The annual Beaverdale Fall Festival will be held Sept. 19 and 20 and will take place despite some of the streets in the area being under construction as part of the neighborhood’s streetscape project.
“We’re going with it,” says Theresa Graziano, who has served as Beaverdale Fall Festival committee president since 2005. “Whatever we have to do, we will make the festival as good as it’s always been.”
As a result of the road construction, this year’s poster was designed with a beaver on the front wearing a hard hat and holding a shovel with the words, “Can you dig it?”
“We could tell people to wear their hard hats,” Graziano jokes.
The annual parade will take place as always, but the west side of Beaver Avenue between Urbandale and Sheridan Avenues could possibly still be under construction, which would mean the parade would only take place on the east side of the street. Worst case scenario, Graziano says, is the bands that participate in the parade would have to squeeze together.
Also, there will be no fireworks at this year’s event. The former Rice School site where the fireworks were set off in past years will no longer be available because the site is being redeveloped.
“Because of the construction and everything going on, we haven’t tried to bring in anything new this year,” Graziano says.
The 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 and vendors selling food, crafts and other products. Neighborhood bars and restaurants have live music during the two-day event.
The final layout for the festival is in flux until organizers know what areas are open or closed from the construction.
“We have our backup plan for whatever happens if something is not complete, and we need to work around it,” Graziano says. “People will still be able to get here. They might just not be able to park as close to the streets as they used to.”
The street dance for teenagers will be held again this year, though its location could change.
Festival designed to celebrate neighborhood dates back to the 1980s
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.
This year’s festival is being held a week later after some feedback regarding the fact that the event was held the same weekend as the Iowa-Iowa State football game last year.
“We try to avoid the Iowa-Iowa State game,” Graziano says. “We landed on it last year, but we had one of the best years we’ve ever had. But people tend to get upset when they see that it’s scheduled for the same weekend as the game.”
Graziano says that didn’t deter people from attending last year’s festival. Carnival ride operators and vendors said the 2013 festival was one of their most successful as far as sales.
“The Iowa-Iowa State game did nothing to hinder the success of the fall festival,” she says.
Festival offers food, crafts, music and more
Beaverdale businesses will host musical entertainment and offer specials for those who are attending the festival.
Bands play both Friday and Saturday nights at Holy Trinity, GoodSons, Saints Pub + Patio, Tally’s Restaurant, Christopher’s Restaurant and Michael’s Pizza. Each restaurant or bar is in charge of hiring its own band or bands for the weekend’s festivities.
Food vendors are located along Urbandale Avenue on both the east and west sides. The craft fair will return for a third 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 two years ago with much success.
The craft fair will be Saturday and will include crafters and emerging artists. There also will be product vendors such as those who sell Tupperware and other products that they distribute through a company.
Two-day event kicks off Friday night, continues Saturday with parade
The festival begins 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 at about 5 p.m. for the carnival, and all other activities and vendors should be ready to go about that same time.
Each year a Fall Festival logo is designed and placed on T-shirts and other commemorative items. The 2014 items will be on sale at the Beaverdale Neighborhood Association booth. Bob Zimmerman, a neighborhood resident, designed the logo for this year’s event.
This year, there will be T-shirts, key chains, koozies and peel-able decals, along with last year’s hoodies that are still available. Items also are being sold every other week at the Beaverdale Farmer’s Market, which takes place from 4:30-7:30 p.m. on Tuesdays at Boesen’s Field.
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 will also 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 Ave. and then north on Beaver to Euclid Ave. 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.
David Maxwell, president of Drake University, and his wife, Maddy, will serve as this year’s parade marshals. The Maxwells were selected because David is planning on retiring next year, and festival organizers wanted to honor him and his work.
The deadline for parade entries is Sept. 12. Both the application and $50 fee must be received by that date. Those who want to be in the parade can contact Graziano at firstname.lastname@example.org or go to the festival website: www.fallfestival.org.
The community stage will open after the parade on Saturday in the Ace Hardware parking lot. A small local band will play along with performances by the Isiserettes, Farrells, the Van Cleve Dance Studio and others.
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 helps clean up the entire festival area.
The fall festival basically pays for itself. There is a lot of expense involved in paying for barricades, street closures, police patrol, having the streets cleaned and rental costs.
Last year, the event made money, and in keeping with tradition, that money was given back to a local community group.
Part of the festival is paid for by the “Beaver Brigade,” a fun yard competition in which plastic beaver cutouts are placed in a resident’s yard. This is the second year the committee has organized the event. Residents can pay to have the beavers removed from their yard and placed in another resident’s yard. The brigade can stay in place anywhere from a few days to a couple of weeks if residents don’t pay to have them removed.
“We do it late at night, so the people don’t know they’re getting them,” Graziano says. “It’s another way for us to raise money.”