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The Gazette KCRG
Posted April 26, 2012
Eastern Iowa festivals: Hot fun in the summertime

Lois Topping (right) of Coralville looks through a stained glass piece for her front kitchen window at the Glass Dragon booth with friend Judy Ellyson also of Coralville, while browsing through the 2007 Riverbank Art Fair in Iowa City. The 2012 fair is being held through April 29 near the Iowa Memorial Union. (The Gazette photo)

By Diana Nollen/ SourceMedia

Nothing lazy about the hazy, crazy days of summer in Eastern Iowa.

Festivals are popping up all over, offering the proverbial something for everyone.

Think we’re kidding? Just look at the following list. From fairy tales and Shakespeare to Hoover’s Hometown Days and the grand reopening of the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library, summer is just one long season of celebration.

This is just a sampling. So many area towns offer a taste of old-fashioned fun through festivals old and new. Parade your patriotism at the Cedar Rapids Freedom Festival or slurp up sauerkraut in Lisbon and go hog-wild in Hiawatha. Decorah lays out a smorgasbord of Nordic fun, while Amana rings in fall with Oktoberfest.

Look to the stars and all that jazz all through Iowa City’s Summer of the Arts. Look even higher and you’ll see fireworks sizzling at festivals far and wide. And of course, the sky’s the limit for TrekFest in Riverside, where aliens and humans explore space, the final frontier, just one weekend after the wild Wild West Weekend at Ushers Ferry Historic Village in Cedar Rapids.

So grab your planners, head ’em up and move ’em out all summer long.


RiverFest, Iowa City

Through April 29; Music, comedy, movies, 5K, 10K, Zombie Prom, Riverbank Art Fair, University of Iowa campus, Iowa Memorial Union. Riverfest.uiowa.edu


Chalk the Walk, Mount Vernon

Participants work on the collaborative Iowa map artwork for the 2011 Chalk the Walk Festival in Mount Vernon. The 2012 festival will be held May 5 and 6. (The Gazette photo)

May 5 and 6: Madonnari Festival; juried and public chalk drawings on downtown streets. Visitmvl.com

Benz Beer Fest, Cedar Rapids

May 12: 1 to 5 p.m. outdoors, Benz, 501 Seventh Ave. SE. More than 100 brews from around the world, music, guest brewmasters. $15 advance, $20 door. American Heart Association benefit. Benzbeveragedepot.com

Houby Days, Cedar Rapids

May 18 to 20: Czech Village. Czech food, music, may pole dancing, 1 p.m. parade Saturday, puppet show, folk dance festival. Ncsml.org

Marion Arts Festival

May 19: City Square Park, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Juried art exhibits, 5K and half marathon, demonstrations, art activities. Marionartsfestival.com

North Liberty Blues & BBQ

May 26: 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., Liberty Centre, Penn Street and Liberty Way, music, food, games; free admission. Northlibertyiowa.org/bluesandbbq

Iowa Renaissance Festival, Middle Amana

May 26 to 28: 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Middle Amana Park. Historical re-enactments, jousting, entertainment, merchants, food. Admission: $10 adults, $6 children. Iowarenfest.com


Iowa Arts Festival, Iowa City

June 1 to 3: Downtown Iowa City. 120 local and national artists, Pieta Brown, Greg Brown, Joy Kills Sorrow, Los Lobos, music, entertainment, kids’ activities, foods. Summerofthearts.org

Marion Bar-B-Que Rendezvous

June 2: Noon to 9 p.m., Marion Square Park; food, music. Uptownmarion.com/calendar.html

North Liberty Fun Days

June 7 to 10: Penn Meadows Park. Carnival rides, music, car show, truck pull. Northlibertyiowa.org

KHAK’s 50th Birthday Bash, Cedar Rapids

June 9: 1 p.m., downtown near May’s Island, featuring Alan Jackson with Joe Nichols, Phil Vassar, Steve Holy, Craig Campbell, local Battle of the Bands winner; $40 to $125, Khak.com or (515) 657-6128.

Grant Wood Art Festival, Anamosa

June 10: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., downtown Anamosa. Juried art contest, music, student art and educational displays, kids’ activities. Anamosachamber.org/grantwoodartfestival

Shakespeare Festival, Iowa City

June 15 to July 8: Presented by Riverside Theatre on the outdoor Riverside Festival Stage, Lower City Park; “Merchant of Venice” and “As You Like It” performed in rotation. Riversidetheatre.org

Cedar Rapids Freedom Festival

The Cedar Rapids Freedom Festival Celebration of Freedom Fireworks are launched from May's Island in downtown Cedar Rapids on July 4, 2011. The 2012 Cedar Rapids Freedom Festival runs June 21 to July 4. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette-KCRG)

June 21 to July 4: Music, baseball, ski shows, Firefighter Challenge, food, games, contests, parade June 23, Balloon Glow June 26, Patriotic Pops concert July 1, pancake breakfast, fireworks and more July 4. Freedomfestival.com

Hog Wild Days, Hiawatha

June 21 to 24: Guthridge Park. Contests, Saturday parade at 10:30 a.m., music, food, carnival rides, flea market, 5K run, fireworks Sunday. Hogwilddays.com

Wild West Weekend, Cedar Rapids

June 23 and 24: Ushers Ferry Historic Village, 5925 Seminole Valley Trl. NE. Saturday, 5 to 9 p.m.: hayrack ride, bonfire, cowboy stories and song; Sunday, noon to 4 p.m.: living history demonstrations, children’s games, live music; $8 adults; $4 ages 3 to 14; $1 off with a Freedom Festival button. Cedar-rapids.org/resident-resources/parks-recreation/ushers-ferry/events/Pages/WildWestWeekend.aspx

TrekFest XXVIII, Riverside

June 29 and 30: Hall Park. Carnival rides, games, food, parade, contests, demolition derby, music, “Star Trek” trivia, sci-fi costume contest, fireworks. Trekfest.com

Iowa City Jazz Festival

June 29 to July 1: Downtown Iowa City. Well-known jazz musicians, up-and-coming artists, fireworks. Summerofthearts.org

Coralville 4thFEST

June 30 to 4: S.T. Morrison Park. 5K run/walk June 30; carnival, entertainment, contests, food, July 4 parade at 10 p.m., fireworks. Free concert July 3 with Lonestar. Coralville.org


Museum Grand Reopening, Cedar Rapids

The National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library made some progress at the end of the first day of the final phase of its move to a new raised location adjacent to a new parking structure in Cedar Rapids on July 27, 2011. The 1,740 ton museum building will reopen with a gala celebration July 14 and 15, 2012, on its new site, 11 feet higher than its original location across A Street NW. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette-KCRG)

July 14 and 15: 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday, noon to 5 p.m. Sunday, National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library, 1200 Inspiration Pl. SW. Parade of States 9 a.m., opening ceremonies 10 a.m. Saturday. Also, museum exhibits, history, music, food, dancing, kids’ activities, puppets, lectures. Ncsml.org

Great Jones County Fair & Food Fest, Monticello

July 18 to 22: Carnival, food, exhibits, evening concerts by Lynyrd Skynyrd and Heart on Thursday, Blake Shelton and Josh Thompson on Friday, Toby Keith on Saturday. Greatjonescountyfair.com

Solon Beef Days

July 20 and 21: Music, games, contests, food. Beefdays.com

Fairy tale Festival, Cedar Rapids

July 22: 1 to 5 p.m., Ushers Ferry Historic Village, 5925 Seminole Valley Trl. NE. Storytellers, puppets, fairy tale games, crafts, fairy tale costume contest and parade. Adults free, $8 ages 13 and under. Cedar-rapids.org/resident-resources/parks-recreation/ushers-ferry/events/Pages/FairyTaleFestival.aspx

RAGBRAI’s 40th Bash, Cedar Rapids

July 26: Counting Crows concert headlines Party on the Island, 4:30 to 11 p.m., May’s Island vicinity, downtown; $35 at the gate, $25 in advance at Theatre Cedar Box Office or theatrecr.org; RAGBRAI information at Ragbrai.com/tag/cedar-rapids/

Nordic Fest, Decorah

July 26 to 28: Norwegian food and crafts, sporting events, opening ceremonies, Nordic dancers, street dances, parade at 10 a.m. Saturday, entertainment, fireworks. Nordicfest.com

Fruit of the Vine, Cedar Rapids

July 28: 4 to 8 p.m., Ushers Ferry Historic Village, 5925 Seminole Valley Trl. NE. Wine and beer tasting, music, silent auction, $15 ages 21 and over. Cedar-rapids.org/resident-resources/parks-recreation/ushers-ferry/events/Pages/FruitoftheVine.aspx


Hoover’s Hometown Days, West Branch

Aug. 3 and 4: Music, entertainment, Civil War attractions, rides and games, food, exhibits, Hooverball championships, Hoover gravesite ceremony, free birthday cake, fireworks. Hooverassociation.org/newsevents/hooverfest.php

Sauerkraut Days, Lisbon

Aug. 9 to 11: Food, carnival, music, contests, fireworks Aug. 9. Sauerkrautdays.com

Iowa State Fair, Des Moines

Aug. 9 to 19: Fairgrounds, East 30th Street and East University Avenue. Midway rides, food on a stick, exhibits, agriculture displays, livestock, music, contests, demonstrations, Grandstand concerts and the Butter Cow. Iowastatefair.org

Sand in the City, Iowa City

Greg Mills of the Dr. D.M. Fitzgerald and Associates team adds small details into the group's sculpture during the 2011 Sand in the City festival in downtown Iowa City. The 2012 event will be run Aug. 10 to 12. (The Gazette photo)

 Aug. 10 to 12: Downtown. Sand sculptures, food, kids’ activities, music; free admission. Summerofthearts.org

Woodfest, Amana

Aug. 24 to 26: Amana Colonies RV Park and Event Center, 3890 C St. Wood craft displays, demonstrations, seminars, food, tool and supply sales. 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday; 10 to 4 p.m. Sunday. Free admission and parking. Amanaartsguild.com

Brucemore Garden and Art Show, Cedar Rapids

Aug. 25: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Brucemore mansion grounds, 2160 Linden Dr. SE. Products and information for art enthusiasts and gardeners. Brucemore.org


FRY Fest, Coralville

Sept. 7: Iowa River Landing area. Hawkeye celebration with food, trade show, car show, pep rally, outdoor concert. Fryfest.com

Swamp Fox Festival, Marion

Sept. 14 to 16: Marion Square Park. Golf outing, food, music, craft show, 5K run and fun walk, parade. Uptownmarion.com

Oktoberfest, Amana

Sept. 28 to 30: German bands, food and beverages, games, theater shows, parade at 10 a.m. Saturday, walking tours, museums open. Festivalsinamana.com


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