Nancy Mayfield

Nancy Mayfield

It’s just a few miles out of town – 4.5 miles to be exact – but Codfish Hollow Barnstormers is one of the best kept secrets in Jackson County.

And it’s a place that anyone who lives in Maquoketa or nearby should visit if they haven’t. 

I was reminded of this a few weeks ago when I attended a concert teeming with people there to see Ani DiFranco perform her first show at the venue. 

I’ve been to countless concerts in places ranging from huge stadiums to smaller music halls, but nothing compares to this hidden gem right here.

As I packed onto the tractor-pulled hayrack for a ride from the cow pasture parking lot down a bumpy dirt road to the iconic round barn that once housed hay and cattle, all I could think was “this is so cool.” Since 2009, it’s been the site of live music concerts, which run from April to October. Each show features an art festival, food, drinks, and fellowship in a rustic setting that melds a rural flavor with cutting-edge music. 

When you get to the barn, you can stand and sway to the music. Or bring a blanket or chair and sit on the hillside outside the barn, under the stars, where you can still hear really well. 

The barn draws people from many miles away who are avid fans of indie music or follow a particular band. And sometimes the shows, like DiFranco’s, sell out quickly. But other shows have tickets available the day of the event. And those would be great shows for local folks to attend if they’re looking for some entertainment.

For example, tickets are still available for the Thursday, July 18, show by The Lone Bellow, a band that originated in Brooklyn and is now based in Nashville. They’ve toured with Kacey Musgraves. Go to to check out upcoming shows and ticket availability.

If you’ve never been to Codfish Hollow, you should check it out and “see what all the fuss is about,” as the saying goes. Shawn and Tiffany Biehl and their small but dedicated crew and volunteer force put their heart and soul into the place. With each show having the capacity to handle 600 people, they bring a lot of people to town. 

I say we pack the place.

And while I’m on the subject of things that make Maquoketa one-of-a-kind, the Ohnward Fine Arts Center is another gem in our community. Executive Director Richard Hall, along with volunteers, works hard to bring quality entertainment to this 800-seat venue that opened at the end of 2004. Musicals, comedians, concerts and children’s productions are among the programs offered throughout the year. 

There’s an opportunity tonight (Saturday) to check out Branson on the Road – Salute to America, which is a musical celebration of songs and stories about our history, heroes and home. Go to for more information on upcoming shows and tickets.