Blank Park Zoo
Blank Park Zoo

Open Daily, 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.
$20 adults, $15 children

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Open Daily, 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.
$20 adults, $15 children

View All Rates ›

Introducing the Holmes Foster Event Center

Posted on December 24, 2020 at 4:00 PM by Blog Author

Nestled on 22 acres of land is a quaint, AZA (Association of Zoos and Aquariums) accredited Zoo in the heart of Iowa, and is also now the location of the new Holmes Foster Event Center. As the occasional Zoo attendee might not be aware, Blank Park Zoo is the home to five rental venues located throughout the park. Whether your upcoming event is big or small, outdoors or indoors, casual or formal, BPZ has the right venue for your needs. 

The new Holmes Foster Event Center completed construction in September 2020 and the Zoo has already hosted a handful of events in the new space, including two wedding receptions. All events were hosted with the utmost attention to COVID-19 safety protocols and regulations. Holmes Foster was a philanthropic community leader in Des Moines for many years. After his passing in 2009, his wife Marjorie has found ways to continue his legacy of community support, including support of Blank Park Zoo. Marjorie loves the animals at Blank Park Zoo and felt that the naming of the Event Center would be the perfect way to honor her late husband, Holmes Foster. 

The event center can accommodate up to 350 guests banquet style, more in a cocktail or lecture style setting. The space has state of the art AV capabilities and equipment installed, brand new tables and chairs have been purchased for the venue, restrooms and couples’ suites are located onsite, and four glass garage doors are located in the entryway to allow fresh air and connection between guests outdoors and indoors. 

Our Why

With the main focus being to announce the opening of the new venue and show off the beauty and abilities of the new space, we also wanted to show off the capabilities of the Zoo as a whole. Many guests don’t think of the Zoo as an option for their wedding day or they don’t even realize that the Zoo can host weddings. As seen in the stunning photos taken by Chelsea Kyaw, BPZ has many possibilities for your special day. The natural beauty of the park, especially in the late spring, summer, and fall seasons is unmatched by many other venues. And don’t forget about the animals, who truly make BPZ a one of a kind venue for you and your guests. 

How the Look and Feel Were Decided

We wanted the decor to be simplistic enough and done in a neutral palette of colors to better show off the space as a whole. Rather than choosing bright colors or a themed design, we want all guests to be able to envision themselves in our new venue. The gold, green, and white palette set a more simplistic, neutral tone, but still make for a beautiful reception backdrop. Danielle at Something Chic Floral did an amazing job helping us bring this vision to life.

Additional Venues

While we are ecstatic to share the completion of the Holmes Foster Event Center, we also want guests to be aware of all of the amazing venue options at the Zoo. Our other venue options include the Africa Pavilion, which is perfect for smaller ceremonies and cocktail hours on the Africa Boardwalk which overlooks the Giraffe yard. The Large Pavilion is the largest outdoor venue on Zoo grounds, which makes for an extremely versatile venue. The Large Pavilion is the Zoo’s most popular location for outdoor wedding ceremonies, but can also host cocktail hours and outdoor receptions. 

Don’t forget about the Discovery Center, which is a smaller ballroom that overlooks the indoor rainforest and aviary. This ballroom can accommodate up to 120 people banquet style and is perfect for smaller weddings who may not want use of the larger event center. Earlier in the fall the Zoo did a smaller, stylized shoot in the Discovery Center in partnership with Something Blue. This space is also very versatile and perfect for indoor ceremonies and cocktail hours. 

Animal Encounters and Attractions

When a wedding is hosted at BPZ, our goal is to provide the couple with a once in a lifetime, all inclusive experience. Two suites are provided to the couple for getting ready in and storing personal belongings. Zoo staff will transport the couple and their wedding party throughout the Zoo on golf carts for easy access to photo locations and animal encounters. The happy couple will also receive an exclusive feeding experience with the Giraffes on their outdoor feeding deck or in their indoor enclosure, depending on weather and the time of year. Our most popular wedding package is an experience like no other, which includes up to three different venue options for the ceremony, cocktail hour, and reception, and all animal enclosures open until 30 minutes prior to sundown for the couple and their guests. For an additional fee, the carousel and train can also remain open for wedding guests. This makes for an extremely unique and memorable wedding day.

The Talented Team:
Photography: Chelsea Kyaw Photo
Event Planning & Project Coordinator: Allison Bollinger in coordination with Blank Park Zoo
Reception Venue: Holmes Foster Events Center & The Discovery Center Ballroom
Decor & Floral Design: Something Chic Floral
Videography: Complete Weddings & Events
Makeup Artist: Grace Crapson
Hair Styling: Valor & Violet
Table Settings & Buffet Design: Baratta’s Italian Restaurant
Models: Joe and Victoria Willoughby; Josh and Whitney Schuhardt
Discovery Center Photography: Mikayla Dehnke; Photo Editing by Nick Moffitt
Discovery Center Decor: Something Blue

Video by Complete Weddings & Events


Contact Allison Bollinger, Rental & Sales Coordinator to book a tour today! 
Phone: 515-974-2506


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