Dan Gable honorary chair of ‘Hometown Teams” exhibit

Dan Gable honorary chair of state-wide ‘Hometown Teams” exhibit from Smithsonian

Traveling installation launches six-city tour through Iowa in Mount Vernon

MOUNT VERNON, Iowa — Every hometown has its heroes. Every once in a great while, though, a hero comes along who transcends their birthplace, unifying communities, states, regions, and nations.

Iowa is home to one such hero – Dan Gable. Born in Waterloo, educated and a competitor in Ames, a coach at the University of Iowa, and an international athlete at the Olympic Games, wrestler Gable is the quintessential champion because he truly is everyone’s hometown hero.

This quality in addition to his personal athletic feats and unflagging support of the sport of wrestling as well as all athletes at all levels makes Gable the ideal spokesperson for the Smithsonian’s Museum on Main Street’s “Hometown Teams: How Sports Shape America” traveling exhibit through Iowa in 2018.

“The essential qualities of wrestling—sweat, dedication, and the determination to win–embody the American spirit,” Gable says. “One kid that can wrestle can make a town famous. Teams inspire and galvanize a hometown.”

The unifying nature of sports will be on display on a six-stop Iowa tour starting in Mount Vernon from March 18 to April 29 and continuing on to Ottumwa, Guthrie Center, Jefferson, Ames and Conrad. Each stop will include complimentary events, including appearances by Gable.

The traveling exhibit celebrates our local heroes within the larger context of the many roles that sports play in towns, cities, and states across the country. Hometown Teams examines how and why hometown sports are more than just games. They shape and unite us. From pick-up games to organized leagues, millions of Americans of all ages play sports. And, if we’re not playing sports, we’re sitting in the stands or gathered on the sidelines cheering young athletes as they take their first swing or score their first goal. Let’s not forget, either, the tireless souvenir salespeople and those slinging hamburgers and popcorn at concession stands.

All these people and moments make up the multi-faceted experience that is the legacy and tradition of hometown sports. In addition to investigating this narrative nationally, local community sports icons and fans also will be a part of the exhibit.

In Mount Vernon, the exhibit will be open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays; 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursdays; and noon to 4 p.m. Sundays.

Sponsored locally by the Mount Vernon-Lisbon Community Development Group, “Hometown Teams” will be on display at the First Street Community Center from March 18 to April 29, 2018. Affiliated events will complement the exhibit throughout the installation, including a book signing and presentation by Gable.

NOTE: Hometown Teams is part of Museum on Main Street, a collaboration between the Smithsonian Institution and Iowa Economic Development Authority’s Main Street Iowa program.. Nationally, support for Museum on Main Street has been provided by the United States Congress.

About Mount Vernon-Lisbon Community Development Group

The Mount Vernon-Lisbon Community Development Group (CDG), is an umbrella organization of which Main Street Mount Vernon is a large component. Five entities merged in 2008 to form CDG — the Chamber of Commerce, Marketing & Tourism Association, both Lisbon and Mount Vernon Economic Development Corporations, and Vision Mount Vernon. Their mission is to develop and promote businesses and enhance the quality of life in Mount Vernon and Lisbon.

About Main Street Iowa

The Main Street Iowa program works with a select group of communities committed to exceptionally high standards for downtown economic development. As a Main Street AmericaTMCoordinating Program, the more than 50 communities in Iowa are connected to a network of 40 programs across the country representing over 1,200 communities.


Photo: Dan Gable

Logos: Smithsonian, Main Street Iowa, Mount Vernon-Lisbon Community Development Group

Mount Vernon Exhibition Events:

  • More Than Just a Game, 10:30 a.m., March 24: Stories of discrimination in sports. Presented by the African American Museum of Iowa.
  • Movie: The Final Season, 1 p.m., March 26, Cole Library, Room 108
  • From the Pressbox: An Eastern Iowa Sports Media Panel, 7 p.m. April 4: Sports stories from John Campbell, Mark Dukes, Crystal Eskelsen, Ron Gonder, Jeff Linder, and JR Ogden.
  • Iowans in Baseball, 10 a.m., April 7: Historian John Liepa will explore the origins and evolution of baseball. View Liepa’s extensive collection of memorabilia and cards before and after the presentation.
  • Coach Jim Van Scoyoc, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., April 7: Meet the legendary Norway baseball coach.
  • Dan Gable Autograph and Book Signing, 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., April 14: Dan Gable will sign his most recent book “A Wrestling Life: The Inspiring Stories of Dan Gable”. Books will be available for purchase at the event.
  • Collecting Girls’ and Women’s Sport Histories in Iowa, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. April 21 and noon to 4 p.m. April 22: Contribute to the University of Iowa Women’s Archives.
  • Remembering 6-on-6 Gallery Talk, 10 to 10:30 a.m. April 21: A touring exhibition that tells the story of 6-on-6 girls’ basketball in Iowa.
  • Playing to Win: Kids and Sports, 1 p.m. April 14: Cornell College professors of kinesiology Steve DeVries and Kristi Meyer will discuss origins and social factors that have influenced the growth of youth sports in the USA.

Exhibition highlights:

  • A wall of sports‐related objects like Soccer Barbie, Air Jordan shoes, and Arnold Palmer tea will illustrate a look at how products use sports and athletes’ endorsements to hook buyers
  • Using a stereoscope viewer, visitors will have a chance to view 10 famous American sports venues representing a diverse group of sports
  • A tablet‐based interactive stocked with fight songs, videos of cheerleaders and marching bands, and photos of fun and unusual mascots from every state will introduce visitors to the excitement of athletic events
  • Visitors will be able to see how football helmets, baseball gloves and soccer shoes have evolved
  • A look at people and institutions that support local sports, and booster items from schools all over the country
  • A “Name That Sport” interactive introduces visitors to six unique emerging sports, including SlamBall and underwater hockey


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