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11 things to do this weekend in Des Moines include 80/35, Ankeny Summerfest, IndyCar concerts



11 things to do this weekend in Des Moines include 80/35, Ankeny Summerfest, IndyCar concerts

If you want to stay on top of all the fun things to do in Des Moines, sign up for Off Hours, your free weekly newsletter from the Des Moines Register that showcases all things fun you can do in central Iowa. Recently, we’ve written about karaoke barswhere to go thriftingwhere to buy craftsvegan restaurantsgluten-free options, the Amana Colonies and where to buy plants. If you sign up for our newsletter, you get a whole list of fun places to go, things to do, what to eat, and more early Thursday morning in your inbox.

‘El Circo’

Thursday morning: Grab the kids and head to Union Park, 725 Thompson Ave., Des Moines, at 10 a.m. for “El Circo,” a free marionette show brought to the metro by Des Moines Performing Arts. This show, performed in Spanish, features Budineto the lion, Ariadna the tight-rope walker, Ursus the weightlifter, a clown, a trapeze artist, and of course the circus band. The show makes a stop at Fairmeadows Park at 543 22nd St., West Des Moines, for a performance in English at 6:30 p.m. Additional shows run through the weekend.

Pam Tillis

Thursday night: Pam Tillis calls country music legend Mel Tillis her father and multi-media artist Doris Tillis her mother. Tillis brings her country, R&B, bluegrass, and rock songs to Hoyt Sherman Place, 1501 Woodland Ave., Des Moines, for an 8 p.m. show. Some of her big hits include “Shake the Sugar Tree,” “Mi Vida Loca,” “When You Walk In The Room,” “In Between Dances,” “Don’t Tell Me What To Do,” and her signature song, “Maybe It Was Memphis.” Tickets start at $39.

Edgar Allan Poe speakeasy

Thursday night: “Once upon a midnight dreary…” If you’re in an eerie mood, make an appointment at the Edgar Allan Poe speakeasy, where Poe historians will tell four of his stories on the stage that are paired with four classic cocktails. Tickets for the 10 p.m. show at the Grand Hall at Temple Theater, 1011 Locust St., Des Moines, remain at $48 per person, with additional shows Friday and Saturday nights. Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”

More: No need to go to a kingdom by the sea. An Edgar Allan Poe Speakeasy in coming to Des Moines.


Friday afternoon: Stop by the Des Moines Art Center, 4700 Grand Ave., Des Moines, to wander through “Coexist,” a new exhibit that “delves into the rich, complicated relationship between humanity and nature, one based on both conflict and interdependence, revealing the connection between environmental activism and art.” “Coexist” features art from the Art Center’s permanent collections that illustrate the fates of nature and humanity. The museum is open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Fridays, and the exhibit stays up through Sept. 15.

OK Go and Killer Mike at 80/35

Friday afternoon: The 80/35 Music Festival returns, but moves to Water Works Park, 2201 George Flagg Pkwy., Des Moines, kicking off with Quad Cities favorite Tripmaster Monkey reuniting for a 4:30 p.m. show. Alt-rockers OK Go of “Here It Goes Again” and “Upside Down & Inside Out” fame headline the Friday show at 9 p.m. on the Hy-Vee Main Stage. The festival continues on Saturday starting at noon with rapper and activist Killer Mike headlining at 9 p.m. Other artists like Hiatus Kaiyote, Dreamer Isioma, Bully, SUSTO, Foxy Shazam, Winona Fighter and Durry will perform throughout the weekend on multiple stages. Find the whole lineup online at

Ankeny SummerFest

Friday evening: The whole family can have fun at Ankeny SummerFest, taking over the District at Prairie Trail and Uptown Ankeny. The event includes a family fun night on Friday at 4 p.m. with water games, superheroes and more, parade at 9 a.m. Saturday, carnival, live music, more than 24 food vendors, and then ends with a fireworks show at Promenade Park at 9:30 p.m. Sunday.

More: When is Ankeny SummerFest 2024? Find out carnival times, bands, parade route, parking info

Jerome Gillespie

Friday night: Jam with drummer Jerome Gillespie when he takes the stage at Noce, 1326 Walnut St., Des Moines, for a 7 p.m. show. The Houston-born and raised musician brings together various experimental elements from across genres to create jazz-centered fusions. Tickets start at $27.44.

‘School of Rock’

Friday night: Can Dewey Finn turn a group of straight-A students who are classically trained in music at a prep school into rockers who can win a Battle of the Bands? The substitute teacher who was kicked out of his own band hopes to find out. “School of Rock” takes the stage at the Des Moines Community Playhouse, 831 42nd St., Des Moines, at 7:30 p.m. Tickets start at $29. The show continues on Wednesdays through Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. through July 28.

More: Rock climbing, boat races, wildlife and more kid-friendly summer adventures in Des Moines

Bondurant Sidewalk Chalk Festival

Saturday morning: Stop by the Bondurant Sidewalk Chalk Festival at 2 Main St. S.E., Bondurant, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. to see artists of all ages create their own sidewalk chalk masterpiece. Each artist receives a 3-foot by 3-foot section of sidewalk along the Chichaqua Valley Trail near the Bondurant Regional Trailhead Depot. Anyone can sign up to draw, and organizers suggest bringing your own chalk that will wear off.

Luke Combs

Saturday afternoon: Kicking off Hy-Vee IndyCar Race Weekend is country star and CMA Entertainer of the Year winner Luke Combs. His newest album, “Gettin’ Old,” includes his remake of Tracy Chapman’s “Fast Car,” which earned Combs his seventh Grammy Award nomination. “The Kind of Love We Make” and “Beer Never Broke My Heart” are among his catalog of hits. See Combs perform before the first NTT IndyCar Series race of the doubleheader weekend at the Iowa Speedway, 3333 Rusty Wallace Drive, Newton. Tickets start at $85 at Country star Eric Church performs after the race. The singer last performed in Des Moines at the Iowa State Fair in 2023. Known for chart toppers “Springsteen” and “Drink In My Hand,” Church’s State Fair show was the second-most-attended concert in recent history with 17,283 tickets sold, just 37 fewer than record-holder Chris Stapleton’s 17,320 in 2021.

‘American Apollo’

Saturday night: The Des Moines Metro Opera debuts “American Apollo,” a production that “gives voice to a pivotal figure in American art: Thomas Eugene McKeller, a Black hotel worker who served as model and muse for famous portraitist John Singer Sargent.” This production that takes place at the Blank Performing Arts Center, 513 N. D St., Indianola, is sold out, but tickets for the July 18 show at 7:30 p.m. start at $50.

More: ‘American Apollo’ has its world premiere at the Des Moines Metro Opera.

Corndog Kickoff

Saturday night: Get ready for the Iowa State Fair during the 2024 Corndog Kickoff at the Fairgrounds, 3000 Grand Ave., Des Moines, from 6:30 to 10 p.m. For $125, bid on 200 silent auction packages, hear live entertainment, and graze on fair foods during the event that raises funds to renovation the Fairgrounds. The Blue Ribbon Foundation expects nearly 2,200 people at the event that has raised a total of $8 million toward Fairgrounds renovations. Tickets include a complimentary photo, food and drink, fireworks, Sky Glider rides and more. Buy tickets at the doors of the Varied Industries Building starting at 5:30 p.m.

Post Malone

Sunday afternoon: Post Malone brings his blend of R&B, hip hop and pop following the final IndyCar Series race of the weekend at his first show in central Iowa. The eight-time Grammy nominee performs all of the instruments on his current self-titled album that melds pop, hip hop and R&B. Expect to hear songs such as “Circles,” “I Like You” and “Chemical.” Grammy-nominated star Kelsea Ballerini, known for her songs “This Feeling” and “I Quit Drinking” opens for Malone. See both perform after the second NTT IndyCar Series race of the doubleheader weekend at the Iowa Speedway, 3333 Rusty Wallace Drive, Newton. Tickets start at $85 at

More: IndyCar race lands a top country singer, R&B and hip hop star to bookend the Iowa 2024 races

Susan Stapleton is the entertainment editor and dining reporter at The Des Moines Register. You can reach out to her on FacebookTwitter, or Instagram, or drop her a line at

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