The Fort Dodge community is once again planning to welcome college students back to town with a downtown celebration.
The fourth annual Welcome Back Bash will take place along Central Avenue between Eighth and Ninth streets on Sept. 5 beginning at 7 p.m. and is designed as a way to bring students from the Iowa Central Community College and La'James International College campuses together at a central location to see what the community has to offer them.
"The goal of the whole event is to invite the students downtown so they know what amenities are available to them and welcome them back to campus"said Dawn Larson, a business affairs specialist for the city of Fort Dodge. "We invite the downtown businesses to come set up; it enhances the downtown viability."
Since it's beginning in 2009, the event has outgrown its original location inside of Olde Boston's Restaurant & Pub. It moved outdoors in 2011.
"We had 350 registration sheets last year and ran out of them," Larson said. "We estimate there were 450 students that came out and we'd expect it to be even bigger this year."
This year, there will be two registration tables at the Eighth and Ninth Street entrances to the event and a display of businesses along the street. A DJ will provide music for dancing on the east end of the block at Central Avenue and North Ninth Street.
Each registered student will receive a passport to be stamped at each business location and those who return with a stamp from each stop will be entered into a prize drawing.
Food, drinks and games will also be available throughout the evening.
Sara Condon, Iowa Central director of enrollment management, said the Welcome Back Bash has been a popular event among Iowa Central Students.
"We heard great things from the students last year," said Condon. "It's a great event to introduce our students to downtown. We appreciate the city offering this opportunity to our students."
"There will be lots of everything for everyone; it's a great collaborative effort between the downtown businesses, the city, the police, the Growth Alliance, Iowa Central, Olde Boston's and La'James," said Larson. "We're looking forward to Sept. 5."