Van Meter's Fan Fest set to kick off new school year on Aug. 19

Megan Teske, Correspondent
Special to Dallas County News
Van Meter Activities Director Rick Roberts addresses the crowd during Fan Fest in 2020. The 2022 event is set for Friday, Aug. 19.

As summer winds down and the start of the school year and fall sports draws nearer, Van Meter is getting ready for Fan Fest.

Fan Fest, taking place Aug. 19, is a yearly event that acts as a kickoff to the school year where the Van Meter community can come out and support Van Meter athletics.

The Van Meter Athletic Booster Club hosts the event and it entails football and volleyball scrimmages, an introduction of the cross country teams, a parade of athletes, food trucks, a silent auction and more.

Rick Roberts, Van Meter athletic director, said his role as AD will be trying to aid the booster club in getting the kickoff going, as the club does a great job of raising funds for the athletic department.

Wendy Kelly, the president of the Van Meter Athletic Booster Club, said she expects to have about 400 to 500 people in attendance and Fan Fest is a good time for everyone to come back together after the summer.

“The great thing about it [is], some of our families haven’t seen each other all summer or since baseball or even since track season,” Kelly said.

She added that it’s also a good chance for new community members to get to know people and get a taste of the community, which she said is one of the best things about Van Meter.

Various auction items on display during the 2020 Van Meter Fan Fest.

The silent auction at the event is an opportunity for the booster club to raise money for the Van Meter athletic department, helping support the needs of the teams.

Kelly said in the past, the booster club has used the money on a new scoreboard, uniforms, equipment, expenses for state or other things like that.

“Families will do ideas, experiences, we’ve had anything from a half of a beef donated to a live concert to hayrack rides,” Kelly said of silent auction items. “But also to some really cool things from gift certificates and items that people have made… they’re all donations by members of our community.”

Along with local businesses, businesses from the surrounding Des Moines and West Des Moines area also donate items to bid on for the silent auction, Kelly said.

One of the silent auction item on display during the 2020 Fan Fest event in Van Meter.

After the scrimmages are done, the Parade of Athletes takes place, which is where all students grades K-12 walk around the track with their class and take a class photo at the end.

Kelly said the parade is a chance to see all the kids and how they grew up together.

“By the time you get to the seniors, a lot of these kids have been in these pictures for 10, 15 years,” Kelly said. “And if you go into the school, right by Mr. Roberts’, our athletic director’s office, there is a picture with them going way back.”

While there are many things to do at Fan Fest, Kelly said her favorite part of the event is seeing the community come together and added how it’s always great seeing the fundraising success.

Roberts had the same sentiment and added how it’s good to get the fall teams back on the field as well.

After a successful 2021-22 school year that saw Van Meter win multiple state titles, Roberts said excitement is brewing for the upcoming year.

While he said they’ll talk a bit about the success of the past year at Fan Fest, he noted the event is more about kicking off the new year.

“Obviously we had a really, really good year in ‘21, ‘22, each year is different, just like I tell my coaches, treat each year like it’s brand new because it is,” Roberts said. “You’ve got a different set of kids, you’ve got a different set of situations, circumstances, so we as coaches and administrators have to give our best to every new year, and I’m sure we’ll do that.”