Marker 126 Receives Iowa Venture Award | News, Sports, Jobs

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Kevin and Sheila Stumpf, owners of the Marker 126 Travel Center, received the Iowa Venture Award from the Iowa Area Development Group on Thursday. From left are: Bruce Nuzum, President/CEO of IADG; Debi Durham, director of the Iowa Economic Development Authority; Tim Marienau, CEO of Prairie Energy Cooperative; Sheila Stumpf; Kevin Stumpf; Todd Foss, Prairie Energy Cooperative.

A new travel center just outside Fort Dodge on US Highway 20 is already drawing statewide praise.

On Thursday, Marker 126 owners Kevin and Sheila Stumpf received the Iowa Venture Award from the Iowa Area Development Group (IADG) and its rural electric cooperative partners at the Iowa Electric Cooperative Association’s annual meeting in Des Moines.

“The Iowa Venture Award provides an opportunity to recognize and thank companies that are innovating, creating jobs and investing in Iowa.” said IADG President/CEO Bruce Nuzum. “IADG and its partners are proud to recognize Marker 126 for providing an exceptional travel stop and experience for those traveling on Highway 20.”

The Iowa Venture Award, now in its 34th year, is presented to individuals and organizations, both large and small, in recognition of their significant contributions to the Iowa economy through entrepreneurial leadership, innovation and job creation.

Iowa Economic Development Authority and Iowa Finance Authority Director Debi Durham joined IADG as the award presenter.

The Marker 126 Travel Center, located near the 126 mile marker on US Highway 20, opened in September. In addition to the typical gas, diesel and convenience store offerings, Marker 126 is also home to Table 126 Restaurant, Brew 126 Cafe, and a creamery serving Kemp’s Ice Cream.

The building, which was designed by Sheila Stumpf, includes indoor and outdoor seating, a fireplace area with comfortable seating, and a loft for meetings or groups to gather while traveling.

The Stumpfs were proud to accept the Iowa Venture Award this week.

“It means a lot that we’re investing in Iowa,” Kevin Stumpf said. “We’re investing in rural Iowa, not just the big city.”

The Stumpfs wanted to bring more than a gas station or truck stop to that stretch of US Highway 20 – they wanted to create a true travel hub. With their restaurant, they decided to model it after the Panera Bread restaurant chain.

“It’s a healthy option rather than a normal truck stop or convenience store food,” Kevin Stumpf said.

The restaurant serves sandwiches, soups and homemade pizzas. The cafe offers artisanal coffee and espresso drinks.

The Stumpfs plan to eventually add electric vehicle charging stations, a dog park and a children’s play area. Additional site amenities include RV camping.

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