Iowans love fire trucks, hamburgers and horses.
Put all three of them in the Indianola Fareway parking lot on a Thursday afternoon and you end up with 1,000 people, more than 600 hamburgers, and traffic backed up for blocks waiting to get a glimpse of the famed Clydesdale horses.
“It was exciting for us,” said Jeremy Dean, the new grocery manager who arrived just weeks before planning started for the event. “We were just trying to make it as big as possible for the community.”
And it was big. Meat manager Jay Kern said he had 600 hamburgers prepared — and wasn’t sure it was enough.
“We planned big and hoped for big and it's been a great turnout,” he said. “But the support for the police and the fire department tied together with the Clydesdale, I think this is fantastic.”
People who ate at the event were asked to donate $5 for their hamburger, chips and drink, but many were stopping by the table to drop extra money in the bucket or offering a donation without taking food.
The eight Clydesdale are one of three teams of the giant horses that travel the United States, said Niki Herbold with Anheuser Busch.
“We’re very lucky to have the Clydesdales coming to Des Moines and I reached out to Fareway and said we’d like to have them go to a store,” she said. “And Jeremy was fabulous and said he’d like to work with us. It was a wonderful tie-in with the fire department and the beef producers and raising money for the first responders.”
The team of horses is based out of St. Louis, Mo., Herbold said, and travels primarily in the Midwest while another team travels the west and a third stays in the east. Each team travels about 300 days a year, she said.
The Clydesdales weren’t the only attraction, though. Members of the Indianola Fire Department showed off their new ladder truck which formally went into service on Friday, and the Indianola Police Department was there, directing traffic, and sporting their new patches to support the Pink Tractor Foundation.
Kern and Dean both cited help from a number of organizations that helped organize the event, including Frito-Lay, Pepsi, McCoy TrueValue Hardware and the Warren County Fair, which provided parking.
“It’s a really great for the community,” said spectator Barb Gould of Indianola. “It’s fun, a good community thing that pulls people together.”