In the year 1868, the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad gave rise to a new city in Dallas County, Iowa. That city was called DeSoto.
One-hundred and fifty years later, members of the community, members of the surrounding communities and those who have memories of living in the town in years past came together on Friday and Saturday, June 22-23 to enjoy the City’s Sesquicentennial celebration.
The celebration started with the DeSoto High School Reunion on Friday night and kicked off again with the parade on Saturday morning. The event featured a car show in front of City Hall, family activities, including inflatables, face painting, food vendors and more in Little Bridge Park, a beer garden with live music and eventually fireworks at dusk.
The whole event was planned by a committee, and that committee was headed up by a woman whose family moved to DeSoto 50 years ago and remembers the festivities from DeSoto’s 100th Birthday celebration. Marie Hansen, the chair of the DeSoto Sesquicentennial Committee, was 5 years old when her family moved to DeSoto with her.
Hansen said that her roots are in DeSoto and that’s a part of what has led to her staying in the community, but she also points to the nice community and the convenience of the location with the Des Moines area being so close and easily accessible along the Interstate.
DeSoto may be a small town, but the crowds gathered in droves for the celebration. Hansen said that Patsy Jorgensen Radke, who was doing an art show at the DeSoto Public Library, said that she hadn’t seen that much promotion in DeSoto for a long time.
“That was nice to hear,” Hansen said. “You know, it’s a small, quiet town, but anytime that we can draw people together and create a little bit of enthusiasm and (a) social gathering, bring people back home, that’s always a good thing for everybody.”
Things have certainly changed in DeSoto over the last 150 years. Back then it was the railroad that had DeSoto on the map, but now it is the Interstate that keeps people rolling into town.
“You’ve got to kind of reinvent yourself a little bit,” Hansen said. “Times have changed, the railroad’s not the big driver anymore. So it’s fun to see the growth, it’s fun to have our park look so beautiful for a nice gathering and draw families and friends together to take part in it.”
Hansen expressed the importance to the volunteers and the committee that it took to get the event to come together the way it did.
“We’ve had a lot of volunteers that have come together to coordinate this and put it together and I just hope everybody enjoys the day,” Hansen said. “That’s the main goal of doing all of this.”
Although DeSoto was celebrating its roots on Saturday, Hansen said that she is also looking forward to the City’s future.
“There’s a lot of movement and action going on in DeSoto and a lot of interest with the location, so I’m just looking forward to see what comes to us in the next 50 years,” Hansen said.