City. Criss named Renae Jacobsen, Dewey Reese, and the mayor of Sac City as trustees to oversee citywide beautification efforts. The trustees have commissioned many works of art throughout the community.

Tanner King, a metal sculptor from Sac County, has created pieces ranging from giant dandelions to realistic birds to huge cattails. King’s many works join existing murals, Bubba Sorensen’s Freedom Rock, and a wide assortment of granite works honoring veterans from the community. The trustees have commissioned many works of art that create a vibrant community.

-Submitted photo
This set of flying geese was created by Tanner King, a metal sculptor from Sac County.

“A vibrant arts community helps propel a thriving economy,” said Jamie Lawrence, city administrator. “Sac City has a rich history of promoting the arts.”

The Chautauqua Pavilion was erected in 1908 to demonstrate the community’s deep artistic roots; this movement was housed in a large pavilion that remains as a significant example of outdoor auditoriums in the state.

The Sac City Arts Council has helped support performing and visual arts in the community. The group has worked on numerous projects including cemetery walks, featuring the stories of some of Sac City’s founders; a concert by the 34th Iowa Army Band; concert by the Stan Kenton Legacy Orchestra, numerous concerts by folk musicians, and partnering with the local library, museum, and school for enrichment events.

Much of Sac City’s artwork — cattails, dandelions, and realistic birds — reflects the nature that surrounds the community.

Located along the Raccoon River and adjacent to Chautauqua Park, Riverside Campground offers a secluded area for camping while still being a five-minute walk from downtown Sac City.

-Submitted photo
This eagle was created by Tanner King, a metal sculptor from Sac County.

North Raccoon River Water Trails, located in the Raccoon River Valley, offer access to kayaking, canoeing, and tubing. Sac City has multiple carry-in access points through town with riverside primitive camping.

Created in 2021, the North Racoon River Nature Trail makes for a great 45-minute walk along the Raccoon River. Located next to Riverside Park and Oakland Cemetery, this trail is close to downtown while also having an isolated feel, making it a perfect place to get away for an afternoon walk with your dog or a friend. Constructing a new river access in Riverview (Lions) Park will allow even greater enjoyment of the river. Primitive camping and other amenities will be coming soon.

The Sac City Trails Committee has worked to develop and improve both bike trails and water trails in and around Sac City. Developing a trail head in Criss Park, complete with a bike repair station, and marking various on-street trails helps attract visitors and keep residents active.

The North Raccoon River is a great resource for kayaking and canoeing. Cleaning the riverway, adding a fence to a bridge on Main Street, and improving access to the river are all significant parts of the committee’s plan that is quickly providing additional opportunities in Sac City.

-Submitted photo Cattail Cove, featuring giant cattails created by metal sculptor Tanner King, offers a gathering space in the heart of the business district. Located in the center of downtown Sac City, it was voted the 2020 Best Beautification Project by Main Street Iowa, according to the town's website.


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