MAR 15, 2016

This whole NCAA thing coming to town? It's pretty hot stuff, even for nonfans. 

You can join in the fun of the NCAA basketball tournament coming to town even if don't have a ticket or understand the dark science of bracketology.

It does help to know that some of the country's best college basketball teams and their fans will be in town for games Thursday and Saturday. How big is that? Des Moines' Friendly Sons of St. Patrick have postponed the festive holiday parade to Friday. That's kind of a big deal.

dsm's sports desk has us strangely excited by the Hoops and Hops Party Headquarters on Cowles Commons from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily, Thursday through Saturday. It's fun and free to attend, thanks to a bevy of local sponsors.

Ten food trucks will be plying their tasty wares, as will the Iowa Craft Beer Tent, with television coverage of the early tournament games. They'll have two compact basketball courts on which to show your stuff (if you're among those who have "stuff"). Or take a shot at the free-throw contest, a fundraiser for Big Brothers Big Sisters. Family fun and games for younger kids are being planned as well.
Time to start thinking about projects for the wonderful warm weather. Here are some well-planned spring home improvements you should tackle NOW to enhance your summer! ... Read More »
Ben Nelson, wine director at Splash Seafood Bar & Grill, hosts monthly wine tastings. 


By Wini Moranville

If you, like me, didn't get out of town for spring break, take heart: Here are three great ways to indulge yourself with some stay-cation luxuries:
  • Iowa Restaurant Association's Culinary Affair, April 3: Enjoy seven courses from seven different chefs, including George Formaro (Centro et al.), George Migliero (G. Migs), Lynn Pritchard (Table 128), Mike and Lisa LaValle (Embassy Club and Trellis), and others. The event, a benefit for the ProStart program, which helps high school students gain skills in the food service industry, is held at the sky-high Des Moines Embassy Club at the Ruan Center. BTW: I attended last year's event at Embassy Club West and loved every bite. The event starts at 6:30 p.m.; $125 per person. Find details and get tickets at
  • Taste wine with a certified sommelier: On the last Tuesday of every month, Splash Seafood Bar & Grill's wine director, Ben Nelson, hosts his Wine Education Series. Each month focuses on a specific region, pairing wines with light appetizers created by Splash chef Dominic Ianarelli. Upcoming regions to be covered include Piedmont in March, Burgundy in April and Germany/Austria in May. P.S.: I always love the classy but low-key way Nelson talks about wine. He probably knows immensely more than the rest of us, but he'll never make a point of pointing that out. More details at
  • Vom Fass Fourth Birthday Celebration: From March 30 to April 2, this olive oil, vinegar and spirits emporium will be celebrating four years at the Shops of Roosevelt in Des Moines, offering samples of recipes that highlight a different focus each day. The April 1 "Boozy Sundaes" especially caught my eye (think raspberry sorbet drizzled with Vom Fass Hazelnut Liqueur). Head to the website for more information:
    Wini Moranville covers food and dining for dsm. Follow her at All Things Food - DSM Wini Moranville.  
Nate Staniforth presents a style of magic that challenges the minds of his audience. 

Iowa City's Nate Staniforth is gaining international fans by focusing on the wonder of magic well played, without the clichéd trappings of theatrical capes and top hats full of bunnies.

Staniforth, an Ames native, will perform his more intellectual magic at the Temple Theater on the next three Wednesdays: 7:30 p.m. tomorrow, plus March 23 and March 30. It's the beginning of an 80-show national tour.

Some of us who are magic buffs thoroughly enjoyed a preview of his show last week, including his engaging style of baffling us with deft misdirection and sleight of hand. Want a sample? Visit Want a ticket? Visit the Des Moines Performing Arts site here. They're $30.50, including a service fee.
As bright and lively as ever, "Riverdance" returns to Des Moines Friday through Sunday. 

Want to celebrate the Emerald Isle with a wee dram more culture than you can find in a pint of green beer? More entertainment might be found in that peripatetic show "Riverdance," which hasn't lost a step in 20 years. And if you like romance, consider this: "Riverdance" has had 11,000 performances since it kicked off in 1995. Since then, the cast has produced 88 marriages and 60 babies. Dancers will be kicking up their heels and other body parts Friday through Sunday, March 18-20,  at the Des Moines Civic Center. Times and prices vary; get the details here.   
Sally Hatfield Clubb, Drake University athletic director, will be honored as "visionary woman" of 2016 at the Young Women's Resource Center's gala April 9. 

Tickets are now available for the Young Women's Resource Center's 17th annual Sit On It! gala, to be held April 9.

The event begins with a cocktail hour and silent auction at 5:30 p.m., followed by a dinner and program, with a live auction of one-of-a-kind items to follow. Hurley & Dancers will provide entertainment. In addition, Sally Hatfield Clubb, Drake University's athletic director, will be honored.

Tickets are $125 ($65 for age 35 and younger) or $1,000 for tables of 10 through the event's website.

From literary classics to gardening guides, find a lifetime of reading at the book sale.


Planned Parenthood of the Heartland is seeking volunteers for its book sale April 7-11 at the Iowa State Fairgrounds. One of the largest nonprofit book sales in the nation, the event is run by hundreds of volunteers who unbox books and assist customers, among other duties.

"We always look forward to seeing the faces, both new and familiar, who make this event a thriving success," says Laurie Sloterdyk, stewardship and events manager at Planned Parenthood.

Volunteers must be at least 14 years of age, and those under 18 need signed permission from a guardian. Helping doesn't go unrewarded: books are free on Volunteer Appreciation Night, April 11.

Proceeds from the event support the agency's education and outreach efforts. For sale hours, volunteer info and other details, visit or call 515-235-0414.

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