DES MOINES, Iowa — Many fair-goers are noticing a difference so far this Iowa State Fair when it comes to parking, there’s less of it.
A few hundred spots were lost this year with the reconstruction of gate 13, making nearby lots that much more valuable. It doesn’t take long for parking spots at homes and businesses to fill up on the 2800 block of Dean Avenue just southwest of the fairgrounds.
At the local VFW post 738, Iowans can not only park and ride to the fairgrounds but also help out veterans at the same time.
“It helps us pay our bills and we do help veterans,” Barry Archer, the Junior Vice Commander for VFW Post 738 said. “If a vet pulls up and says he needs money for gas or something like that, then we can help them with that. If they need a place to go, if they come up and don’t have the money to go someplace, we help them out and a lot of them appreciate that. The money all stays right here in our post. It doesn’t leave the state of Iowa.”
The demand is high to park at the VFW. They say they start parking cars around 7:00 a.m. and this year are completely full by 8:30 am. They said in their over 20 years of parking cars, this year has been their busiest. Not only are they filling up earlier than ever before, but in the first four days of the fair, they’ve hit a new personal record for money raised. They are charging $5 a spot and turning their lot completely over a few times a day.
This is one of their biggest fundraisers of the year. They use the money to not only help out fellow vets, but they also sponsor local baseball teams and Boy Scouts. This year the scouts are helping them with parking and learning lessons along the way.
“Always help out veterans and other people in need,” Jace Trotter, Boy Scout for Troop 99 said, “Whether or not they’re in need you should just be kind and help and think about everybody else.”
Post 738 is also in charge of the majority of military funeral honors at the Iowa Veterans Cemetary.
Archer says even though their parking service can make for long days, they enjoy helping out all the Iowans.
“I enjoy coming down here because the people you meet, it’s just unbelievable,” Archer said. “You just get to meet a lot of nice people, a lot of good people and a lot of them are veterans and that’s what we all are. We have all served and it helps.”
Not only is every single person parking here helping out veterans but so is the State Fair. Monday is Veterans Day at the fair. Any active and retired military member gets discounted admission and there is a parade down the Grand Concourse at 11:00 a.m.
The VFW lot is located at 2801 Dean Avenue in Des Moines.