Celebrity sightings were big this year in Iowa. Movie stars like Mark Wahlberg and Jason Momoa brought long lines to area grocery stores as the Des Moines native courted controversy alongside country star Jason Aldean.
Consistent celebrity appearances paved the way for one of the Hawkeye State’s most star-studded years in recent history. From “American Pickers” to David Letterman taking a shift at Hy-Vee, here are the Register’s picks for the five best celebrity moments.
5. David Letterman surprises shoppers at Grimes during a summer promotional visit
Late-night talk show legend David Letterman took a summer shift at the Grimes Hy-Vee. Letterman was in town for the Hy-Vee IndyCar race at Iowa Speedway in Newton when he surprised shoppers in the Des Moines suburb. Letterman spoke with supermarket employees and filmed a skit with two of them during his promotional visit. He even opened a pair of Campbell’s soup and fed it to her with a pair of tongs. Letterman, who has a promotional partnership with Hy-Vee, co-owns the No. 45 race car that competes in the IndyCar race.
More ▼: David Letterman surprises shoppers by bagging groceries at a Hy-Vee supermarket in Iowa
4. Jason Aldean addresses the ‘small town’ controversy at the State Fair
Jason Aldean sparked controversy this year as his hit single “Try That In A Small Town” soared to the top of the Billboard Hot 100. Following the No. 1 hit, Aldean took the stage to perform “Small Town,” which is co-written by Des Moines native Curt Allison, who grew up on the city’s South Side. The video for the song contains references that offended some viewers. During his performance at Iowa State, Aldean signed an American flag after slung it over his shoulder and strode across the stage.
“You can’t do anything these days without offending somebody,” Aldean told the crowd of 12,581. His performance closed the grandstand performances at the 2023 Iowa State Fair.
More ▼: Jason Aldean Addresses ‘Try It In A Small Town’ Controversy During Iowa State Fair Show
3. Comedian Matt Rife meets Iowa’s “hottest” doting mom
Iowa mom Christina Reeder first went viral after a raunchy NSFW video from Matt Rife’s March show at the Funny Bone comedy club in West Des Moines captured the Internet’s heart.
“You’re so cool,” Rife said to Reader, who brought him crackers and a cute t-shirt.
Then, in November, the pair went viral again after a show in Ames. Reeder gained nearly 800,000 followers on Instagram after the interaction. She has donated funds from her famous cookie recipe sales to charity and inspired a “Hot Moms Are Made In Iowa” t-shirt from East Village-based Reagan.
After the show in Ames, the couple met for a photo and Christina presented Rife with a John Lennon vinyl.
More ▼: Comedy star Matt Rife’s ‘hottest’ mum, Christina Reeder, says he looks ‘average’
2. American Pickers’ Frank Fritz and Mike Wolf are reuniting after 3 years
Original “American Pickers” duo Frank Fritz and Mike Wolf reunited for the first time in three years over Memorial Day weekend in a tearful moment. The childhood friends shot to reality TV fame in 2010 with their relatable on-air personas as they criss-crossed the country in search of rare antiques. Then, in 2021, Fritz left the Pickers and suffered a stroke, which Wolfe announced on his Instagram in an emotional post. A longtime friend became Fritz’s guardian and a local bank took over oversight of his finances. But for a moment in May, they were reunited.
1. Jason Momoa runs into an ex-girlfriend from high school in Norwalk
Jason Momoa and his former high school girlfriend, Lindsey Aaron, had a different kind of reunion at Norwalk High School in October. Momoa returned to his hometown of Fairway to sign bottles of his new Meili Vodka, which he created with his best friend Blaine Halvorson. Also stopped at the Hy-Vee in Urbandale.
But Aaron stood in line at her hometown store to see Momoa, sharing a brief moment of conversation before they parted ways – again. Aaron was invited to drinks with other Norwalk alumni, but did not attend because her daughter had a debate tournament.
Jay Stahl is an entertainment reporter at The Des Moines Register. Follow him on Instagram or contact him at [email protected].