Summer in Fort Dodge, and the living is easy.
Central Avenue comes alive with artists and boutiques and tons of shoppers. Classics roll on Friday nights to favorite diners. Families picnic in Victorian style on sprawling lawns in the Oak Hill District.
“It’s Always Something,” here in Fort Dodge, especially as the season of long, hot days and starry nights is about to return.
Frontier Days is back for its 39th Annual Run, the Webster County Fair is back as well, as are events all summer long at the fairgrounds.
This truly is a “frontier town” yet, filled with youth and exuberance, a bold style all its own, and always something going on for the entire family.
Market on Central
Market on Central is one of the newest annual events in Fort Dodge and has fast become one of the local favorites.
“We’re back for our third season, and we’ve got lots of fun stuff lined up,” says Cheryl O’Hern of Spin Market. “We’ve got a lot more anchor vendors that will be there all eight times, and a lot of special events throughout the summer.”
Market on Central will fill the downtown area on the second and fourth Saturday of each month, June through September, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.
A few of the anchor vendors will include Garden Winery from Gowrie, the Fort Dodge Cheesecake Lady, Olde Boston, and a new fresh produce vendor out of Grundy Center that offers produce not commonly found at most farmers’ markets. Another vendor will be offering organic meats, as well as Iowa honey and jams.
“With the late spring, we’re hoping that you’ll even find fresh asparagus at the first market,” O’Hern notes.
Other favorites will include pottery, jewelry, metal work and much more.
“We always tell everybody that you can come have breakfast, stay for lunch and take home dinner,” she adds.
There will be entertainment galore throughout the summer, kicking off with Oakland Cemetery reenactors strolling through the Market on June 8.
Frontier Days back for a 39th year
Fort Dodge is a town that’s never lost its bold, frontier spirit, and nowhere is that on display more than at the Annual Frontier Days celebration.
This year’s event is slated for Friday, May 31, through Sunday, June 2.
“We’ve got a lot of new bands this year — there’s always something new,” says Chairman Kerk Friday.
“Gimmick” will be making its Frontier Days debut on Friday evening. This Des Moines-based cover band has made a name for itself playing favorites from Aerosmith, Bon Jovi, AC/DC, Queen and many more.
The ’50s will come alive again on Saturday afternoon as Richie Lee takes to the Frontier Days stage. Stick around for the evening show when Bobby Awe and the All Stars makes a return to the festival.
Friday is also excited about a new attraction for kids and young adults called “The Vibe.”
“This is a tent with sounds and lights like most people have never seen before,” Friday says.
As always, there will be food and craft vendors, the Buckskinners Rendezvous, and lots more to do for all ages at the Fort Museum.
Perhaps the biggest attraction of all is the parade through downtown Fort Dodge. The parade will step off down Central Avenue beginning at 10 a.m. Saturday.
Frontier Days will mark its 39th annual run this year, while the Fort Museum is in its 49th year. Friday says there will be plenty of surprises to make it a great festival at a great facility.
The King Band plays on
One of the best-loved traditions of summer in Fort Dodge has to be a great American band concert in the park. The Karl King Band returns with a full season of music beginning with is annual Memorial Day concert at North Lawn Cemetery on Monday, May 27.
The regular season then begins on Sunday June 9, with the evening concert at the Oleson Park Bandshell. Expect marches and other classic, American favorites from this iconic municipal band as the concert series continues each Sunday evening through June and July.
A Victorian Evening
The more genteel side of this frontier town will be front and center when the Educational Outreach Committee of the Ann Smeltzer Charitable Trust hosts its Annual Family Victorian Evening on Tuesday, June 18.
It’s not hard to imagine the quiet, family life of the historic Oak Hill District in its younger days during this evening of leisure and fun on the east lawn of the Ringland Smeltzer House. Families are invited for a picnic supper and plenty of technology-free games guaranteed to make memories for children and parents.
“Everything is free,” says committee member Jack Christensen.
The Trust Committee provides a perfect picnic supper, and families are invited to bring a blanket to spread on the ground or lawn chairs for relaxing.
The evening begins with a family show, often including a juggler, puppeteer or magician. Following the picnic supper, Webster County 4-H members get in to the act leading some old fashion fun games. Expect gunnysack or three-legged races, egg toss matches and lots more fun. No Wi-fi needed, and for the full effect of this relaxing evening, leave the cell phones in the car!
Organizers moved the event back to 6 p.m. this year in order to give working families a better chance to take part, without missing any of the action. The entire event is free, but tickets are required for each member of the family planning to attend. Ticket availability, and dates for pickup by parents, will be announced in June from the Fort Dodge Public Library.
Styx comes to Shellabration
Visitors to Shellabration will be asked to “Come Sail Away, Come Sail Away, Come Sail Away with Me….” as the classics ’70s and ’80s rock band Styx headlines the annual event on Saturday, June 22.
The first band takes to the stage at 5:30 p.m., and the park will keep on rocking until 11 p.m. Styx will be sure to deliver its trademark “Lady,” along with many other classics from the time period. Also performing for the evening will be The Down to Earth Band.
Tickets are $30 prior to June 9 and $35 thereafter. Tickets are available at Hy-Vee and Hy-Vee Drug Store, or check online at www.shellabration.org for a full list of retail outlets.
Webster County Fair
It wouldn’t be summer without the Webster County Fair, this year set for July 10 – 14.
All the favorites will be back, including livestock shows, 4-H exhibits and more. A special attraction this year will be Rich Weibers BMX Stunt Show in the grandstand on Wednesday, July 10. Check out the Webster County Fair website — www.webstercountyfair.com — for a schedule of events.
Cruising with the Classics
Summer is the season for putting the top down and cruising in vintage automobiles under either sunny or star-lit skies.
Classic car enthusiasts from throughout central Iowa have been converging on Fort Dodge for Ja-Mar Cruise Nights once a month in the summer for nearly two decades. Classic cars, shined to perfection, begin rolling in late in the afternoon and stay until the sun goes down, filling the Ja-Mar parking lot and spilling into adjacent Crossroads mall parking.
The location makes for a great place for car lovers to come together, grab a burger inside or eat it picnic style beside their car, and maybe even do a little shopping. Perhaps most importantly, it’s a chance for car lovers to talk about their shared passion.
“It all depends on the weather, but on a typical night we average about 200 cars,” says Tim Swanson of Ja-Mar. “Sometimes we’ve had more than 300 cars.”
Cruise Nights for the summer of 2013 are set for the first Friday of the month in June, July and August. Even if you don’t have a car to show, it’s a fun place to simply walk around and dream about a classic of your own.
Find it at the Flea
All the stuff you never knew you really wanted can be found at Hillbilly Sales and Flea Market held once a month at the Webster County Fairgrounds.
From billy goats to Depression glassware, bicycles to jewelry, and from laying hens to vintage lawn ornaments, one can pretty much find it all at the Hillbilly Sale. You’ll also find Tupperware, antique crocks, tools and lots more.
Diehards come early Saturday morning to get the “good stuff;” the late-comers arrive on Sunday afternoon to clean up with the bargains.
Food vendors are on hand with mini doughnuts, kettle corn and even sandwiches to make a whole day of it.
Hillbilly Sales continue through the summer and fall, slated for May 11 and 12, June 8 and 9, July 6 and 7, Aug. 3 and 4, Sept. 14 and 15, and Oct. 12 and 13. Indoor flea markets resume in November and December.
Dragon Boats return
Dragon Boats will take to Badger Lake at Kennedy Park again for the 17th Annual festival set for Aug. 2 and 3. The artfully decorated boats glide across the water as teams compete in good-hearted fun. The event this year is sponsored by CJ Bio America. Look for more details as the event draws near.
Tell us about it!
Is there a special event that we missed? Of course there is! Frankly, there are more things going on in Fort Dodge than we have room for in just one issue. So let us know what you’d like covered in future issues. We love to hear from our readers because that’s what makes this your community magazine. Send your news and feature tips to email@example.com. Thanks for reading, and have a great summer full of activities in Fort Dodge!