DES MOINES, Iowa — Millions of dollars are spent inside the Iowa State Fair every fair season, but the economic impact extends beyond the fairgrounds.
Homeowners and organizations in east Des Moines often transform their property into a State Fair parking lot when the fair is active. That includes Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 738, located on the corner of Dean Avenue and E. 28th Street.
“This is one of our big moneymakers for the year,” said Darnell Jones of VFW Post 738. “We’re really looking forward to the cars. We can’t thank the state enough for bringing the fair back.”
Jones estimates the VFW lot has room for 300 cars every day, and the lot often fills up to capacity. Since the VFW charges $5 per car, the organization stands to make thousands of dollars during the fair.
Jones said this fair season is especially crucial because their trademark breakfast fundraisers are on hold. The parking revenue goes directly into yearly operational costs, and Jones said many parkers chose their lot because of their mission to help veterans.
“Some people give a little bit more than $5 because they really appreciate what we’re trying to do in the community,” Jones said. “I can’t really put a count on how much we get, but I can say it helps us serve the community.”
Navy veteran Jeff Wilson, who visited the Iowa State Fair from Alabama, is among those who parked at the VFW lot for reasons more than convenience.
“As we got here and saw the VFW sign, I said, ‘If we have to walk a little ways, that’s fine,'” Wilson said. “‘Let’s give them money where it’s needed.'”