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9 Annual Must-Attend Events and Festivals in Ames

The Heart of Iowa features plenty of fun festivities. Be sure to add these to your list.

By Livability on June 13, 2022

Fireworks for festivals feature in Iowa.
iStock.com/Tomwang112

If you’re looking for fun things to do in Ames, you don’t have to look far. There are also plenty of events and festivals in Ames and the Heart of Iowa that will keep your weekends busy. Ready to have fun?

1. Slater Fourth of July Festival

Fourth of July enthusiasts, including some from foreign countries, travel to the small community of Slater, IA, to celebrate Independence Day. About 5,000 people annually make the voyage to this city of 1,500 residents to attend early events such as a Kiwanis Club pancake breakfast followed by a classic holiday parade of more than 100 entries. Several daytime activities take place at Nelson Park, and the day culminates with a 10 p.m. fireworks extravaganza at Grimm Park.

2. Pufferbilly Days in Boone, IA

Every August, this three-day festival, which is one of the largest in Iowa, celebrates the town’s rich railroad history. Events include a parade, classic car show, mud volleyball, a spike-driving contest, model train show, a carnival, and other family fun activities.

3. Lincoln Highway Days in Nevada, IA

Nevada plays host to the annual Lincoln Highway Days festival in late August. Activities include a 5K walk/run, Main Street block party, beer garden, parade, antique tractor show, carnival rides and a rodeo at Story County Fairgrounds.

4. Huxley Prairie Fest

Late August ushers in the annual Huxley Prairie Festival, which the city has hosted since 1994. The weekend celebration includes a parade, sand volleyball tournament, food vendors, a beer tent, live music, inflatables and a petting zoo. A major highlight is a Saturday night fireworks show. Most of the activities take place at Railroad Park and Centennial Park.

5. Story City Scandinavian Days

Mark your calendars in July for the annual Story City Scandinavian Days celebration. Highlights include a Scandi 5K walk/run, parade, live music, petting zoo and fireworks show. The Story City Antique Carousel is a major featured attraction at the celebration, and several other events are scheduled at North Park.

6. Colo Crossroads Festival

Hickory Grove Park serves as ground zero for the annual Colo Crossroads Festival that takes place every July. The festival runs from 7:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., and activities include a parade, fun run, inflatables, dunk tank, prince and princess contest, sandcastle contest, food booths and live music.

7. Maxwell Old Settlers

Maxwell is known for its annual Old Settlers celebration that takes place on the first full weekend of August. Events include a parade, tractor pulls, live music and food vendors. A highlight is the sanctioned Maxwell Old Settlers Rodeo with nighttime barrel racing, bull riding, calf roping, steer wrestling and more.

8. Ames Octogon Art Festival

For more than 50 years, the Octagon Art Festival in downtown Ames has showcased the talents of about 80 juried artists from throughout the Midwest. The September event draws thousands of art enthusiasts to the city, and admission is free. Besides artists, also in attendance are musicians, food trucks and a Chalk the Block contest.

9. Zearing Days Celebration

For three days every late July, a Zearing Days Celebration descends upon City Park with activities like a kids carnival, 5K run/fitness walk, arts and craft vendors, tractor pulls and live music. Other highlights include a car and truck show, street dance and fireworks display.

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