Dyersville, Iowa, isn't on the main tourist route but baseball fans make the trip anyway. By Linley Wartenberg.
More than 15 years after Ray Kinsella built it, people still come to the Field of Dreams.
Around 65,000 baseball fans a year are drawn to Dyersville, Iowa, to see the ball park Kevin Costner's character built in a cornfield in the 1989 film Field of Dreams.
The field reopens for the season on Friday, two days before the 2005 first major league baseball game takes place. But while the famous cornfield is by far the town's biggest attraction, there are many other things to do and see here.
But there's no denying that the Field of Dreams is why most people come to Dyersville. With the exception of a concession/souvenir stand down the left field line and two movie-related displays, everything is as familiar to ardent fans of the movie as an old baseball glove.
In the past 15 years, more than 1 million people have come to see the field. The first visitor, a man from New York, travelled to Dyersville after watching the movie.
"One morning when my brother was getting ready to go to work, he saw him sitting on the bleachers," said Becky Boeckenstedt, whose brother, Tim Lansing, owns most of the property that the field sits on.
"After that, they slowly started coming. They played on the field that whole summer."
She estimates 7500 people visited the first year, with the number doubling the following summer. Visitors come from 50 states and dozens of countries.
"There's not a day goes by that a car doesn't come down the lane," Boeckenstedt said. "Mainly, they've seen the movie, love the movie and want to come to some quiet little place and that's what this is."
There's often a game going on, but the line-up is never written down.
"It's just a pick-up game from morning to night," Boeckenstedt said. "A family from California meets a family from New York and they all play together."
Denny Grall made the six-hour trip from Escanaba, Michigan, where he works as a sports editor for the local paper, The Daily Press, with his family to see a fantasy game sponsored by Upper Deck, the sports trading card company.
Fans who bring gloves can take the field, but equipment can also be borrowed from the Left and Centre Field shop behind the bleachers. The Lansing family, which has owned the farm for 98 years, operates a separate concession at the site.
Young and old line up, waiting for a turn to take an at-bat in the box where Archie "Moonlight" Graham winked at the pitcher and hit a sacrifice fly ball.
Some turns take longer than others, since it's almost an unwritten rule that no one strikes out and there are no bases on balls.
Long balls to the corn are ruled as ground-rule doubles, but no one keeps the statistics. Instead, people talk about the movie and the magic of baseball.
"I really believe the Field of Dreams, over this length of time, has become a part of American culture," said Keith Rahe, who manages the Ghost Players, a community team made up from some of the ball players from the movie.
The team shows up at the park each Sunday from June to September, emerging from the corn to host an hour-long baseball game with visitors.
"At noon, the guys appear out of the corn like they did in the movie," Rahe said. "I've seen it a thousand times and it still sends a shiver down my back."
Families wander around the outfield, playing catch or posing for pictures as they step in and out of the corn.
There's a shaded area in right field where fans take a break from the game and watch the action with a cool drink at the picnic tables.
There's no admission, and the field owners get no city revenue for upkeep.
Profits from the concessions run by the Lansing family and Left and Centre Field help offset maintenance costs.
Boeckenstedt said it's nice to watch visitors play ball in what once was a cornfield.
"We see people enjoy coming and thank us for keeping it," she said. "There aren't too many little places like this that operate in the world."
Apart from the Field of Dreams, Dyersville is known as the "Farm Toy Capital of the World."
Here you'll find the National Farm Toy Museum, doll and woodcarving museums, and several companies that manufacture die-cast replicas of farm equipment - Ertl, Scale Models and SpecCast. Annual toy shows held in November, March and June also draw visitors.
"All the other attractions were here before the Field of Dreams," said Karla Thompson, executive director for the Dyersville Chamber of Commerce.
Dyersville is also home to the St Francis Xavier Basilica, built in 1889, featuring twin gothic spires, 64 windows and a marble foundation beneath the altar. Services are held every Sunday, including two in Latin.
The National Farm Toy Museum opened in 1986, three years before the movie. It features over 30,000 toys and exhibits with tractors, implements, trucks, miniature farm dioramas, and toy manufacturing information.
"The higher the detail, the less 'toy' they become," said Anne Reitzler, the museum's manager. "They become more collectible."
The Farm Toy Museum recently welcomed the Midwest Toy Truck show, a smaller version of the bigger show held each November, which typically attracts 8000 to 10,000 people.
The Summer Farm Toy Show is scheduled for June 3-5.
Dyersville's Dyer-Bostford Doll Museum boasts a collection of over 1000 dolls as well as a German Feather Christmas tree and a hand-carved wooden circus model. The Becker Woodcarving Museum is located just outside of Dyersville.