John Wayne’s Birthday Party

Our little burg is the birthplace of John Wayne. People from around the world come to see the little clapboard house where he was born in 1917, and to visit the local John Wayne Museum. The last weekend of May is a huge festival celebrating the birthday of The Duke.

This year, our first here, the guest of honor for the John Wayne birthday celebration was lovely Maureen O’Hara who starred with Wayne in The Quiet Man. At the moment she arrived, the bell tower in the courthouse played When Irish Eyes are Smiling. The local theater ran free John Wayne movies all weekend. Corny and so charming! Over 35,000 people joined the locals in the celebration, including folks from Germany, Austria, and China.

Maureen O'Hara and pipers

This event was Ms. O’Hara’s last public appearance, and the town went all-out to make her welcome. There were Irish singers, dancers, and pipers along with a special dinner and line dance in her honor. Iowa Governor, Terry Branstad even signed a proclamation declaring May 25 as Maureen O’Hara Day in Iowa.

Governor signing proclamation

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