The Downtown Business Association had no idea that the seed of a small shindig would bloom into a bustling celebration.
Beginning around 1987, before the conception of the Chamber of Commerce, area businesses lined up yard sale tables around the Waukee Triangle, calling the event the Waukee Fall Festival. Their goal was to illustrate the alliance of local business.
The Waukee Chamber of Commerce swept through the festival plans in 2000 in order to grow the annual event. Several years later, the City of Waukee took the reins.
This year, the Waukee Leadership Academy reinvented the event as its class project, changing the name to “Celebrate Waukee” and scheduling it for June 5-6.
Kathryn Sandie, event co-chair and a member of the Waukee Leadership Institute’s 2014-2015 class, said the idea to transform the festival into a signature city event originated from a proposal by Mayor William Peard.
“The class unanimously decided to make this our class project,” said Sandie. “We wanted to kick off summer and give folks the opportunity to see what Waukee is all about. This event will feature our Historic Downtown Triangle and our beautiful Centennial Park.”
Part of the reason for shifting the event to the spring was to give families an opportunity to attend before schedules fill up with summer youth sports and vacations.
The family factor was essential in development of the Celebrate Waukee agenda. “In the planning of Celebrate Waukee, activities were planned with all ages in mind,” said Sandie. “We want everyone to celebrate the history and growth of Waukee.”
Terry Snyder, a 2012 graduate of the Waukee Leadership Academy, currently serves as the president of the Waukee Area Historical Society. She got involved with the planning of Celebrate Waukee through the “Amazing Race,” which will take participants on a history-focused journey of the area.
Snyder recalls, “The Lions Club always had the tent between the hardware store and the bank for dinners and entertainment during the day, followed by a dance at night, and then the band was moved to the street.”
“The Jaycees always had the beer garden until they disbanded,” said Snyder. “I’m not sure when the city took the festival over from the Chamber, but I believe it was around 2005 or 2006. So this will be the fourth group to take on the festival.”
The event will begin at dusk on Friday, June 5, with a movie in the Historic Downtown Triangle, hosted by the Waukee Parks and Recreation Department. Vote for your film of choice May 4-8 at Waukee.org.
On Saturday, June 6, also at the Downtown Triangle, the Waukee Rotary Club will hold a pancake breakfast followed by a 6k (about 3.75 miles) fun run.
Kids and business will parade down the street from Vince Meyer Learning Center toward Centennial Park beginning at 11 a.m., and Waukee businesses will be present in the Downtown Triangle as a nod to the event’s early years.
Free transportation will be available between the Triangle and Centennial Park.
There will be a mixed bag of activities in Centennial Park from noon until 10:30 p.m., including arts activities supported by the Waukee Area Arts Council, inflatable bounce houses, local vendors, and a Waukee-centric Kids Challenge.
Emergency vehicles from the fire department, police department, and Public Works Department will have equipment at the ready for kids to experience.
After the kids have had some fun, adults may head to the beer garden to compete in a bags tournament from 2-4 p.m.
The American Legion will serve up a sizzling steak dinner from 5-7 p.m. while The Herd performs from 4-6 p.m. Flipside, a self-described “ultimate variety band,” will wrap up the night with hot tunes 7-10:30 p.m.
When: June 5-6, 2015 beginning the evening of June 5
Where: Centennial Park and Triangle