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.
Riverside's downtown is about three blocks long. Prominent
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.
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
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.
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
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
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
The theme for the 2006 TREK FEST
parade was "Tomorrow is
Yesterday" (based on the title of a classic Star Trek episode).