- Minimum age to volunteer without a parent or guardian is 16. Due to liability we cannot permit non-volunteers to accompany volunteers while they are working. Children who are 14-15 years old may assist the parent or guardian. Students 14 and older may earn Silver Cord hours. The student will need a parent to sign a waiver.
- As a volunteer you are a direct representative of the Iowa State Fair. It is important you present yourself in a neat and professional manner. Volunteers will be provided a t-shirt to wear during the parade. T-shirts should not be altered in any way. You should keep your t-shirt to wear again next year. Volunteers are permitted to wear their choice of long pants, shorts, Capri’s, etc. We recommend comfortable footwear that is suitable for long periods of standing.
- It is hard to estimate exactly how long the parade will take each year, as many factors influence this. Volunteers will begin checking in at 4:00 p.m. and will not be dismissed until sometime between 8:00 and 9:00 p.m. (depending on your location). You are encouraged to bring something to drink and a snack or sack lunch.
- Be prepared for the weather. If it is hot you may wish to bring extra water to drink, a jacket or umbrella for rain, etc.
- Please be very patient and understanding when approached by participants or general public trying to navigate their way around the parade. Each year we have many first-time entries and visitors who may not be familiar with the parade or the layout of the capitol complex.
- Enjoy Yourself! We all know parades are fun and even better when you are a part of making it happen.
Staging Lot Volunteers
Greet parade entrants and line them up in numerical order, give directions to entries who need help finding their lot, and help non-parade traffic navigate out of the staging area. This position will be located on the Capitol Complex. Volunteers should be prepared to respond to a variety of questions about the parade, parking, staging lot locations, and traffic routes. Time requirement: 4:00 p.m. to approximately 8:00 p.m.
Check in at the Lucas Building starting at 4:00 p.m. and report to your assigned lot by 4:45 p.m. Once in your lot, please do not leave without a backup person in place. Use a communications person or send someone to find a Parade Official if you need help.
- Help direct units to their assigned lot using the parade entry list and map in your volunteer packet.
- Stand at the entry of your lot and “check in” each entry as they arrive. Confirm the type: ex. walking, truck pulling trailer, bicycle club, etc. Let them know who they will be following in the parade (name of entry and general description).
- Remind entrants of parade rules if you see problems.
- Make note of entries that are missing or do not show. You will need to relay this information to the Parade Official that comes by to release your lot.
- After most of the units have arrived, walk around the lot and put units in numerical order according to your list. It may not be possible for all entries to move around to actually line up once in the lot, do your best to know the order they need to leave in and make sure they also know who they lead/follow.
- Maintain unit order and readiness. Do not direct units out of your lot. A Parade Official will come by to release your lot.
- Encourage entrants to pick up trash and have things put away in preparation to exit the lot onto the parade route.
- When the Parade Official comes to release your lot, report any changes in the line up (no shows, change in order, drops outs, etc.). The Parade Official will relay the information to the appropriate parties.
- After the entries have left the lot, pick up any trash that was left behind. Bins and bags are available in all lots. If your bin is full, contact a Parade Official to get a replacement bag.
- Assist in overall enjoyment of the Parade.
- Have a positive attitude. Be happy and have fun.
- Be helpful. Take the organizational burdens off the parade participants.
- Stay alert. Even if all entries are in order, watch for problems and take care of your groups.
Additional Duties for Horse Lot Volunteers
In addition to the Staging Lot Duties listed above, volunteers in the Horse Lot will also:
- Remind drivers of horse trailers they must be driven down the parade route immediately behind each entry. Shortly after the horse entries go down the parade route, all streets will reopen to vehicle traffic; therefore no horses are to be ridden back to the staging lot after the parade.
- Be sure entrants scoop their own manure.
- Ask riders to keep horses off grass.
- Be sure riders are observing age limits and safety guidelines.
- No riders under age 8.
- All riders ages 8-15 are required to wear a helmet.
- Buddy seats or tandem riding is prohibited (1 horse = 1 rider).
Barricade and Traffic Volunteers
Direct non-parade traffic around the staging area and help parade entries find their staging lot. Most positions are located around the perimeter and within the staging area (Capitol Complex). Volunteers should be prepared to handle a rush of traffic and questions prior to the parade, then slowing when the parade starts. Time requirement: 4:00 p.m. to approximately 8:00 p.m.
Check in at the Lucas Building starting at 4:00 p.m. and report to your assigned barricade by 4:45 p.m. Once at your barricade, please do not leave without a backup person in place. Use a communications person or send someone to find a Parade Official if you need help.
- Keep the staging area safe by limiting vehicle access to only those that will travel down the parade route. The exception to this is a trailer that is hauling the entry (horses, ATVs, antique tractors, bicycles, etc.).
- There may be a few Capitol Complex employees who will need to be let out of the staging area. Be courteous and let them out of the area promptly.
- Be prepared to give directions to non-parade traffic to help them navigate out of/around the staging area.
- Be prepared to set up and take down your barricade when arriving and leaving.
- Barricades must be staffed. An unstaffed barricade is useless! Do not leave your barricade until a Parade Official dismisses you.
- Be helpful and non-confrontational. Most people have somewhere to go and don’t want to be stuck behind parade units. Help them! Be friendly, and politely help them find an alternate route just as you would to a pal or neighbor.
- If you have a hard time stopping traffic or need assistance, ask a radio operator to contact a Parade Official, who will assess the situation and request assistance from a police officer if necessary.
- The staging area boundaries are west of East 14th Street (E 14th remains open to traffic), north of Court Avenue (Court remains open to traffic), south of Des Moines Street (Des Moines remains open to traffic).
Keep spectators off the parade route and on sidewalks or behind barricades, and answer questions from spectators about the parade. This position will require walking and standing throughout the parade. Time requirement: 4:30 p.m. to approximately 9:00 p.m.
Check in at the Lucas Building between 4:00 and 4:45 p.m. and report to your assigned location by 5:30 p.m. Once at your location, please do not leave without a backup person in place. Use a communications person or send someone to find a Parade Official if you need help.
- Volunteers will be assigned a section of the parade route to watch over. You should walk from one end to the other and back, helping to keep the parade units moving and keeping spectators and debris off the parade route.
- You should walk on the edge of the parade route (in the street) — but keep moving so you do not block the view. It is ok to occasionally step off the route to the sidewalk behind the crowd for a short period of time.
- Keep parade units moving. They should not stop unless they are performing at the judges stand or have been stopped by law enforcement to allow cross traffic through.
- Be sure there is some distance between units. If needed, step onto the parade route and ask an entry to pause to allow a safe distance. This is especially important when there is a vehicle following a walking group.
- Keep spectators off the street. Ask children and front row watchers to remain on the curb or sidewalk. Spectators with lawn chairs or strollers should be asked to keep them up on the sidewalk, not sitting down in the gutter or on the street.
- Keep the route clear of debris. If there is anything blocking the route, please remove the debris. If it is too large for you to handle, find a radio operator to call for a Parade Official on a golf cart for assistance.
- Be prepared to answer general questions about the parade. Spectators may inquire about the length of the parade, when the parade starts/ends, how many entries there are, etc.
End of Route/Entrant Dispersion Volunteers
Direct parade entries (vehicles and walkers) off the parade route at the end so they do not stop on the route causing a backup. Volunteers should be prepared for periods with a high volume of entries to keep moving, with intermittent periods with no entries (entries must stop periodically to let traffic cross the parade route downtown). Time requirement: 4:30 – 9:00 p.m.
Check in at the Lucas Building between 4:30 and 4:45 p.m. and report to your assigned location by 5:30 p.m. Once at your location, please do not leave without a backup person in place. Use a communications person or send someone to find a Parade Official if you need help.
Date: Wednesday August 9, 2023
Time: 6:15 p.m. units enter route, 6:30 p.m. first unit arrives at Judges stand.
Location: Downtown Des Moines, Iowa
Staging: Parade entries will stage (line-up) on the Iowa State Capitol Complex. Volunteers will help direct entries to the appropriate lot and help them assemble in the correct order.
Route: The official starting point is Grand Avenue at the corner of Finkbine. Entries will proceed west on Grand Avenue passing the Judges stand at 1st Street/Robert D. Ray Drive, to the ending point at 13th and Grand.
Number of Entries: Each year there are around 150 parade entries. This equates to approximately 530 vehicles, 20 horses and over 3,000 people walking or riding on floats/trailers/vehicles.
Judges Stand & Television: The Judges stand is located at the intersection of Grand Avenue and 1st Street (Robert D. Ray Drive), next to Des Moines City Hall. The parade is filmed by IPTV Channel 11.
Parking & Vehicle Access:
Volunteer Parking: Lot volunteers may park their vehicle in the lot where they have been assigned. Barricade volunteers and route volunteers may park on a side street near their assigned location.
Parade Participant Parking: Only vehicles that will be traveling down the parade route with an official parade entry number card are allowed in the staging lots. Parade participants that will be riding with someone else or walking the route may park on a side street north of the Capitol Complex, in Lot 3 at the Judicial Building on Court Avenue, or for convenience they may choose to park their vehicles near the end of the parade route. Those parking at the end of the route may ride the free D-Line shuttle to the capitol complex. The D-Line runs between 17th street and East 6th Street until 6:00 p.m. and makes stops along Grand and Locust Avenues.
Parade Participant Drop-off: Once the barricades are in place, parade participants should be dropped off at the barricades and walk to their staging lot. If parents ask where to pick their child up, advise them the official ending point is between 13th and 15th streets and they can park on a side street near the end of the parade and meet their child near the dispersion area.
Spectator Parking: Spectators may park on any street or public parking lot that is not being used to stage parade entries. A good option is the parking garage at the corner of Pennsylvania and Grand Avenue. It may be helpful to let spectators know the official starting and ending points of the parade (Start at East 6th and Grand, End at 13th and Grand) and encourage them to move west along the route.
Restrooms: Volunteers, participants and spectators will have access to portable restrooms located along the parade route and on the capitol complex. The capitol building and other state buildings will not be open. (Volunteers may use the restroom while they are in the Lucas Building for check in).
Dispersion: The parade will end at 13th Street and Grand Avenue (near the Des Moines Public Library and Pappajohn Sculpture Garden). A drink station is provided for school groups, dance groups, marching bands, drum lines, etc. near the Sculpture Garden.
On Capitol Complex Call: 515-281-5608
Iowa State Patrol Post 16 serves as first responder on the Capitol Complex. If you need immediate medical or law enforcement assistance, call 515-281-5608 and tell them you are a volunteer with the Iowa State Fair Parade and your location on the capitol grounds. They will dispatch the appropriate responders.
Along Parade Route Call: 911
Along the parade route, the City of Des Moines has jurisdiction. If you need medical assistance call 911. If you need law enforcement assistance that is a non-emergency, locate a Des Moines police officer who is directing traffic, or an amateur radio operators (wearing safety vests for easy identification) and ask them to radio a Parade Official for assistance.
Chain of Information: Volunteers should relay information and/or questions to one of the Parade Officials (wearing bright blue t-shirts). In the event a Parade Official cannot be located, find the nearest radio operator and ask them to relay the information to the Parade Chair. The Chair will then determine who the information should be passed on to.
Weather and Cancellation: The parade will go on, rain or shine. The success of the parade is based on the commitment and participation of all volunteers and units. In cases of extreme weather, the Committee will be in contact with law enforcement officials and pass information on to volunteers as it is available.
Parade Day Schedule:
4:00-4:45 p.m.: Volunteer check-in at the Lucas Building.
4:45 p.m.: Volunteers who are assigned to a staging lot or barricades should be in place.
5:00 p.m.: Parade entries begin arriving.
5:30 p.m.: Volunteers assigned to the parade route or dispersion need to be in place.
6:15 p.m.: Entries start moving onto the parade route.
6:30 p.m.: First entries arrive at the judges stand.
Additional Information: The Committee will relay changes or information updates via email from firstname.lastname@example.org.
Parade Participant Rules
Please help make this a safe and fun Iowa State Fair Parade. With more than 60,000 estimated spectators, including many children, lined up along the route, please set a good example and help us ensure continued use of the State Capitol Complex and city streets. Failure to observe parade rules may result in you, your group, business or organization being denied participation in future Iowa State Fair parades!
- No throwing or handing out candy, water balloons, brochures, stickers, samples, or other promotional materials from any entry or along the route by walkers.
- The Capitol Grounds and the Parade route are public grounds, and consumption of alcoholic beverages is AGAINST THE LAW! If a participant is spotted or suspected of consuming alcohol, the police will be notified; the entire entry will be escorted from the Parade and may not be allowed to participate in the future.
- Entries with animals are responsible for cleaning their area before leaving. Failure to clean up after animals may result in the individual or entry being denied participation in future parades.
- Parade participants riding all-terrain/off-highway vehicles (ATVs/OHVs), motorcycles, bicycles and similar vehicles are encouraged to wear proper safety gear, including helmets.
- No extra riders are allowed on tractors or horses.
- Pick up! Trash receptacles will be provided in all lots and surrounding areas. Parade Officials and volunteers carry extra garbage bags. Please request them as needed.
- Large animals (horses, oxen, etc.) and vehicles are forbidden on the grass.
- Parking on grass is prohibited. Violators will be ticketed or towed.
- No other stopping along the parade route unless directed by a parade official or law enforcement officer. Performance units will be allowed to stop in front of the judges stand for up to one (1) minute.
- No entrant/vehicle will be permitted into the parade staging area without a number. This number should be displayed in the front left-hand (driver) side of the vehicle.
- “Walking” entries, or entries led by walkers (such as carrying a banner) should have one of the participants at the lead of their group wear their number or place it on their banner (even if a vehicle follows the walkers) to help the judges quickly identify their group.
In addition to the Parade Participant Rules, the following applies for Horse Entries:
- No horses are to leave the staging lot and ride around the capitol grounds.
- Horses are not permitted on the grass!
- No riders under the age of 8.
- All riders ages 8-15 are required to wear a helmet.
- Buddy seats or tandem riding is prohibited (1 horse = 1 rider).
- No stallions.
- All horses/riders must have an entry number visibly displayed.
- All trailers must be driven down the parade route immediately behind the entry. Shortly after the horse entries go down the parade route, all streets will reopen to vehicle traffic; therefore no horses are to be ridden back to the staging lot after the parade.
- Each rider/group is responsible for cleaning up after their own horse(s) in the staging lot. Failure to clean up after animals may result in the individual or entry being denied participation in future parades.