August “Khrushchev in Iowa” Events to Mark 50th Anniversary of Historic Cold War Visit


"Khrushchev in Iowa" Committee
June 8, 2009

Rachel Garst, 712-999-7031 (Historical context and current goals)
Liz Garst, 712-684-5240 (Garst family history, participant’s perspective)
Sandi Yoder, 515-205-0379 (General program questions)
Full commemoration schedule at


August "Khrushchev in Iowa" Events to Mark 50th Anniversary
of Historic Cold War Visit

Coon Rapids and Des Moines, IA., June 1, 2009 — "Khrushchev in Iowa," a celebration of U.S.-Russian agricultural and personal exchanges, will be celebrated August 27-30th in Des Moines and Coon Rapids.

The four-day program will mark the 50th anniversary of the 1959 visit of Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev, who came to Iowa to learn about corn production and livestock feeding from Iowa farmer Roswell “Bob” Garst.

The commemoration will celebrate agriculture’s contributions to international understanding, with a focus on furthering current-day positive Russian-American relations, agricultural cooperation, and trade.

Events will take place at sites Khrushchev visited in 1959, including an Aug 28 banquet at the Hotel Fort Des Moines that will recreate the 1959 banquet and an Aug. 29th family-friendly "Agricultural Progress Day" in Coon Rapids.

“Khrushchev visited our Farm because my grandfather reached out, offering to share Iowa’s innovations to help the USSR to boost food production,” said Rachel Garst, co-chair of the Khrushchev in Iowa committee. “He used agriculture to reach across ideological divides and tried to build a bridge to peace by focusing on increased agricultural production and trade.”

High-level political and agribusiness leaders from the U.S. and Russia have been invited and more than 70 Russians are interested in attending, according to Garst, who said U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack has personally presented an invitation to Yelena Skrynnik, the new Russian Minister of Agriculture.

A statewide planning committee involving more than 30 organizations is putting together this year’s program.

Ed Verona, president of the Washington, D.C.-based U.S.-Russia Business Council, says the event can help create a positive atmosphere for discussion of pending agricultural issues between the two countries. “Russia is one of the world’s leading agricultural producers and is soon likely to be a member of the World Trade Organization. This 50th anniversary event is therefore timely in more than just the historic sense,” Verona said.

"Khrushchev in Iowa" will highlight ongoing agricultural innovation with private tours for Russian participants of Iowa State University’s BioCentury Research Farm, Pioneer Hi-Bred, a DuPont business, a John Deere dealership, and cutting-edge farms and businesses.

“Our celebration will also renew many other types of Iowa-Russian exchanges,” says Garst. ”The 1959 visit started 50 years of positive Iowa-Russia relations in agriculture and in other fields from health to education.”

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