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Posted August 21, 2013 in Beaverdale
The Beaverdale mascot at last year’s festival.

The Beaverdale mascot at last year’s festival.

Outdoor street games and more entertainment designed to attract teenagers are among the festivities at this year’s Beaverdale Fall Festival.

The annual event, which is Sept. 13 and 14 and serves as a celebration of the Beaverdale neighborhood, will be very similar to previous years, says Theresa Graziano, who has served as Beaverdale Fall Festival committee president since 2005.

The fall festival takes place in the heart of the Beaverdale neighborhood along Beaver Avenue from Beaver Crest north to Adams Avenue and on Urbandale Avenue east and west to the first median. It includes musical performances and other entertainment, a parade, rides, fireworks and food, craft and product vendors. Neighborhood bars and restaurants have live music during the two-day event.

The south end of Beaver Avenue near Beaverdale Books will be blocked off and is where street games will occur. Details were still being worked out at press time, but organizers were considering chess or checkers or some other type of board games where the street would be used as the board. The street dance for teenagers also will be held this year, though its location could change.

“There will be lots of room for young people to have something to do and hopefully something they’ll like to do,” Graziano says.

All of the two-day event’s activities will be located in high traffic areas.

“We’re trying to be visible where people see the things that are going on and want to come and be part of it,” Graziano says.

The Beaverdale Fall Festival started more than 20 years ago. Merchants in the area created a fall festival that had sidewalk sales, carnival rides, music, a parade and more. The event had an Octoberfest theme and was known as Beaverdale Days. Cold weather forced the event to be moved to September. It was later renamed the Beaverdale Fall Festival.

Holy Trinity Catholic Church at the time had also hosted an annual celebration in September. In the 1980s, church leaders and the Beaverdale business community decided to combine their efforts into the single weekend of the fall festival.

Festival committee members meet in October to discuss the next year’s event. Then planning for the next festival begins in February.

Nicer weather in 2012 improves attendance
After two years of cold, rainy weather, organizers were thrilled with the weather for last year’s festival.

“Last year was incredible,” Graziano says. “It was wonderful.”

Organizers know they’ll face a challenge this year to draw attendees, as the festival falls the same weekend as the Iowa-Iowa State football game.

“We knew that, but it is what it is, and we believe we will still have a good weekend,” Graziano says. “We know there will be people who will go to the football game, and there are people who won’t go to the game. People can come on Friday night and go to the parade Saturday morning and then go to the game that night.”

Festival offers food, crafts, music and more
Beaverdale businesses will host musical entertainment and offer specials for those who are attending the festival.

The carnival will open on Frday afternoon at 5 p.m.

The carnival will open on Frday afternoon at 5 p.m.

Bands play both Friday and Saturday nights at GoodSons, Saints Pub + Patio, Tally’s Restaurant, Christopher’s Restaurant and others. Each restaurant or bar is in charge of hiring its own band or bands for the weekend’s festivities. Holy Trinity will also host live music.

Food vendors are located along Urbandale Avenue on both the east and wide sides. The craft fair will return for a second straight year since it was revitalized. It features handmade works by local people. That component had been part of previous fall festivals and was successful but fell off for a few years while committee members changed. It returned last year with much success.

“We were very pleased,” Graziano says of how the craft fair turned out and the items that were offered.

The craft fair will be Saturday. It will include crafters and emerging artists.

“Our goal is to have people who make what they are selling,” Graziano says.

There also will be product vendors such as those who sell Tupperware and other products that they distribute through a company.

Anyone who would like to be a vendor can contact Denise Mernka at 255-6895 or Information and the application are available online at the festival’s website:

Two-day event kicks off Friday night, continues Saturday with parade
The festival starts on Friday evening. The streets are closed at 4 p.m., and vendors start setting up so they can be ready as soon as people begin to arrive after work. Rides begin operation about 5 p.m. for the carnival.

Each year a Fall Festival logo is designed and put on T-shirts and other commemorative items. The 2013 items will be on sale at the Beaverdale Neighborhood Association booth. Keeping with tradition, the shirts will not have a theme, and the artist designs the shirt based on his or her personal ideas. Usually artists incorporate a beaver into the drawing. Bob Zimmerman, a neighborhood resident, designed the logo for this year’s event.

This year, there will be T-shirts, hoodies, keychains with little beavers on them, stickers and koozies. Items also are being sold at the Beaverdale Farmers Market, which takes place from 4:30 – 7:30 p.m. on Tuesdays at Boesen’s Field.

Fireworks are shot off at dusk Friday from the empty lot at the corner of Beaver and Adams avenues, where the former Rice Elementary School was. Friday’s festivities run until 11 p.m.

The festival continues into Saturday with the annual breakfast at 8 a.m. at Holy Trinity Catholic Church and School. The Veterans of Foreign Wars and the Acanthus Lodge also will host pancake breakfasts.

The parade begins at 10 a.m. Its 1.7-mile route starts at First Federated Church, 4801 Franklin Ave., and goes east on Franklin to Beaver Avenue and then north on Beaver to Euclid Avenue. There are usually more than 100 entries that range from area schools, Girl Scouts, the Isiserettes Drill and Drum Corps. and veterans. About 30,000 people watch the parade, which lasts until about 11:45 a.m. or noon.

A parade member gives a youngster a high five during last year’s Beaverdale Fall Festival.

A parade member gives a youngster a high five during last year’s Beaverdale Fall Festival.

Des Moines Police Chief Judy Bradshaw will serve as this year’s parade marshal. Graziano says she was selected after a friend heard Bradshaw speak and recommended her.

“They were so impressed with her,” Graziano says. “Her entire delivery was wonderful, and they thought she was a good role model for women. She’s come a long way, and I thought ‘It sounds good to me.’ ”

The deadline for parade entries is Sept. 6. Both the application and $50 fee must be received by that date. Those who want to be in the parade can contact Graziano at, or go to the festival website:

The community stage will open after the parade on Saturday in the First American Bank parking lot, 2805 Beaver Ave. A small local band will play along with performances by the Isiserettes, Farrells, the Van Cleve Dance Studio and others.

“We’re trying to bring a broader range of acts,” Graziano says.

Saturday’s festivities take place until 11 p.m. or midnight. Regardless of how late the party goes, the festival committee and its volunteers are back out at the site early Sunday morning to clean up the area and make sure no trash was left behind. A local Boy Scout troop cleans up after the parade, and a group from the Walnut Creek Church help clean up the entire festival area.

The fall festival basically pays for itself. There is a lot of expense involved through paying for barricades and the street closures, police patrol, street cleaning and for all of the items they have to rent for the event.

Last year, the event made money, and in keeping with tradition, that money was given back to the community. Organizers decided to give the money to the school bands that participated in the festival parade. They included Merrill Middle School and Hoover High School in Des Moines and Kuemper Catholic School in Carroll.

“That’s what we try and do is give it back to the schools or youth organizations,” Graziano says.

Efforts like these are what make the Beaverdale Fall Festival an ongoing success.

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