Fall Festival History

More than 20 years ago, merchants in the Beaverdale area first began the annual fall tradition now known as the Beaverdale Fall Festival.  Sidewalk sales, carnival rides, music, beer tents and a parade were centered around an Octoberfest theme and were known as Beaverdale Days.  Cold weather eventually caused the event to be moved into September, and the name was changed to the Beaverdale Fall Festival.

In the meantime, Holy Trinity Church had been hosting an annual event each September featuring a raffle, carnival rides, food, talent show, beer tent and a road run.  During the 1980s, the Beaverdale merchants and Holy Trinity decided to combine their efforts, leading to an expanded, single weekend of neighborhood fun.  The parade became a joint effort of the two groups and served as a rallying point, as they began to unify their resources, advertising and planning efforts.

Below are a list of past Fall Festival posters and a little info about that year.


We set out to throw the biggest, baddest, most bodacious Beaverdale Fall Festival ever this year… and we accomplished it! With the help of numerous sponsors, volunteers, vendors and merchants, the 2017 Centennial Celebration was one for the record books.

Friday night we had perfect weather to set up 55 food and non food vendors as well as a carnival. Our third annual Car Night was a huge success – drawing more than 150 show cars to the South end of Beaver. There were so many cars in fact, that we ran out of room and had to turn people away! The cars as well as the carnival, food vendors, and live music brought a huge crowd to the downtown Beaverdale area that night – it was a sight to behold.

Saturday morning, 18 Arts and Crafts vendors joined the festivities along with our first ever Beaverdale Fall Festival Dog Parade. Around 80 of our canine neighbors participated in the pooch parade. Judges picked the dog with the “Most Beaverdale Spirit” as well as “Owner/Dog Look Alikes”. A paws-itively perfect time was had by all.

Following the Dog Parade, the Fall Festival parade took off with 121 entries. This year there were 19 floats in our first ever float contest. Life Church of Des Moines took home 1st place, with Ocean Breeze Massage and Edward Jones in a close 2nd and 3rd. A little bit of rain slowed things down on Saturday afternoon – but the show went on with lots of great food choices all day long. The Kid Zone was a big hit along with horse rides. The Festival ended with an Open Mic and lots of great music provided by Beaverdale merchants. A rain storm did close things down a bit early but that all goes along with an outdoor Festival! Plans are already underway for September 14-15, 2018.


The 2016 Festival started with over 5,000 Facebook followers! We have always known that it’s not just Beaverdale residents that love the Festival! A full page ad in a city-wide publication doesn’t hurt our exposure. A photo booth was a new activity and a big hit. Groups of people could have their photos taken in front of a Festival backdrop which were then posted online. All kinds of photos were taken and reposted!

It is amazing how a carnival can set up in our little neighborhood but they sure do! The carnival started on Friday night, along with a Car Night, the same event that was rained out in 2015. There were cars everywhere – far more than were expected. Saturday brought the parade and the Kid Zone was open for business on Beaver Ave for the second year, including photo ops with super heroes. Baxter the Beaver officially became the Festival’s mascot. Festival goers helped name Baxter by voting with acorns, just like the corn kernels at the Iowa State Fair. Look for Baxter at the 2017 Festival!


It cannot be said that Beaverdalians don’t go out in the rain! Even though Friday night was a very rainy one early on, by late evening the streets had people walking up and down checking out the vendors who stayed through the rain and offered fine food, arts and crafts. And our restaurants brought their entertainment inside for the evening, and every one of them had shoulder-to- shoulder standing room only. We even had two cars for the Car Ralley. That is still called a successful evening in my book.

And then there was Saturday, and you could not have asked for better weather. With 124 Parade entries, and the Fall Festival’s official Beaver, the morning was terrific for all those that marched, danced, walked and entertained us all along Franklin and Beaver Avenues! All of the vendors had people at their booths all day and night. New this year was a Flash Mob from the singers at Roosevelt High School. Everyone was surprised and gave them a big round of applause! The horse rides were back, and there were smiles all along their “trail”. The Open Mic was a huge success. But the best surprise and the most fun was where the childrens games were. The laughter! The smiles! The happy children made this Festival the greatest yet. So save September 16-17, 2016, and we’ll party again.


Friday evening when the Festival began, the streets filled up with parents and children, and soon it became the start of a wonderful weekend. We had fireworks for the last time, and they were spectacular! The carnival rides had lines waiting to ride them. When Saturday morning arrived, and the sky looked like it might rain on our parade, everyone was surprised when 10 o’clock came, and the clouds parted to show a brilliant sun. The community stage had great performers, the teen dance was fun, and the open mic was a huge success for its first year. The bands that played up and down the streets provided some of the best music ever! Mark your calendars for Sept. 18-19, 2015, when we do it all again!


We went up against the Iowa-Iowa State game this year and guess what? We won! The weekend was full of hungry, thirsty, music-loving people who filled the streets with their laughter and desire to have a good time. The bands were great this year, and the fireworks were fabulous! We had the largest Parade ever, with 130 entries! The marching bands were here and they were great! We’re hoping for an even larger Parade next year! The restaurants and vendors did a great job feeding everyone. The food was great! There was some great dance moves happening at the Street Dance! The teens were having fun being in a place where they could enjoy themselves. We sold hoodies for the first time, and with the weather being on the cool side, they were a hit. All in all, another great year for our great event! See you all next year.


If you were to ask me if there was anything wrong on the Fall Festival weekend, my answer would have to be an emphatic “No!” Not a thing. You couldn’t have asked for better weather, fireworks, vendors, parade, music and people! It just doesn’t get any better. A huge thank you to the entire Fall Festival Committee who worked tirelessly – well, almost tirelessly – to give Beaverdale an event of which we can be very proud. And a thank you to all of you who paid attention to the recycling bins and made the Festival a “green” Festival. When we all work together, it makes for good times over the course of 1 ½ days.


A bit of chilly weather cannot stop Beaverdale from having a good time. The Festival was filled with people set on achieving that goal — and they did. By the looks on the faces of everyone watching the fireworks on Friday night, it could have been snowing and they would not have cared. The rides were full, and people were eating up a storm. Families lined the parade route and then turned to the Community Stage for our talented local performers. Music filled the air both nights, and pony rides brought plentyof giggles. All in all a great weekend. See you next year!


This year was not the best for the Fall Festival, but when you consider all the years we have had perfect weather, we cannot complain too loudly. Friday night was, however, still a perfect evening. And according to the vendors and carnival owners, business was booming. I knew Saturday morning when I left my house and saw chairs and blankets lining Franklin Avenue from Beaver to 48th, there would be a parade. And even though we were all rained on, it was a great parade. Thanks to everyone who hung in there with us.


This year’s Fall Festival was, by far, the biggest and best. I don’t believe we’ve ever had six bands play each night, over 130 parade entries, and have a movie company ask us to use the Festival setting in their film. But we did, and it was all done successfully. Every committee member gave over 100% during this weather-perfect weekend, and I humbly thank them for such dedication. Looking forward to another great Festival next year.


We keep having more fun every year. Dolph Pulliam was our Parade Grand Marshall, along with several Drake basketball players. I don’t believe I’ve seen a Grand Marshall have as much fun as Dolph. Way to go, Dolph! Having the streets closed has definitely been a plus for us. It didn’t take long Friday night for them to fill up with vendors and visitors. On Saturday morning our Community Stage was packed with local talent, which for the first time included some very talented canines!!! And we were very fortunate to have Bill Riley, Jr. announce the performers on the Bill Riley stage! All–in–all, another successful Festival. A big thank you to all who came out for the fun. You are what makes the Festival a success.


We had two firsts for our Fall Festival – 1) We closed Beaver Ave. from Sheridan Ave. on the South to Adams Ave. on the North, and closed Urbandale Ave. just past the medians on the east and west of it’s intersection with Beaver Ave. Once everyone realized they could walk down the middle of the street, Beaver Ave. was packed with families enjoying the safety this brought the Festival.
2) We had the Bill Riley Talent Search Stage, showcasing local talented young men and women and sending one of them to compete at the Iowa State Fair this August, 2008. The judges had a difficult time making a decision because the performances were all great. And, we’re doing it again in 2008!

The weather was perfect, the Parade was huge, and our Parade Marshall’s – a member of the four armed-service branches – were warmly received all along the Parade route. Every other aspect of the Festival was enjoyed by everyone. We’re already working on making more firsts happen next year. Hope to see you there – September 19-21, 2008.


Thank you Mother Nature!
I don’t think that needs any explanation! This year’s Fall Festival was under a cloud all week – until Friday afternoon. That was when Mother Nature decided to smile down on us and give us the weekend we needed to have yet another successful Festival. The crowds on Friday evening were having the best time listening to music and having fun on the new rides we had this year. And, the crowd along the parade route Saturday morning was one of the largest yet! Even when the clouds returned Saturday afternoon, they could not take away from the great entertainment we had on the community stage. The music Saturday night all around the downtown Beaverdale area was a joy to listen to. A big thank you to Toyota of Des Moines – Scion of Des Moines, for their generous gift to help make this year a success. And most important, I want to thank the Fall Festival Committee and the Parade Committee, because this Festival would not be possible without them. You all did a magnificent job!


2005 was a year of major changes. The entire festival was under new leadership, and all those who worked hard to make it a smooth transition succeeded! The festival was the best ever with new rides, vendors and a great parade. The T-shirt sales exceeded our expectations and a large reprint was necessary to meet the demand. We also auctioned off the original print of the T-shirt and raised even more money for our event. And as always, the music rocked the Beaverdale downtown area both nights. Now on to the next year!


In 2004, we’ll have unprecedented live music on Friday and Saturday nights, so check Friday’s and Saturday’s schedule of events frequently for updates. Our parade marshals will be retiring State Senator Jack Holveck and his wife Andrea White Holveck, a long-time teacher for the Des Moines school district, including more than 20 years at Rice-Monroe schools.

We just learned last week that the Des Moines Business Record has declared Beaverdale to be the “Best Place to Live in the Metro.” No surprise to us, is it? Fall Festival weekend is a terrific opportunity to show off our community and show festival visitors what “community spirit” really is. As Tom Boesen told the Des Moines Register recently, “Beaverdale is more than just a community. It’s a state of mind.”

As Fall Festival weekend approaches, take time to connect with your family, friends and neighbors. Consider making community a priority in your life. At the parade, applaud for every marching band and parade entry no matter what area of town they represent. Be gracious and welcoming to our visitors. This kind of thinking can be contagious, you know. Catch the spirit of community! Pass it on!


In 2003, Cityview published the results of its annual “Best of Des Moines” readers’ poll. The Best Annual Event? No surprise — the Iowa State Fair. The runner-up? Yes, indeed! The Beaverdale Fall Festival. Not bad for a neighborhood celebration! The Arts Fest, which had been held in 2002 at the former Rice school grounds last year, was combined with the craft show organized by Paulette Roche in the Gibbs/Michael’s parking lot. There was an exciting array of live music all weekend, including the Nadas, the Blue Band, the Flying Marsupials (farewell appearance), the Soul Searchers, Inkari, and Tony Valdez. The three stars of the smash hit “Triple Espresso” were our parade marshals, and our announcers were Heidi Soliday and Kevin Cooney of KCCI TV-8.


In 2002, as the one-year anniversary of September 11th drew near, I listened to announcements about heightened terror alerts as I logged in parade responses and updated the web site. It seemed somehow disrespectful to be excited about carnival rides, cotton candy, cake walks and the community stage while the TV was churning out story after story of heartbreak and loss. But we also heard tales of bravery, courage and spirit. Throughout the country people continued to reconnect as neighborhoods and communities come together to support and comfort their own. In many places, strangers had become friends; neighbors now felt like extended family. We welcomed record crowds on Friday and Saturday as one of the original festival founders, Holy Trinity parish, expanded the scope of its activities, including inflatable games and a Broadway Theater Review and cavatelli dinner on Saturday evening. In addition, Westminster Presbyterian Church introduced an art exhibit, church tours and other activities on Saturday. Our parade marshal was former ISU basketball coach Johnny Orr, and our celebrity parade announcers were Ken and Colleen of KIOA.


Governor Tom Vilsack led the 2001 Fall Festival parade, which featured every high school band in Des Moines and five bands from West Des Moines. Wall-to-wall spectators lined the sidewalks throughout the parade route. Co-parade announcer and KCCI-TV anchor Jeanette Trompeter wowed the crowd when she jumped down from the reviewing stand to boogie with the Isiserettes. Zearing artist Carolyn Blattel-Britton created a wonderful design for posters and t-shirts depicting life in Beaverdale and northwest Des Moines. Community spirit and patriotism were evident everywhere as we gathered together and counted our blessings less than two weeks after the terrorist attacks of September 11th.


Rain and cold didn’t succeed in dampening the spirits of 2000 Fall Festival celebrants. Though the weather was frightful, we had good crowds at the parade, street dances, and first annual BeaverQue pork cookoff. St. Luke’s Episcopal Church and Day Care for Exceptional Children held fundraising auctions and raffles, and the BeaverDash raised more than $10,000 for Familes of SMA (Spinal Muscular Atrophy). The 2000 festival will surely be remembered for the delightful rendition of “Beaverdale Gothic” by artist Erin Woody on festival shirts and posters.


Gorgeous summer-like weather ushered in the 1999 festival. On Saturday, a delegation from Iowa’s sister state, Yamanashi Prefecture, in Kofu, Japan, watched the parade, visited the Arts Fest, and met with parade marshal Lt. Governor Sally Pederson and local officials, including BNA president Bill Brauch, who presented them with official Beanie Beavers. We had record crowds at all events, including the Beaver Avenue trolleys. The Beaverdale Business Association hosted its first “Beaverdale Open Golf Championship” at Rice School, and hundreds of runners and walkers helped the Beaverdash raise more than $10,000 for Families of SMA (Spinal Muscular Atrophy). There was music for everyone: Christopher’s hosted the DJ’s from Beaverdale’s BC Productions on Friday night, and it was standing room only for the one and only Blue Band on Saturday evening. The Flying Marsupials returned to Michael’s by popular demand, and Reeds B&B Café (now B&BQue) hosted the Tony Valdez Group on Friday and Saturday nights. (Who could have ever imagined that the alley between Reeds and the Shoe Doctor could be transformed into a lovely garden patio with twinkling lights, trees and live music?) On Sunday, hundreds gathered to officially dedicate the InterUrban trail bridge east of the Harding Hills Hy-Vee.


The scope of the Fall Festival was expanded in 1998 to include activities at First Church of the Open Bible, Osco Drug and Beaverdale Estates. The parade, fireworks, carnival rides, Arts Fest, street dances and BeaverDash attracted thousands of people to our neighborhood. Ollie the Trolley was on hand to shuttle visitors to events throughout the neighborhood. Beaver Avenue was adorned with trolley stop signs created by Koester Construction and decorated by Beaverdale people especially for the Fall Festival.


1997 marked the return of a road run to the festival — the Beaverdale Beaverdash on Saturday morning. We also welcomed architect Mel Shivvers (Children’s Creative Activities), Mercy Medical Clinic and Mercy Franklin Center (free coffee & donuts), Calvin Community (first aid & blood pressure checks), and Westminster Presbyterian Church (Sunday Fine Arts Series).


The Beaverdale Arts Fest made its debut in 1996, featuring a wide array of work by local artists. Sponsored by Boesen the Florist, the Arts Fest provided a respite from the crowds in the central business district. We were pleased that so many people made the trip north on Beaver to browse, chat with the artists, and enjoy food and music provided by the Hoover High School band boosters.


The Beaverdale Arts Fest made its debut in 1996, featuring a wide array of work by local artists. Sponsored by Boesen the Florist, the Arts Fest provided a respite from the crowds in the central business district. We were pleased that so many people made the trip north on Beaver to browse, chat with the artists, and enjoy food and music provided by the Hoover High School band boosters.


The year 1994 brought another neighbor to the Fall Festival. First Church of the Open Bible helped expand the celebration south, proving that the Fall Festival spirit brings all kinds of neighbors together to make good things happen.


Severe flooding during the summer of 1993 brought neighborhood spirit to the forefront in Des Moines and other Midwest communities. The Fall Festival, which exemplifies what can happen when neighbors work together, proved to be a fitting showcase for celebrating community spirit.


Friday evening fireworks kicked off the 1992 Fall Festival and Beaverdale’s 75th anniversary celebration. Neighborhood tours by trolley and other first-time additions to the schedule drew people from throughout Des Moines. The Fall Festival had expanded beyond a mere neighborhood celebration, into a city-wide event.


In 1991, the Beaverdale Neighborhood Association (BNA) and the Acanthus Masonic Lodge threw their organizational resources in the Fall Festival, spurring new energy and ideas for the annual celebration. The parade (with 100 entries and three marching bands) and the Saturday night street dance attracted record crowds from the northwest area of Des Moines.