West Des Moines Opens Up New Amphitheater Thursday for Illumifest

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WEST DES MOINES, Iowa — The metro’s newest amphitheater is now open and is preparing for its first big event Thursday night. The Jamie Hurd Amphitheater is complete and standing next to the city hall on the West Des Moines campus after almost a year of construction.

“We had the groundbreaking ceremony for the amphitheater back in last October and it’s exciting to think that in less than a year we have this now,” Sally Ortgies, West Des Moines Parks and Recreation Director said.

It’s the second element of the city’s Five Waters project to transform its parks. The first project was the Raccoon River Park Boathouse that opened this summer.

“It’s exciting for us as a city especially in light of the whole COVID-19 situation that as a government, we are still out building quality of life projects to make available for the citizens, visitors and businesses that are here,” West Des Moines Mayor Steven Gaer.

On Wednesday night the city held a private dedication and ribbon-cutting ceremony. The $2.4 million open-air venue is now open for a wide variety of events, from concerts, outdoor movies, theatrical performances, even private events like weddings. It can seat up to 2,000 people in the lawn overlooking the city campus pond.

“I walked in and I told somebody ‘I kind of feel like I’m out of town,'” Mayor Gaer said. “It’s such a beautiful setting. We thought it would be nice, but actually, when you get here and can experience it, it turned out even more lovely than I imagined. We are very excited about it and know people will be able to enjoy it.”

It was funded by the Local Option Sales and Service Tax (LOSST), plus donations from Microsoft and Richard and Linda Hurd.

The facility is named in honor of their daughter, Jamie Hurd, a West Des Moines resident who passed away in October of 2009 at the age of 29 from a lung aneurysm after successfully battling stage 4 Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.

“It’s inspiring. Our daughter Jamie was very much into music and the arts and this is really something she would’ve enjoyed,” Richard Hurd, the President of Hurd Real Estate said. “She just lived a few blocks from here. We used to walk through this whole complex during the summer times so she would’ve loved this and we hope others will enjoy it as much as we do and as she would have.”

The first big event starts Thursday night. The city’s annual Illumifest is now being “revAMPed.” Not only to showcase the new facility, but also due to COVID-19.

It’s a three-evening celebration. It starts on Thursday with A Greater Des Moines Community Band Concert, a public art reveal on the pond, and ice cream.

Details of the other nights of Illumifest and the COVID-19 precautions they are taking are below:

THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 17 – 6:30-8PM

FREE Greater Des Moines Community Band Concert
FREE “Blossoms on the Water” Public Art Reveal
Ice Cream Truck*

SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 19 – 6:30-8:30PM
Pre-registration required here** SOLD OUT

FREE “Faculty Lounge” Concert**
Food Trucks*
FREE Fireworks Display- Sponsored by Sammons Financial  

SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 26 – 6:30-8:30PM
Pre-registration required  here** (Only ONE person per family/party needs to register)

FREE Outdoor Movie (Onward, PG)** 
FREE Lantern Painting*
FREE Balloon Artist Creations*

*All of the above activities will have monitored waiting lines to ensure that social distancing is followed.

**10ft diameter circles will be painted on the amphitheater lawn. Circles will be spaced 6 feet apart. Pre-register in order to guarantee a circle for your group. Each circle will seat up to the equivalent of 4 adults.

Face coverings are strongly recommended.

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