Bursting with museums and art galleries, Iowa is an arts and culture hotspot year round, but it’s during summer that the state really comes to life. It would be impossible for any one person to enjoy all the eclectic events happening in the coming months, but don’t worry, we’ve selected ten of the best arts and culture events on Iowa’s 2014 summer calendar to make choosing which ones to attend slightly easier.
Music | Lake Arbor Jazz Festival
10 -12 July
A community music event celebrating the region’s finest recording and aspiring jazz musicians, the Lake Arbor Jazz Festival is now in its fifth year. Tickets are on sale now to spend a night under the stars whilst listening to live music from a number of huge talents including Ronny Smith, Marcus Anderson and the Afro Bop Alliance. Alongside the live performances, visitors can sample delicious foods from the street food vendors and purchase one of a kind pieces of jewellery and items of clothing from the numerous arts and craft stalls spread around the grounds.
Art | Plum Creek Art Festival
In an exhibition of more than thirty incredible local artists, the Plum Creek Art Festival will host an array of original works in an abundance of mediums. From painting to pottery, photography to sculpture, jewellery to glasswork – there is guaranteed to be an exhibition to satisfy everyone. Artists that will be exhibiting and selling their work at this festival include Janna Bowman from Cedar Falls who uses recycled glass to create a variety of works including jewellery, candles and mosaics; Lori Frisch a photographer from Sumner who specialises in wild flowers and birds photography and Garrett Raum a Fredericksburg local whose craft lies in stoneware ceramics. To keep guests entertained in between visiting exhibitions, there will also be a variety of food and beverage stalls as well as a wine tasting stand.
Culture | Great Jones County Fair and Food Fest
16 – 20 July
Offering a fun day out for all the family, the Great Jones County Fair and Food Fest is a five day medley of events from truck and tractor pulls, to hypnotic live music performances and demolition derbies. Visitors can choose to sit back and watch all that is going on around them or to show their competitive side in one of the many contests taking place including the barbecue contest, open horse contest, photo contest and wine making contest. For those wishing to experience the delights of the entire festival right from opening to close, there is the possibility to camp at the fair enabling visitors to see as much and take part in as many of the events as they possibly could.
Food | Oskaloosa Sweet Corn Serenade
Visitors to the Oskaloosa Sweet Corn Serenade can see just how fast they can shuck a corn on the cob in front of a roaring crowd in the sweetcorn shucking contest. There’s also the chance to test out pie baking skills and pedal tractor pulling abilities to claim the title of Oskaloosa champion. For the less competitive visitors there’s lots of children’s activities to keep the little ones entertained, music shows to watch and a large craft show to admire; and of course there is also heaps of sweetcorn to be sampled and enjoyed as well as burgers and ice cream too.
Downtown Oskaloosa, Iowa, USA, +1 641 672 2591
Music | 515 Alive – Urban Arts and Music Festival
With plenty of events to keep everyone entertained, the Urban Arts and Music Festival celebrates local, regional and nationally acclaimed artists and musicians as well as acting as a platform to launch brand new careers. An eclectic mix of top DJs, hugely talented hip-hop acts and incredible street dancers will fill the five stages scattered around the park for this day long festival. Taking to the stage will be Jon Wayne and the Pain, Dead Larry and Linear Symmetry amongst many others. Tickets start from just $15 and visitors can enjoy an abundance of live art performances, dance exhibitions and a breakdance competition alongside the lively programme of music gigs.
Culture | Iowa State Fair
7 – 17 August
Arguably the biggest event of the summer, the Iowa State Fair is on many people’s bucket lists – and for good reason. This ten day event is bursting with every type of entertainment imaginable. Visitors can sample more than sixty different food items on sticks, from the traditional corn dog and toasted marshmallows to a full caprese salad. There’s numerous contests to take part in from a fiddler’s contest to a mother and daughter lookalike show, and whistling contests to decorated diapers competitions. The Goo Goo Dolls, Lady Antebellum and the Newsboys are just a few of the live music performers taking to the stage and for those looking for some slightly more unusual entertainment, there will also be a full-size cow sculpted out of butter on show, a pair or chainsaw artists giving a live performance, a one man band and a tiger tamer.
Music | Rollin’ on the River Blues Festival
15 – 16 August
With a free shuttle service between the festival and all the hotels in Keokuk, it is now easier than ever for visitors to attend the Rollin’ on the River Blues Festival. Among the acts set to perform live on stage are Hot Tamale and the Red Hots, and Billy Branch. Aside from the performances there will also be a number of workshops and activities taking place in the big tent including a harmonica workshop and all young attendees will get their own harmonica to take home with them. To get a free weekend pass to the festival, guests just need to donate an old instrument in good condition to the Instrument Lending Program. Tickets are also available to purchase.
Victory Park, Keokuk, Iowa, USA, +1 660 754 6679
Art | Woodfest
22 – 24 August
A chance to learn all about the craft of woodwork, the annual Woodfest festival focuses solely on all things wooden. Visitors can take the opportunity to acquire new handcrafted wooden items to adorn their homes, browse the array of artwork on offer or learn in detail how these intricate designs are created. For aspiring woodworkers there is also a series of demonstrations taking place and lots of tools and equipment for sale. This year there will even be a Tool Swap Meet so crafters can trade the tools that they no longer need for ones that they especially desire.
Amana Colonies RV Park & Event Center, Amana, Iowa, USA, +1 319 622 3908
Art | Artapalooza on Main
Now in its ninth year, Artapalooza on Main is an annual fine art competition that takes place on the streets and pavements of downtown Cedar Falls. Artists from all around the region make their way to Cedar Falls to participate in this prestigious juried event and the non-artist art lovers of the area flock here too to witness the streets come alive with colourful artworks. As well as the main competition, there will also be a series of artist demonstrations, exhibitions and children’s activities to keep the family entertained throughout the whole day.
Art | Eleventh Art and Flower Festival
A perfect family day out in the sunshine, the Eleventh Art and Flower Festival is a completely free event taking place in the idyllic setting of Anna’s Cutting Garden. More than 20 local artists will have their own booths in which they will be selling items of their work. Every genre of art will be covered, from pottery to metal work, and there will be live music throughout the day. When not window shopping or purchasing fine pieces of artwork, visitors can lie out a picnic blanket and enjoy a slice of wood-fired pizza or a hearty helping of homemade ice cream.