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Fall Festival

Posted August 26, 2015 in Cover Story, Community Cover Story, Beaverdale

The addition of a car cruise, street games and horse rides, plus the ribbon cutting to celebrate the end of the years’ long Beaverdale Streetscape project await residents at this year’s Beaverdale Fall Festival.

The Beaverdale Fall Festival will be Sept. 18 and 19 and feature musical entertainment, rides, a parade, car cruise and more. Theresa Graziano, president of the festival committee, stands outside of GoodSons, which will host live music both nights of the event.

The Beaverdale Fall Festival will be Sept. 18 and 19 and feature musical entertainment, rides, a parade, car cruise and more. Theresa Graziano, president of the festival committee,
stands outside of GoodSons, which will host live music both nights of the event.

This year’s fall festival is Sept. 18 and 19 and 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 food, craft and product vendors. Neighborhood bars and restaurants have live music during the two-day event.

A new car cruise will be from 6-8 p.m. Sept. 18 in the south end of the parking lot of Michael’s Pizza. Street games such as a large Jenga game, a princess and a super hero in costume and maybe a Big Wheel’s race will take place that night on the south side of Urbandale Avenue.

“Friday night without fireworks we needed something to draw people,” say Theresa Graziano, who has served as Beaverdale Fall Festival committee president since 2005. “We’ve never had a whole lot for young kids.”

Jeni Green and her husband, Bob, are Beaverdale business owners and hosts of the car cruise. Another committee member came up with the idea for a car show, and Jeni jumped on the idea because she and Bob are car enthusiasts and each have a Corvette — hers is a 2005 convertible; his is a 1999 fixed roof coupe.

The Greens participate in many car cruises throughout the Des Moines area. The Beaverdale cruise is for classic, muscle and late model cars, or anyone who has a car that is fun and interesting. It’s free to participate.

“We’re excited to think we could organize one and get some really nice cars into the Beaverdale area for the Fall Festival,” Jeni says.

Organizers are calling it a car cruise because vehicles will come and go. Cars can start to arrive at 5:45 p.m. and enter from the south at the barricade on Beaver Crest Drive. There’s only space for 54 cars, so if people want to make sure they get in, they need to come early, Green says.

“Bring your car and expect a good time,” she says.

Anyone with questions can call Green Family Flooring at 255-2600.

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.

Theresa Graziano, the president of the Beaverdale Fall Festival committee, hangs up a poster advertising the event outside of Le Jardin in Beaverdale. Photo by Melissa Walker.

Theresa Graziano, the president of the Beaverdale Fall Festival committee, hangs up a poster advertising the event outside of Le Jardin in Beaverdale. Photo by Melissa Walker.

Holy Trinity Catholic Church had also hosted an annual celebration in September at the time. 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. Planning for the next festival begins in February.

Attendance was up last year. Organizers guestimate how many attend by counting carnival ticket sales. The festival stayed busy until it closed at 11 p.m., and people stayed late — the streets were full of people, walking around and talking.

“Our attendance was great last year,” Graziano says. “We just keep hoping for good weather because that makes all of the difference.”

Festival will celebrate the end of streetscape project, not include fireworks display

This year’s Beaverdale Fall Festival will celebrate the finish of the business district’s streetscape improvement project, which is scheduled to be completed by the weekend of the festival or before.

The ribbon cutting is at 1:30 p.m. Saturday at the intersection of Beaver and Urbandale Avenues. There will be a short ceremony with members of the business community and the Fall Festival committee in attendance.

Even if there’s a little construction work still ongoing, Graziano says festival organizers will work with it and make the festival the best it can be, just as they did last year when construction forced street closures and inspired committee members to create the tagline “Can you dig it?” showing a beaver wearing a hardhat with a shovel.

Each year a Fall Festival logo is designed and put on T-shirts and other commemorative items. The 2015 items will be on sale at the Beaverdale Neighborhood Association/Fall Festival booth. Bob Zimmerman, a neighborhood resident, along with festival committee member Kate Ross, designed the logo for this year’s event, which features three beavers with the words “Food,” “Friends” and “Fun.”

This year there will be T-shirts, key chains, koozies and peel-able decals, along with hoodies that are still available from the 2013 festival. 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 on Beaver Avenue.


There will be no fireworks at this year’s event. Initially, there was not going to be fireworks at last year’s festival, but the developer of the former Rice School site was delayed in breaking ground for the residential construction project, so fireworks could be set off from the site.

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, and all other activities and vendors should be ready to go about that same time.

The festival continues into Saturday. Holy Trinity Catholic Church and School will sell breakfast burritos and homemade cinnamon rolls from their food stand.

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.

Bill Stowe, the chief executive officer and general manager of Des Moines Water Works, will serve as this year’s parade marshal. He was nominated by a committee member.

The deadline for parade entries is Sept. 11. Both the application and $50 fee must be received by that date. Those who want to be in the parade can contact Graziano at gtam33@yahoo.com, or go to the festival website: www.fallfestival.org.

On Saturday, there will be horse rides, live music at restaurants throughout Beaverdale and a teen dance with open mic.

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 and Christopher’s Restaurant. 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 be back on Saturday in the Ace Hardware parking lot. It features handmade works by local people that include crafters and emerging artists. There also will be product vendors such as those who sell Tupperware and other items that they distribute through a company.

Anyone who would like to be a vendor can contact Denise Mernka at 255-6895 or iowahutch@q.com. Information and the application are available online at the festival’s website: www.fallfestival.org.

Saturday’s festivities take place until 10 p.m. Regardless of how late the party goes, the festival committee and members of the Beaverdale Beautification Committee 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 other volunteers help keep the area tidy during the festival.

The Fall Festival basically pays for itself. There is a lot of expense involved in paying for barricades and the street closures, police patrol, having the streets cleaned and for all of the items the committee has to rent for the event.

Last year the event made money, and, in keeping with tradition, that money was given back to local schools.

Part of the festival is paid for by the “Beaver Brigade,” a fun yard competition in which little plastic beaver cutouts are placed in a resident’s yard. This is the fourth 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.

“It’s already happening,” Graziano says. As of Aug. 4, the beavers had already found a home in at least 10 yards throughout the Beaverdale area.

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