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Between a YouTube series and Ice Cream Days gigs, Le Mars gospel family are too busy to chill

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LE MARS, Iowa -- The gospel singing Brown Family must have one heckuva to-do list.

When they're not performing at the Browns Century Theatre, brothers Adam and Andrew help out at their family's rural Plymouth County farm.

Similarly, sister Michaela is known to leap from the stage to the stove, testing out recipes. After all, she has three cookbooks to her credit.

And mom Shelly? She was the brains behind "Hometown with The Browns," a twice-a-month YouTube series which gives audiences a behind-the-scenes peak at the Gospel Music Association Dove Award-nominated family.

"We actually came up with the idea to do a reality series years ago," Shelly Brown explained. "Then, we decided to purchase a historic bank building that eventually turned in the Brown Century Theatre in 2015."

"And as often happens, construction on a 100-year-old building took more time and more money than expected," Adam said, continuing the story. "So, everything else had to be on the back burner."

Seven years later, Michaela remembered her mom's reality TV concept.

That was when the family began producing "Hometown with the Browns."

"Each episode has a different song as its theme," Shelly said. "Michaela will demonstrate a new recipes, Adam and Andrew will have a fun 'What's Up with the Brown Boys' segment."

"A lot of times, that will be a home improvement spot, which is Adam's specialty," interjected Andrew.

"Plus, every show ends with a word of inspiration, courtesy of mom," Michaela said.

"But the main thing is it showcases our music as well as our hometown," Shelly said. "We do love Le Mars."

Indeed, the Brown Family will be presenting "Oh My Iowa!" -- a musical salute to the Hawkeye State -- at 1:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday in the Browns Century Theatre, 11 Central Ave. N.W., as part of Le Mars' Ice Cream Days celebration.

Home to Wells Enterprises, Inc. and Blue Bunny Ice Cream, the "Ice Cream Capital of the World" will be the site for a multitude of family friendly activities.

In addition to the Browns' "Oh My Iowa" show and their Ice Cream Days outdoor closing show concert (at 4 p.m. Saturday in the Olson Cultural Events Center, 3 First St., N.W.), the Plymouth County seat will teem with stuff to see and do.

However, this year's Ice Cream Days will be very different than past festivals, according to executive planning committee member Shannon Rodenburg.

"For years, Ice Cream Days was a time for the community to come to together for a celebration," she explained. "This year, we've revamped the festival as a way to bring out-of-towners to Le Mars."

While such time-tested events as car shows, smile contests and an ice cream social will continue.

But Rodenburg is also excited about new activities like a carnival with midway rides (3 to 9 p.m. Friday and noon to 7 p.m. Saturday); and, even, an ice cream-themed performance from the Omaha Arts Circus (7:30 p.m. Friday).

In addition, there will be daily Scavenger Hunts, where visitors can spot historic highlights on downtown buildings, and Alley Art exploration tours, featuring public displays and the large-scale murals on the alley walls of local businesses.

Event organizers wanted to bring as much of Ice Cream Days to downtown Le Mars, Rodenburg said.

This included street performers, live artists, food vendors, merchant mart and a kid's zone in or near the Olson Cultural Events Center. 

"With gas prices as high as they are, more people are sticking closer to home," Rodenburg said. "That's why most of Ice Cream Days events are either free or inexpensive enough for families."

Which is a sentiment shared by the Browns, whose theater often brings in busloads of visitors to see their shows or shop in their next door gift and chocolate shop.

"There is something wonderfully inviting about visiting a small town in the summertime," Shelly Brown said. "Ice Cream Days is the time of the year where Le Mars can show off what made it famous all over the world." 

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