Herky’s Urban Heartland Debuts at Herky on Parade

Herky on Parade is back—and this time Urban Acres had the honor of collaborating with a local artist to bring one of the iconic statues to life. Introducing, Herky’s Urban Heartland

The Urban Acres-sponsored Herky joins 99 others sprinkled throughout Johnson County as part of Iowa’s largest public art project. First let’s just say, wow, 100 Herkys! Before we dig into how the Urban Acres Herky came to be, we want to share a peek behind the scenes about “reveal day” and tell you where Herky’s Urban Heartland is located.

When launch day arrived on Wednesday, the Urban Acres team huddled in celebration of a simultaneous unveiling of more than 100 Herkys in different places throughout Johnson County. The synchronous reveal was coordinated with the May 1 tornado siren test at 10:00 AM. They gathered where the Urban Acres Herky proudly stands: the west side of Ranshaw Way Parklet in North Liberty along the bike trail (directly off Highway 965 on the west side near the tunnel between Golfview and Hawkeye Drive). Or, enter Quail Creek Circle into your map and you’re just a short walk from the west parklet. As the agents celebrated the reveal, a tornado siren test went off at 10:00 a.m. adding a whole new level of excitement to the launch.

Herky’s Urban Heartland was officially unveiled, featuring a bold orange beak and a playful, full-body, illustrated map highlighting communities and landmarks throughout the Corridor. It includes the larger cities like Iowa City, Coralville, North Liberty, and Cedar Rapids, but also showcases Kalona, Washington, Lone Tree, Solon, Amana, Swisher, Shueyville, Lisbon, and Mount Vernon. While you won’t see any local businesses labeled on our Herky, you will see some fun “easter eggs” included to represent the unique aspects of our local communities. Look for hints like cereal bowls, community pools, ice cream shops, and more!

Let’s take a quick step back. If you’re like us, you might enjoy hearing a little about who’s behind Herky on Parade, who the artist was behind the Urban Acres Herky, and why we sponsored a statue.

Did you know the first Herky on Parade occurred in 2004 and was so popular it was brought back in 2014? Now, ten years later, the third wave of Herkys celebrates the 20th year of Herky on Parade and Herky’s 75th birthday! Definitely a great time to throw a party. 

Who made it possible? Think Iowa City originally planned to commemorate Herky’s diamond anniversary birthday with 75 Herkys placed across Johnson County. However, due to an influx of design submissions, more statues were added to the lineup.

“I only wanted to do 75 Herkys, but there was so much demand. And when we did this in ‘04, we did 75. And then when I did it in 2014, we did 84,” said Josh Schamberger, president of Think Iowa City. “When we got to 75, our collective team was like ‘Josh, come on, you can do 25 more.’ And so we did 25 more.”

Angie Eichhorst and Cindy Clark pose with Herky on the day of the reveal.

The same “no-brainer” decision-making happened at Urban Acres when deciding if they wanted to sponsor and submit a design for a Herky. As Urban Acres agents Cindy Clark and Angie Eichhorst said, “Herky embodies everything that is awesome in this world; positivity, love, excitement, competition! Herky brings everyone together no matter who you are or where you are from in supporting our community and showing Hawkeye Pride. It was an easy decision to be a part of the project, and we cannot wait to explore our community to find them all!”

Agents Cayla Swift and Daphne Patton with Herky’s Urban Heartland after the reveal.

Agent Cayla Swift describes hosting a Herky as an honor, no matter how many times you’ve participated in the event! “My family was involved in the original Herky on Parade in 2004 at Slugger’s Neighborhood Restaurant & Grill, which closed after the flood in 2008. We hosted the “Harry Caray Herky” there. What an honor back then! Fast forward to now, why wouldn’t Urban Acres want to be a part of this amazing event for all to see and for artists to showcase their talents?”

Agents Phil O’Brien and Sean McIntyre show off their version of Herky’s fighting stance at the reveal.

Herky mimics what Urban Acres is about, says agent Phil O’Brien. “It represents our core values at Urban Acres to not only support but also be an active part of our community.”

Out of over 300 design submissions from local artists, 100 designs were chosen by an artists’ committee to transform the beloved Herky the Hawk, who has also undergone a brief transformation this year, into the third generation of statues. This time, the Herkys can be seen holding their right fist high, ready to charge.




Kevin Mellen and artist, Conrad Hellman, of Creative Mellen with the completed Herky.

Herky’s Urban Heartland came to life with the help of local artist, Conrad Hellman of Creative Mellen. Hailing from Fort Madison, Conrad is one of many who came to the area for the University of Iowa and never left, instead calling Iowa City home. 

“Illustration is not something I’m typically comfortable doing, but it was the best solution to Urban Acres’ request for a community-focused design, originally used for tote bags, [a popular swag item],” explained Conrad.

“As the local experts who know these towns inside and out, a group of Urban Acres agents were enlisted to come up with a list of landmarks of each local community as well as qualities each is known for. While the entire list couldn’t fit within the design, the end result really shows off anchors in our community,” explained Sarah Dalevaar, Urban Acres Marketing Director. 

Adapting the original design to Herky’s body took some consideration. As a primarily digital artist, Conrad was up to the challenge of transposing the design with paint. After deciding on a full-scale wrapped-around design across Herky’s entire body, there was a period of experimentation to see what features fit where.

“We had to see where things fit, where I could wrap the roads around each other, and even how certain elements look on the legs and arms,” described Conrad. “I ended up having most of the center of the original map on Herky, while the far East and West ends of the map wrapped around the back. Lots of trees houses, and roads helped to fill in less visible or prominent areas (like the armpits!) where we didn’t want to put any major landmarks or towns.”

Herky’s Urban Heartland, along with the other 99 statues, will be on display throughout Johnson County all summer long until the event’s culmination at the 15th Annual FRYFest on Friday, August 30. This will be the final time on display for many Herkys before any purchased by sponsors head to their final location. While Herky’s Urban Heartland will be headed home to the Urban Acres headquarters in Coralville, any statues that were not purchased by their sponsor will be auctioned off at a public event in September.

Make plans to visit all 100 Herkys in Iowa City and surrounding cities this summer by checking out the catalog and map of this year’s statues at herkyonparade3.com.

Visiting the Urban Acres office this summer? Head down the street to Iowa River Landing where you can find From the Logo Herky at Hyatt Regency, Heartlander Herky at Xtream Arena, Wrestler Herky near Marquee Pizzeria, Handcrafted Herky near Von Maur, and Birds of a Feather Herky outside of the Think Iowa City office all on display!

And for our friends in North Liberty, say “Hi” to our Herky for us!

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