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A Trek for the Troops: A report on my trip to Riverside Iowa's TREK FEST XXII (Jerome A. Holst © 2006)

"The Star Trek Monuments"

As we approached the town of Riverside, Iowa, we came upon a  road sign which advertised: "Riverside: Where the Trek Begins."

Riverside Road Sign
Joe points the way To Riverside, Iowa

Riverside Road Sign

Within minutes of the aforementioned sign, we arrived at our ultimate destination: Riverside, Iowa (which takes its name from the nearby English River). It is located about 20 miles south of Iowa City along U.S. Highway 218.

Riverside changed the name of its annual "River Fest" event to TREK FEST in 1985 after a local man named Steve Miller convinced the town council of Riverside to contact Gene Roddenberry, the creator of the Star Trek series and ask if the town could lay claim to being the future birthplace of starship Captain James T. Kirk (his birth state of Iowa was first mentioned in the book "The Making of Star Trek"). Luckily, Roddenberry agreed to their proposal and the rest is history.

Downtown Riverside, Iowa

Riverside's downtown is about three blocks long. Prominent Star Trek related monuments and memorabilia riddle the area.

For example, a starship replica - called the USS RIVERSIDE - is on display in a park at the entrance of town. It is towed each year in the TREK FEST parade.

USS Riverside

Down the street from the park is a monument commemorating the future birthplace of Captain James T. Kirk, It is located in a yard sandwiched between the Vintageville antiques store and the New Image hair salon. 

Vintageville Antiques in Riverside, Iowa

Captain Kirk Sign

Kirk Monument

An apple tree which grows in the small green space between the buildings provides shade for Trekkies who visit the spot. A white bench in front of the monument allows visitors to sit and contemplate the mythology of the Star Trek universe.

Captain Kirk and GI Joe Action-figures
Action figure James T. Kirk welcomes Joe to Riverside, Iowa

Some other Star Trek related items in town include the store front of a local restaurant on the main street that sports a sign in its window that reads "TREK: Join us and dine with the ancestors of our own Capt. James Kirk". The Riverside Area Community Club (RACC) also sells Riverside soil samples called "Authentic Kirk Dirt" to tourists who visit their little hamlet.

Over the years, some of the cast from the original and subsequent series have visited Riverside. In 2003, William Shatner (a.k.a. James T. Kirk) filmed a movie called Invasion Iowa in Riverside. It turned out, however, to be a not so serious movie project but rather a spoof of sci-fi films and filmmaking in general. When the hoax was discovered, most town folks were good sports about it. The screening of the film has now become part of the festival activities.

Star Trek related festival activities in 2006 included a live band event dubbed the Spockapalooza; a Sci-fi swap meet, a christening ceremony for the new Shuttle Riverside NCC 63541/1; and viewing of Star Trek episodes and Invasion Iowa in the Red Barn in Hall Park; and The Great Trek, a scavenger hunt with the first prize of $100. One of the items to find (in Vintageville Antiques) was an action figure of James T. Kirk whom Joe had met earlier.

There was also a costume contest  with Federation, Klingon and Supporting Cast categories. Thirty people competed in this year's contest, but it was Corporal Trent Reedy, an Iowa Army National Guard soldier - recently returned from Afghanistan with Task Force 168 - who won the first-place prize for his Captain Jean Luc Picard impersonation.

The theme for the 2006 TREK FEST parade was "Tomorrow is Yesterday" (based on the title of a classic Star Trek episode).

Continued >


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