Ingersoll Live will return for an 18th year of bringing neighbors together this summer

Ingersoll Live, courtesy of The Avenues Facebook page

Starting in just a parking lot 18 years ago, Ingersoll Live is now an annual block party bringing Des Moines’ Ingersoll Avenue neighbors together to relish in a district of fine dining, businesses, bars and family fun.

The Avenues, a nonprofit on Ingersoll and Grand, will present Ingersoll Live again on Aug. 27, and is expecting to hit pre-COVID-19 attendance levels of about 15,000 people. Last year, after canceling in 2020, The Avenues estimated 10,000 people attended the free, daylong event.

As always, the Isiserettes are kicking off the event to set the momentum for the day with their powerful, upbeat, explosive drums from the drill team and high-energy majorette dancing (also referred to as marching and pageantry).

Isiserettes performing at 2021 Ingersoll Live, courtesy of The Avenues Facebook page

“Having the Isiserettes always makes the event better. They have so much energy and they get the crowd excited,” Lauren Kollauf, the executive director for The Avenues, said.

“We are a designated cultural and entertainment district from the State of Iowa. So, we really want to highlight the arts and culture element in the event this year.”

Other entertainers include June Bugs and The Dueling Pianos on the West stage, and the Faculty Lounge and Punching Panda on the East stage.

The West and East stage are the biggest stages, and a smaller third stage, the Community stage, will be graced with more local talent. This stage was a new addition last year, and hosted acts like Girls Rock and The Gay Men’s Chorus. This year it will see the June Bugs, a new four-woman Des Moines cover band whose song selection is either written by women or performed by women. Another act, the Dueling Pianos, likes to involve the crowd, and works comedy skits, dance and video into their performances.

The Faculty Lounge, courtesy of The Avenues

Named one of Des Moines’ best bands in Cityview’s Best Of Des Moines and “the official funk band of Iowa” by former Gov. Chet Culver, the Faculty Lounge is coming back to Ingersoll Live. The old-school funk band is made of past or current teachers in the Des Moines area.

The night will end with the Punching Pandas. They are a party band covering all kinds of music, as long as it’s high energy. They’ve played songs from Green Day, Bruno Mars, Maroon 5 and more. Want to hear your favorite song? Just shout it out to them and they just might play it.

Kids will also have an area just for them with bouncy houses, face painting, balloon art and other child-friendly activities.

Adults can join the kids with a classic childhood game of hopscotch — but not the hopscotch most of us grew up with. Ingersoll Live is bringing a 3D chalk artist transform the board.

The Avenues “provides economic development, marketing & promotion, enhanced maintenance and beautification of this commercial, cultural and residential district located in the historical heart of Des Moines, Iowa,” according to the nonprofit. Originally called Restoration Ingersoll, The Avenues began 24 years ago with a group of neighbors that sought to beautify Ingersoll, led by Soozie McBroom.

McBroom started with a pilot project that aspired to make Ingersoll Avenue and Grand Avenue a more people-friendly area through streetscaping. Sidewalks were extended, benches added and plants beautified the street. Other adjustments over the years included raised bike lanes, planters, trash cans on Ingersoll, and, of course, Ingersoll Live.

“This is the 18th year we’ve had Ingersoll Live, which is pretty impressive,” Kollauf said. “Ingersoll Live is the opportunity for neighbors to come together … to really celebrate our community and also support the local organizations and the local businesses that make Ingersoll so special, especially with all of the construction that we [have] going on our street this year.”

Giant sized checkers at Ingersoll Live, courtesy of The Avenues Facebook page

She pointed to the multiple construction sites on Ingersoll Avenue as a sign of more good change to come.

“We just want to come together to celebrate all of the progress that we’ve made on our corridor and the bright future that we have ahead of us,” Kollauf said.

The annual block party serves to both enhance the communities and embody its qualities.

“In addition to this being my job, I am also a neighbor,” Kollauf explained. “I live in this neighborhood. So, every summer, I can hear Ingersoll [Live] happening from house and my husband and I walk up there … All of your neighbors are there. You run into so many familiar faces. You see all of your favorite businesses and local organizations. You see people having fun and dancing and it’s just a really great opportunity to meet your neighbors, feel a part of your community and celebrate this great neighborhood we get to call home.”

End your summer with free fun in Des Moines entertainment and cultural district from The Avenues of Ingersoll and Grand! Drinks and food will be available for purchase.

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