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Inside Iowa State, a newspaper for faculty and staff, is published by the Office of University Relations.

May 20, 2005

ISU Extension returns to Des Moines Arts Festival

by Brianna Delphey, ISU Extension intern

Iowa State University Extension will play a key role in the 2005 Des Moines Arts Festival, providing activities for Iowa families and promoting ISU Extension's services.

The festival, ranked fourth best in the nation, will be held June 24-26 along the riverfront of downtown Des Moines. The Locust Street, Walnut Street and Court Avenue bridges, as well as First Street and East First Street will feature the work of 150 of the most talented artists in the United States.

Locust Street Bridge will be devoted to ISU Extension with the theme "Create. Connect. Imagine." Plans include several activity tents and a large stage.

ISU Extension officials hope urban residents will become better acquainted with Extension services, Iowa State University and 4-H during the arts festival, said Elaine Edwards, communications manager at ISU Extension.

"I've worked with urban audiences for almost 30 years and we struggle with the image of 4-H being for farm kids, but there are programs for urban youth as well," said Martha McCormick, a field specialist (youth development) in Polk County. "Being at the arts festival gives us a chance to show off ISU Extension, ISU and 4-H."

Chuck Morris, head of 4-H youth development, said the festival is "an opportunity to share the wonderful things we do and the programs we offer."

Eighth festival

The Des Moines Arts Festival began in 1998 as an effort to revitalize Art in the Park, a 40-year-old festival. The festival offers the Des Moines area a cultural event that is appropriate for families and free of charge. ISU Extension first participated in the festival in 2004.

"Extension was looking for a nontraditional opportunity to let the public learn of the programs and facilities Extension offers," said Mo Dana executive director of the Des Moines Arts Festival. "We're thrilled to have Iowa State as part of the Des Moines Arts Festival because it is such an important component of our state's future."

Last year, 230,000 visitors attended the event and most of them walked across the Locust Street bridge. Dana said she expects even more visitors to the 2005 Des Moines Arts Festival.

Themed activity tents

McCormick said each tent in the ISU Extension exhibit will carry out a theme corresponding to an Extension specialty and include a 10- to 20-minute art activity for children. The themes include:

Iowa State Dance, in the department of health and human performance, led some high-energy dance activities for visitors to the 2004 Des Moines Arts Festival. Photo by Del Marks.
  • Create a Garden. Participate in educational activities at six different stations. Help make a "dream garden" mural.
  • Imagine Your Future. Have fun with an art activity sponsored by the Brunnier Art Museum. Meet Cy, get an ISU tattoo and pose for photos in a costume from Iowa State's theater department.
  • Connect with Science and Technology. Make a coffee filter chromatography and learn something about science while creating your own piece of art. ISEK, a robot designed by ISU students, will greet you.
  • Connect with the Great Outdoors. Make a feather mask and learn about outside activities from staff at the ISU outdoor recreation services and the Iowa 4-H Camping Center.
  • Mind-Body Connection. Learn about the importance of physical activity and nutrition. Children can participate in various active games, play Dance Revolution and pose for photos in a fruit or vegetable cutout.
  • Imagine Art. Paint a large banner or create a quilt square. Volunteers will sew the squares together to create quilts that will be donated to the homeless or people with family in the military.
  • Imagine the Power of Youth. View working exhibits by 4-H members and a 4-H fashion show. Children can learn how to become involved in 4-H.

Visitors also can watch performances by the Iowa State dance troupe and 4-H members in a Share the Fun talent show on the center stage. ISU student organizations also will perform and give demonstrations.

"We're working really hard to get 4-H members from around the state involved," McCormick said.

Volunteers sought

ISU faculty, staff and student volunteers are needed to assist with activities sponsored by ISU Extension on the Locust Street Bridge. Volunteers should be enthusiastic, enjoy working with children and be available for four-hour shifts. Volunteer assignments include applying 4-H or ISU tattoos, making huge bubbles and assisting with art activities.

All volunteers will receive a free T-shirt. For more information, e-mail Elaine Edwards,

How to volunteer at the Des Moines Arts Festival:

  • Visit the festival's Web site at
  • Click on "volunteer" and open a volunteer application form
  • Fill out the form, select ISU Extension/4-H Activities and submit it online
  • Receive confirmation and instructions, including parking information and maps
standing in middle of a giant bubble

Volunteers were surrounded by a giant "bubble" in an ISU Extension tent at the 2004 Des Moines Arts Festival. Photo by Del Marks.

Arts Festival

Friday, June 24,
4-10 p.m.

Saturday, June 25,
10 a.m.-10 p.m.

Sunday, June 26,
11 a.m.-5 p.m.


More on ISU Extension at the Des Moines Arts Festival: