DES MOINES, Iowa – The Drake Relays bring in hundreds of thousands of visitors to the metro. Before the big event, local businesses are preparing.
Not having the Relays last year was a huge loss for businesses like Peggy’s and Fong’s Pizza on Forest Avenue near campus. This year, both places are excited to welcome back the event.
“It’s important to the alumni. It’s important to the students and the athletes. People come from all over the country to come to Peggy’s and Drake Relays,” Annie Baldwin, owner of Peggy’s, said. “We weren’t able to have it last year due to COVID and this year we’ll see. We don’t know if it’ll be a big crowd but we’ll be able to handle it and I think we’ll be good at managing it this year too.”
Baldwin says her staff is still discussing precautions, but they know there will be a limited number of people both inside and outside the bar. She says Peggy’s has been around since 1935, and it’s a go-to spot for people of all ages.
“People come back, they meet, you know Friday is a big alumni day and if you come here at three o’clock on Friday you know you’re going to see a bunch of people that you went to school with,” Baldwin said. “And that’s kind of the warm feeling I have and then the students develop those traditions as well and know that they always have a place to come back to and call home during Relays.”
Next door at Fong’s Pizza, employees have only experienced one Drake Relays at this location. And turns out, it was the busiest week they’ve ever had. District Manager Tony Konecne said there is a mask mandate in place as well as extra sanitation. While Fong’s isn’t exactly sure what to expect this year, they’re looking forward to what’s ahead.
“My staff and customers at all five locations are just really excited to kind of start to feel a sense of normalcy again,” Konecne said. “[We’re] still taking precautions and being careful but I think everybody, especially as patios open back up, are starting to feel a lot more comfortable and having a little sense of just regular life again.”
The Drake Relays run from Wednesday, April 21 to Saturday, April 24.