Des Moines area summer events that will keep students busy


by Kylee Hereid

While many Simpson College students will travel home for the summer, many others will continue to call campus home. However, without classes and campus events to stay busy, these students are left with too much time and not enough to do.

There are many events that take place annually in Des Moines over the summer Simpson students can attend on a budget. Hosting dozens of festivals, art shows, farmer’s markets, fairs and concerts, students can stay busy while staying close to campus.

The Des Moines Downtown Farmer’s Market opens May 2 for its 40th season and will be open to the public every Saturday until October.

The market’s website states its support for local agriculture, and the market presents producers from across the state. Students can shop for fresh produce, herbs, flowers or baked goods, listen to local music artists, dine at a variety of street vendors, and browse a variety of arts and crafts.

Aside from shopping, attending the market is free. Students can choose to enjoy the sights, music, and atmosphere without having to spend any money.

Another budget-friendly event is the Des Moines Arts Festival. From June 26-28 at the Western Gateway Park in Downtown Des Moines, students can enjoy numerous demonstrations and installations.

Some activities include: Juried Art Fair presenting 195 artists selected through competition, Habitat for Humanity Blitz Build, Interrobang Film Festival, live music performances, over 30 interactive arts activities, sculpture garden and a variety of performances such as acrobats, comedy and dance.

Other annual festivals offer a glimpse into different cultures, such as the Asian, Latino and Italian-American Heritage Festivals’.

The 13th annual Asian Heritage Festival, also known as CelebrAsian, is Iowa’s largest Asian-American event. According to the event’s website, the festival exhibits culture, food, history, performance, sports and martial arts. In addition, family-friendly activities and rides are also available.

The event will take place May 22 and 23 in Downtown Des Moines at the Western Gateway Park. It is hosted by the Iowa Asian Alliance and will celebrate the 40th anniversary of the resettlement of Southeast Asian refugees.

The Latino Heritage Festival takes place in September and can be enjoyed by returning students as well.  It is a two-day festival where the Latino community celebrates ethnic pride through food, music, and performance.

The festival is not only the largest Latino festival in Iowa, but is also Iowa’s largest ethnic event. It aims to make Iowans aware of the positive aspects the Latino community brings to the area.

Similarly, the Italian-American Heritage Festival takes place July 24 and 25. This year, the festival will feature a performance by Steve Augeri, an Italian-American rock singer best known as the lead vocalist for the group Journey from 1998 until 2006.

The admission for the festival will also raise money for the Food Bank of Iowa and the Amanda the Panda Family Grief Center.

The Des Moines Music Coalition hosts a larger event taking place July 10 and 11. The 80/35 Festival attracts nearly 35,000 people from across the country and features a wide variety of music, art activities, do it yourself booths, play zones and more.

In the past, the festival has hosted groups such as Death Cab for Cutie, Avett Brothers, Modest Mouse, The Flaming Lips, The Roots and dozens more.

The website states, “80/35 will send you on a fantastic musical odyssey.”

One of the biggest events taking place is the Iowa State Fair, occurring August 13 through August 23.

According to the fair’s website, the Iowa State Fair is listed in the New York Times 1000 Places to See Before You Die and is the country’s most famous state fair. It attracts more than a million people from around the world by offering one of the world’s largest livestock shows, countless attractions, unique food options, and live entertainment.

This year, the fair’s grandstand events will include concerts from Casting Crowns, Def Leppard, REBA, Carrie Underwood, Alabama, The Fray, Meghan Trainor and more.

Students can also stay in Indianola for the 2015 National Balloon Classic, a nine day hot air balloon show and festival complete with live bands, fire works and hot air balloons from all over the country. This year, the event will take place from July 24 until August 1.

Enjoying these events and the many others taking place in Des Moines is also made easier by using Simpson’s car share program.

According to Simpson’s website, the organization Enactus partnered with U-Haul to bring the program to campus so students could travel without owning a car, paying for parking or having insurance.

To reserve a vehicle, individuals can check out a car at an hourly rate by visiting

By attending events and utilizing programs Simpson makes available, students are able to stay busy even on a budget. More events will become available for students to enjoy in the Des Moines area throughout the summer.