On Sunday, Aug. 20, it's a safe bet that a line of vehicles will be travelling along 145th Avenue in rural Clinton County.

The Our Lady of the Prairie Retreat is at 2554 145th Ave., Wheatland, a quiet site in the rolling hills of rural Iowa.

The Spirit of the Prairie party is from 3-6 p.m. on this Sunday, and the fundraiser offers enticements to visitors, including food from local sources, works of art from Quad-City artists in a silent art auction, live music, and tours of the center, located on what once was the 200-acre Dierickx farm.

The Congregation of the Humility of Mary bought the center in 1999 and began the outreach ministry.

The retreat provides hospitality and service to people of all faiths. It's a favorite place of Sherry Nauman, Eldridge. Nauman is with The Advisory Group, Davenport, a main sponsor of the Aug. 20 event. She started visiting the retreat several years ago with a group that uses one of its features, a labyrinth. 

"We had a weekend retreat there, and I fell in love with the property," she said.

The Aug. 20 event has something for everyone who visits, Nauman said. "You go out to experience the peacefulness, and the beauty, and all that is involved with the prairie retreat center.

"I love to introduce people to the area," she said.

Sister Kathleen Storms, who is with the School Sisters of Notre Dame, directs the center and works with about 50 volunteers on the fundraiser.

It's the seventh annual event, and it is scheduled later in August so organizers can use the fresh tomatoes grown on site. "This is right after the tomatoes are heirloom perfect," she said.

This year, the menu with feature fingerling potato salad, with the spuds donated to the event, chicken salad with locally raised poultry, cabbage slaw and home-made cookies. "All of this is fresh, fresh food," Storms said.

Refreshments include locally sourced wine and beer choices.

For the second year, the Spirit of the Prairie will feature Quad-City artists: Pat Bereskin, artist and teacher; Rose Moore, pastels; Regan Hatfield, modern, abstract acrylics, Keith Bonstetter, paper cutting; Gail McPike and Barbara Youngquist, spinning and weaving.

Each artist donates a work of art to the auction, and some also host meet-and-greet sessions, and answer questions about their work. 

Nauman's favorite place on the property is the labyrinth, which drew her to the retreat in the first place, and also a swing, which hangs from a tree near one structure. "When you swing, you can see quite a distance into the country, but still feel the peace."

Fundraisers like this are very helpful. According to Storms, one event last spring allowed the sisters to purchase a chair lift — that provides a motorized way for a person to go from the first to the second floors at the retreat center. 

Guests are asked to register for the Spirit of the Prairie event, so organizers know about how many volunteers are needed and how much food to prepare, Storms said. 

"It's really a fun afternoon," she said.

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