Baseball. Soccer. Hockey. Bowling. Kickball. Volleyball. People in Story County and around the country are drawn to compete in these sports and many others. Still more gather on the sidelines to cheer for their favorite athletes and teams. Nowhere do Americans more intimately connect to sports than in their hometowns. Ames Main Street, in cooperation with Main Street Iowa, will celebrate this connection as it hosts “Hometown Teams: How Sports Shape America,” a traveling exhibition from the Smithsonian’s Museum on Main Street program. “Hometown Teams” will be on display September 29 through November 11, with an opening night “tailgate party” scheduled for October 4, 5-7pm in downtown Ames. Ames and the surrounding community was chosen to host “Hometown Teams” as part of the Museum on Main Street program—a national/state/local partnership to bring exhibitions and programs to rural cultural organizations. The main exhibit will be located at the Octagon Center for the Arts, while complementing local exhibits can be seen at the Ames Historical Society, the Ames Public Library, Iowa State University’s Design on Main, and Little Woods Herbs and Teas. Central Iowa teachers are invited to download free lesson plans for a variety of different subjects and all grade levels, sign up for field trips, and apply for field trip grant money at amessmithsonian.org. Iowa State University student interns will go through a Smithsonian docent training program to provide each field trip with a personalized and interactive learning experience. “We want to make it easy for area educators to use this unique opportunity,” said Cindy Hicks, Executive Director of Ames Main Street. “How often does a child in Iowa get the chance to see an exhibit from the Smithsonian Institute?” “Hometown Teams” captures the stories that unfold on the neighborhood fields and courts, the underdog heroics, larger-than-life legends, fierce rivalries and gut-wrenching defeats. For more than 100 years, sports have reflected the trials and triumphs of the American experience and helped shape the national character. Whether it is professional sports or those played on the collegiate or scholastic level, amateur sports or sports played by kids on the local playground, sports are everywhere in America. “We are very pleased to be able to bring ‘Hometown Teams’ to Story County,” said Heather Johnson, Executive Director, Octagon Center for the Arts. “This exhibit offers residents of all ages the opportunity to explore this fascinating aspect of our own region’s sports history. We hope many visitors will be inspired to become more involved in the cultural life of our community.” “Hometown Teams: How Sports Shape America” is part of Museum on Main Street, a unique collaboration between the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service, state humanities councils across the nation, and local host institutions. Locally, the exhibit is sponsored by the Ames Convention and Visitor’s Bureau community grant, Ames Tribune, City of Ames, Hunziker Companies, Iowa State University Athletics Department, Mediacom, Wells Fargo Bank, and the Ames Chamber of Commerce.